Jul 14, 2006

Too much passion

Jim Geraghty wants to take the passion out of politics.
When thinking about these issues, sure, passion can be great, but it does tend toward the bumper-sticker solution: “Round ‘em up and send ‘em back.” “Bomb ‘em back to the Stone Age.” “Ban outsourcing and stop ‘em from taking our jobs overseas.”

My guess is that many of these problems will require not one silver bullet, but an array of different approaches, and constant tinkering to maximize what works. For example, on immigration, it will probably take a wall, tougher enforcement on employers who hire illegal immigrants, an effort to nudge the Mexicans to liberalize and improve their economy, an effort to streamline and improve our system of legal immigration, and a culture-wide effort to thoroughly and rapidly assimilate immigrants. It’s hard to be passionately in support of a menu of options; sometimes a problem calls for cool rationality.
Let's stop celebrating emotion, while we're at it. I believe sportscasters were the first to describe events using emotional as an adjective. And sporting events can certainly give rise to strong emotions. But winning also requires other things like skill and nerve. The apotheosis of all this emotional sports stuff came, for me, at the celebration of the 2000 World Series in New York when we were treated to crying jags by Joe Torre, Paul O'Neill and Darryl Strawberrry. I remember thinking: whatever happened to "There's no crying in baseball"?

Nowadays, everytime you turn on the news there's emotion by the carload--whether at a funeral or a meeting of the public utilities board. We love emotion. Emotion gives good footage, but not good public policy. Consider Cindy Sheehan: Her willingness to display her emotion has made her an icon of the antiwar movement. Her emotion gave her moral authority, we're told. Her emotion should have been reason enough for us to pull out of Iraq.

But isn't mastering emotions a sign of maturity? So let's discard emotion in favor of a stiff upper lip.

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