Vox founder Ezra Klein has summed up the impeachment fiasco for his readers on the left. In a piece entitled “Donald Trump will be acquitted. American politics will be convicted“, Klein concludes that the American system of government has failed us:
The Constitution’s framers did their job, in their time. They designed a system of government that worked to call the country, with all our flaws and all our potential for greatness, into being. But they did not design a system of government that is working in our time. That is our job.
That last bit is particularly interesting. Did you know that it is the job of Klein and other leftist activists to reform our political system from the ground up? In 50 years, our children will visit the Klein Memorial at the National Mall–perhaps a giant marble donut–right next to the Jefferson Memorial … if that hasn’t been bulldozed to make way for the Greta Thunberg Scowling Pool.
Klein exemplifies the Very Intelligent Silly Person (VISP). Like a race car stuck in reverse, VISPs think very well, but only backwards. VISP reasoning in this instances goes:
“Donald Trump is a bad man. Congress has failed to convict a bad man. Therefore, the American system of government is busted.”
This is sound thinking … as long as one agrees with the premise that President Trump is Satan. But to see the inherent fallacy of this backwards reasoning, all you have to do is tweak the scenario one way or another.
For example, imagine a bunch of senators had *changed their minds* at the last minute and decided Donald Trump should be convicted of “obstruction of Congress” (whatever the fork that is). Would this new outcome mean the American system of government in the blink of an eye was UNbusted, when a two-thirds majority suddenly and unexpectedly decided to share Klein’s views?
It seems likely that Klein and others would have written a much different piece: “The Triumph of the American System and the Victory of Democracy!”
VISPs do not all fall on the left. National Review employs quite a few (they know who they are). Mitt Romney seems to be their standard bearer right now. For these folks, Donald Trump is not pure evil but “unpresidential,” a man of “bad character” and worse hair, an unfitting stand-in for their comfortable, tailored three-piece egos.
For Mister Rogers conservatives, all subsequent reasoning cascades backward from one unexamined postulate: “I can’t conservatize for someone caught talking about pu**y grabbing on tape!” And so they twist their thinking any which way to keep up appearances at all costs, policy and loyalty be damned.
Klein and the never-Trumpers share a corrupted habit of thought: pick an outcome and rationalize the steps to reach that outcome. They cannot say simply: “I HAVE A PERSONAL AND IRRATIONAL HATRED OF DONALD TRUMP AND THEREFORE EVERYTHING HE DOES!” They hide their prejudice and resentment behind layers and layers of cant and casuistry they describe as “principle” and “reasonableness.”
Klein would rather throw out the American system of government and adopt a wholly fictitious American past than endure another five minutes of President Trump. Never-Trumpers would rather see every principle they purport to cherish go extinct than have those principles championed by uncouth loudmouths like the president and Steve Bannon.
Klein repeats words like “truth” and “principle” a lot in his piece. It’s this oblivious earnestness that makes him such a great comic writer. Here’s some truth for the mix:
Klein and other VISPs do not want a system of *government* at all. They want a system of *social engineering* that produces expected results–either utopian socialism or staid rule by think-tank-crats with regulation hair and antiseptic Twitter feeds.
Reverse engineering might work, were human beings robots. But they’re not. Persons are not machines. Governments of persons are not machines. Civil rights and basic freedoms like self-defense, free speech, and free religious practice aren’t devices to be thrown aside when they don’t give the hoped-for result.
When you throw out the calculator upon receiving an inconvenient answer, you are left without answers AND no way to reach them.
VISPs treat truth and principle like Kleenex, beautiful when they come from your own pocket, but no good when they’re used by someone else. Jack Nicholson expressed the argument against the VISP worldview best: