Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Preferring Paradoxes To Contradictions

Leon Wieseltier at the "New Republic" and the journal's former editor, Andrew Sullivan, are having a public exchange about Wieseltier's assertion that Ronald Reagan, without qualification or condition, considered government the problem instead of the solution. Sullivan pointed out that in his 1981 inaugural address, Reagan had rooted his famous proposition in the unique economic crisis he'd inherited from Jimmy Carter. Wiseltier accepts the correction but then issues a challenge of his own:
[Sullivan] is a hero-worshipper, but all his heroes do not go together. He reveres Reagan and he reveres Obama. That is to say, he admires conceptions of government that contradict each other. I do not see how Reagan's views of the national government can be pressed into the service of Obama's plans for the national government. Perhaps Sullivan, who lazily prefers paradoxes to contradictions, can find a way. I leave it to him to sort out the consequences of his serial idolatries.

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