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Bushism of the Day:

[My adversary] has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice.

Funny, no? Another example of the President's accidental wit and wisdom.

Whoops, sorry: That's from a written statement by Speaker Pelosi's office on July 2, condemning President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. The Bushism of the Day, from oral remarks by President Bush, is

All of us in America want there to be fairness when it comes to justice.

Neither, of course, is terribly eloquent, but neither is particularly laughable. The supposed humor, I take it, stems from the assumption that fairness and justice are synonyms, so the statement is supposedly tautological. But it's clear that "justice" in both quotes means not just "fairness" but "the operation of the justice system." (Bush was speaking of the Jena, Louisiana prosecutions.) Nothing particularly noteworthy, it seems to me, in someone's saying something like this, especially in an extemporaneous oral response to a question.

Christopher M (mail):
Has anyone ever stepped up to defend the Bushisms column, other than its author (or maybe people who work for him)?
9.28.2007 10:18pm
Robin Roberts (mail) (www):
Slate is still running this insipid column?
9.28.2007 10:36pm
LM (mail):
EV

Funny, no? Another example of the President's accidental wit and wisdom.

You broadcast this trick like a bad poker tell by only ever using it (that I've seen) to make points consistent with your known leanings. To restore some of its bite, try using it once in a while when an overriding principle leads you to a superficially contrarian position (e.g., defending Bollinger's decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak).
9.28.2007 11:11pm
Sam Heldman:
Childrens do learn, you know.

Or do you have some complex anti-prescriptivist reasoning to explain that the Pres was actually correct in using that phrase ("childrens do learn") too?
9.28.2007 11:16pm
Random Commenter:
"Or do you have some complex anti-prescriptivist reasoning to explain that the Pres was actually correct in using that phrase ("childrens do learn") too?"

I think he's just pointing out that the "bushisms" feature has little appeal when it relies, as it so often does, on taking Bush's comments out of context. If you're reading any more into this than that, you need to get out more.
9.28.2007 11:32pm
V:
Am I the only one concerned that a law professor thinks "fairness" and "justice" are synonymous? [EV: Sorry, that is precisely what I think is not the case here; I should have said the assumption that the two are synonymous, and I've corrected the post accordingly.]
9.29.2007 2:13am
V:
The current President is an inept speaker, inelegant, seemingly always at a loss for the right word, not particularly competent in public address, frequently appearing coached and fumbling horribly if forced to go "off message". And Eugene's defense is that Speaker Pelosi is not Daniel Webster? Big news, that...

[EV: I'll make you a deal; please e-mail me an accurate transcript of any extemporaneous comments that you might have delivered, and we'll see how elegant those comments were. My guess is that they were full of lapses, just as my extemporaneous comments usually are, and just as are the extemporaneous comments of many entirely competent professionals I know.]
9.29.2007 2:17am
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
>Am I the only one concerned that a law professor
>thinks "fairness" and "justice" are synonymous?

Not only are they not synonyms, in many cases they're antonyms!
9.29.2007 2:19am
Mr. Volokh takes these Bushisms too seriously (mail):
Mr. Volokh has a disturbing tendency to criticize Slate's Bushisms of the day. Yet, we know that Mr. Volokh has a sense of humor, after all, he did recommend Superbad. Perhaps Mr. Volokh should use his sense of humor here.

There is no denying that Mr. Bush mangles the English language on a regular basis. He has admitted to this fact himself. And that even when he is not technically mangling the English language, he is an awkward speaker who seems to struggle in his speaking.

No, do some of those making jokes about Bush exaggerate? Of course. That is called humor, Mr. Volokh. Humor. Did you think that Superbad was a documentary? Get over Slate's Bushisms of the day and take it for what it is. Not always successful attempts at humor.
9.29.2007 2:28am
V:
EV has made me an offer, which I kindly reject: [EV: I'll make you a deal; please e-mail me an accurate transcript of any extemporaneous comments that you might have delivered, and we'll see how elegant those comments were. My guess is that they were full of lapses, just as my extemporaneous comments usually are, and just as are the extemporaneous comments of many entirely competent professionals I know.]

Here's why. I'm a private citizen who, while I believe I write elegantly and with some verve and wit, detest public speaking and seek to avoid it at all costs. Meanwhile, politicians, including those elected President, must achieve a high level of proficiency in public speaking. Comparing him to HIS PEERS--say, for example, the prior President of the United States--Mr. Bush is grossly inept. One could equally easily choose Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, even LBJ, to say nothing of Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln...I'm shocked that EV, a clearly clever and thoughtful person, even thinks this worth arguing.

My additional point was that this gross ineptitude in public speaking is, relatively speaking, quite common (see Pelosi reference). Compare remarks made in the house and senate in the nineteenth century, when they were quite often truly extemporaneous, with speeches given today by teleprompter, and one's mind begins to boggle at the lowering of standards for public office.

This is, of course, because the incentives for becoming a member of Congress are different then and now. Competence in statecraft required intelligence, which to some degree translated into competent public speaking skills, an adequate vocabulary, some knowledge of rhetoric. Competence in manipulating and supporting various special interest constituencies is a completely different skill set, not requiring all-that-great skill at speaking, albeit requiring stronger skills at nudging and winking.
9.29.2007 2:59am
PersonFromPorlock:

But it's clear that "justice" in both quotes means not just "fairness" but "the operation of the justice system."

True enough, but aren't both comments inane even in context? The determining factor in "the operation of the justice system" is law, not fairness.
9.29.2007 3:21am
Brian K (mail):
The determining factor in "the operation of the justice system" is law, not fairness.

Then why do we have mandatory minimum sentences and semi-mandatory sentencing guidelines? Why do we demand a jury of one's peers and bother to go through the process of selecting an appropriate jury?
9.29.2007 3:48am
Prosecutorial Indiscretion:
Because that's what the law says? Mandatory minimums are often not fair, and God help those who don't plead out in the federal system - they are in for some serious unfairness, but often that unfairness doubles as justice.
9.29.2007 4:05am
randal (mail):
Yes, we are all aware that EV has a strange sympathy for the pres that leaves him incapable of getting Slate's Bushisms.

In this case, there's no supposed tautology - it's simply a very obvious statement delivered awakardly. An equivalent statement would be

All of us in America want there to be education when it comes to our schools.

Pointing that out is silly. However, it is at least contentful - if hyperbolic - to say

Bush has abandoned any desire for education when it comes to our schools.
9.29.2007 5:44am
Hrm:

Meanwhile, politicians, including those elected President, must achieve a high level of proficiency in public speaking.


Must or should? Clearly Bush is President, so if he's really so bad, it's probably not even a should, but definately not a must.


Comparing him to HIS PEERS--say, for example, the prior President of the United States--Mr. Bush is grossly inept. One could equally easily choose Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, even LBJ


Reagan and Kennedy for sure, but the others all had huge flaws in one way or another when exercising their public speaking, though since in some cases they were more liked personally people were less likely to point it out at the time.

I personally find the big difference between how we select our politicians not to be so much of special interests, but of single-issue voting. Alot of single-issue voters are willing to "hold their nose" and ignore a lot of flaws in a candidate if they get what they feel is a guarantee on said single-issue. In the past people looked for very well-rounded candidates who they felt could accurately represent them on a range of issues. Nowadays many people just want some guy who will vote yes in one (or two) key places, and will ignore just about everything else. That can't end well.
9.29.2007 10:47am
Drake (mail) (www):
The first remark appears intended to be a wry commentary on an opponents concept of "justice." (As if by the lights of most there is anything left of "justice" when one removes from it "fairness.") The second appears intended to be a substantive observation about the relation of fairness to justice (arguably a trivial notion, given the parenthetical above).

I don't think Bush's empty thought is all that noteworthy, but these two statements don't strike me as very analogous.
9.29.2007 12:16pm
kiniyakki (mail):
Relating to the fairness vs. justice debate: In law school I heard a quote that was attributed to Justice Alan Page of the Minnesota Supreme Court. (and former people eater for the Minnesota Vikings) The quote was "this is not a court of justice, this is a court of law." Has anybody else heard this quote, and does anybody know if I have it and its author correct?
9.29.2007 1:14pm
Ken Arromdee:
No, do some of those making jokes about Bush exaggerate? Of course. That is called humor, Mr. Volokh. Humor.

The last refuge of a scoundrel is saying "it was only a joke".

Please. The "joke" was done with the intention that the readers believe Bush actually made a nonsensical statement. This part of it isn't a joke. Making a bogus claim and then trying to get people to laugh at it in the belief that the bogus claim is real is using humor to perpetuate a lie.
9.29.2007 2:05pm
Armen (mail) (www):
So Minnesota doesn't have equity courts?
9.29.2007 3:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Meanwhile, politicians, including those elected President, must achieve a high level of proficiency in public speaking. Comparing him to HIS PEERS--say, for example, the prior President of the United States--Mr. Bush is grossly inept. One could equally easily choose Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, even LBJ, to say nothing of Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln...I'm shocked that EV, a clearly clever and thoughtful person, even thinks this worth arguing.
I've read that if the 1800 election had taken place in the age of television, Aaron Burr would have probably beaten Jefferson. Burr was a more polished speaker; Jefferson we remember for his writing, but he was not an accomplished orator. And yet Burr was an utter scoundrel, in both his public and private life. (There's still some argument about what Hamilton said over dinner about Burr that led tot he duel; there are some hints are that Hamilton may have alluded to rumors that Burr had an unnatural relationship with his daughter.)

I would love for the President of the United States to be an accomplished public orator. Ronald Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech, and John Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" are two powerful examples of what happens when great ideas are delivered with passion and skill. But if my choice is a clumsy speaker, or an effective orator with zero integrity (like Al Gore), I'll just have to suffer through some Bushisms for a while.

Fred Thompson--he's pretty decent at the public speaking thing.
9.29.2007 3:24pm
JK:
I don't see why Republicans seem to have such thin skin when it comes to these "Bushisms," why can't picking on the President's oral bungles be a fun bi-partisan game? Those of us who are left of center readily admit that John Kerry is boring as all hell, that Bill Clinton is sleazy, etc. This is the sort of poking fun at the rich and powerful that people should just enjoy as a joke, it doesn't have any real political relevance.
9.29.2007 4:00pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I don't see why Republicans seem to have such thin skin when it comes to these "Bushisms," why can't picking on the President's oral bungles be a fun bi-partisan game?
Because the subtext is that not just Bush, but all Republicans are semiliterate high school dropouts. It is an arrogant belief that anyone that doesn't share the left's goals and theories is a knuckle-dragger who doesn't know the Earth if round.

Imagine if the news media implied that Democrats are all secretly Communists by constantly looking for parallels between quotes from John Kerry and Joseph Stalin.
9.29.2007 5:02pm
PLR:
At 2:24: "Fred Thompson--he's pretty decent at the public speaking thing."

For sure, though some of his occasional columns at townhall.com are cringeworthy. He's one of those guys who's better without a pen.

Does the average American voter award points to candidates who are articulate? Not here in the midwest, they don't.
9.29.2007 5:50pm
Mike Keenan:
Can someone tell me what is "wrong" with the Bushism from Sep 26?


"As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."
9.29.2007 5:50pm
LM (mail):
If he'd only adopt whatever standard of relevance allows Clayton to think Al Gore's integrity is on topic, President Bush would never be at a loss for words.
9.29.2007 6:04pm
Mike Keenan:
And this seems pretty funny and intentionally so:

"And everybody wants to be loved—not everybody, but—you run for office, I guess you do. You never heard anybody say, 'I want to be despised, I'm running for office.' "—Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007
9.29.2007 6:08pm
the lousy linguist. (www):
As far as my lousy linguistic powers can tell, the reason these quotes seem awkward is the ambiguity of the word "justice" which could mean either 1) fairness or 2) a system for determining outcomes. Most of the commenters seem to recognize only meaning (1).

But it is entirely possible for a 'justice system' to be either fair or unfair, with no redundancy.
9.29.2007 6:29pm
CEB:
Here is what I understand to be Prof. V's take on the "Bushisms," which I completely agree with:

President Bush, while speaking extemporaneously, occasionally says unintentionally funny things. This happens to everyone, of course, but no one seems to do it quite like Bush. E.g., misunderestimated, gynecologists unable to practice their love on women, etc.

These slip-ups are no indicator of Bush's intelligence, though many Bush foes like to think they are. Most people can appreciate the humor of them without thinking they reflect poorly on Bush.

The problem is that the "Bushisms" reporter for Slate is like the discrimination lawyers that were discussed here a while ago. The supply of truly amusing things that the President says has diminished. He therefore has to lower the bar to keep the feature alive. So now many "Bushisms" are simple slips of the tongue or even just regular oral sentences, which are always different than written statements. Nevertheless, Bush foes still see them as indicators of some intellectual defect on the part of Bush.
9.29.2007 6:41pm
VC Rita:
"Because the subtext is that not just Bush, but all Republicans are semiliterate high school dropouts."

And I suppose there is some kind of explanation why the column focuses solely on Bush and not all Republicans, then?
9.29.2007 7:10pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Meanwhile, politicians, including those elected President, must achieve a high level of proficiency in public speaking. Comparing him to HIS PEERS--say, for example, the prior President of the United States--Mr. Bush is grossly inept. One could equally easily choose Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter ...."

Oh, my. I think this is not accurate. Where is "Senator X?" Query, is Senator X dba "Yoda?" (very likely a savant autistic genius, if I may be so presumptous).

Public speaking is not the most relevant qualification criteria. What goes with the set of Presidents (Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W., Clinton, G.W.) they all have in common? Yoda, a/k/a Andrew Marshall, probably the most demonstrably brilliant thinker on the subject of abrupt climate change. Rand Corp, 1975, global warming report predicting it all.

In any event, while so many mock G.W., I fear the sea levels will rise. Perhaps G.W. is quite an able leader, but like those left behind in Watership Downs, many will not be able to see this in time to avert catastrophe in their own lives.
9.29.2007 7:11pm
Davebo (mail):
Exactly Perfessor Eugene!

As we quickly approach 4,000 dead kids, 30,000 amputees and other wounded and of course, over a trillion dollars crapped down the drain it's IMPERATIVE that we ensure no one miscombobulates the utterings of our fearless leader.

Look on the bright side. Oh, wait, you've rotated your head 420 degrees trying to.

And this is what you get. You should be coaching the Oklahoma State football team.
9.29.2007 7:45pm
PersonFromPorlock:

And I suppose there is some kind of explanation why the column focuses solely on Bush and not all Republicans, then?


Synecdoche?
9.29.2007 8:19pm
JLV:
Mr. Volokh is simply pointing out that many of the Bushisms, either by virtue of being taken out of context or being understandable mistakes that many people (including polished politicians) would make if speaking extemporaneously, are in fact not authentic "Bushisms." He is not saying that there are not authentic Bushisms out there, or that Bush does not commit more of these malapropisms than the average person.

Thus, let's say the average person commits five such verbal mistakes per day. And, let's say Bush commits ten per day. If Slate represents that Bush commits 15 per day, and Mr. Volokh points out that five of these are misrepresented, then Mr. Volokh is simply calling Slate to task for its exaggeration or misrepresentation. That seems entirely valid to me, and not Mr. Volokh simply pandering to Bush.

As a regular reader of the Conspiracy, I've noticed that Mr. Volokh greatly enjoys pointing out the flaws in people's reasoning, regardless of their political agenda. He deserves more credit than is being given to him.
9.29.2007 8:32pm
Mr L (mail):
As we quickly approach 4,000 dead kids, 30,000 amputees and other wounded and of course, over a trillion dollars crapped down the drain it's IMPERATIVE that we ensure no one miscombobulates the utterings of our fearless leader.

My, aren't me shrill for someone who doesn't care.

And just for laughs, a quick googling brings up an Unicef report that the sanctions regime we had under Clinton was killing 4,000 children per month. I'm eagerly awaiting your heartfelt praise of Bush &Co. for reducing that death toll from a monthly horror to once every five years.
9.29.2007 8:43pm
randal (mail):
Someome said

I don't see why Republicans seem to have such thin skin when it comes to these "Bushisms," why can't picking on the President's oral bungles be a fun bi-partisan game?

To which Clayton replied:

Because the subtext is that not just Bush, but all Republicans are semiliterate high school dropouts.

Which, perhaps unintentionally, explians it all. Many on the right, like Clayton, seem to genuinely doubt their own intellectual abilities, and have retreated to a sort of tribal defensiveness about it.

No, Clayton, the Bushisms column isn't about you.
9.29.2007 9:11pm
Stating the Obvious (mail):
Some have taken my comments above as absolutes, when I think a clear reading indicates they are relative. For example, HRM comments of my: "Meanwhile, politicians, including those elected President, must achieve a high level of proficiency in public speaking."

"Must or should? Clearly Bush is President, so if he's really so bad, it's probably not even a should, but definately not a must."

But compared to other presidents, all of whom endure grueling daily public speaking schedules for several years prior to taking office,he really IS pretty bad. He DOES have a high level of proficiency at public speaking compared to most people. That's why it's amazing he's so bad at it. I never suggested this skill is the only one that allows one to win office, or trumps all others. He clearly is a superior glad-hander, but listening to (B) Clinton speak is infinitely preferable, even when I disagree with everything Clinton is saying and occasionally agree with Bush.


I went on: Comparing him to HIS PEERS--say, for example, the prior President of the United States--Mr. Bush is grossly inept. One could equally easily choose Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, even LBJ


And HRM replied: Reagan and Kennedy for sure, but the others all had huge flaws in one way or another when exercising their public speaking, though since in some cases they were more liked personally people were less likely to point it out at the time.

But, again, I'm not saying they were all the best. Clearly some were worse than others. I personally was never that impressed with Reagan as a speaker, though of course most others were. Clinton is masterful, and an extremely quick thinker on his feet, a fortunate trait for one who lies so often. But it seems obvious to me that even the odious Nixon and the more odious LBJ were better speakers than Bush (also, in my view, quite odious...).

This need not be a purely subjective evaluation. There are degrees given in rhetoric and speaking. It would be a fascinating study--perhaps its already been done--to "objectively" evaluate the speaking/rhetorical skills of as many of our Presidents as we have information on (ie. recordings/TV).
9.29.2007 9:17pm
randal (mail):
JLV, I don't buy your account of EV's motives.

EV only talks about the Bushisms he doesn't like. He never re-posts one and says, oh jeez ha ha. So I doubt he really does think the Bushisms column is mostly on the mark, as you suggest.

That's supported by the "rebuttal" article he wrote for Slate not too long ago, where he opined that the entire Bushisms premise was flawed, not just specific instances.

I agree with you that this is a somewhat schizophrenic position for EV to take given that he regularly posts - and ridicules - similar gaffes by other public figures. Just not Bush.
9.29.2007 9:21pm
JLV:
Randal:

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but my take is that Mr. Volokh is far more likely to post a critique of a given assertion/accusation/joke because it provides actual fodder for analysis, whereas "oh jeez ha ha" does not.

Finally, (and, really, I'm not being nasty - which is not my style) schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder. That's a common misconception.
9.29.2007 9:53pm
Robin Roberts (mail) (www):
Supposedly President Bush is inarticulate and a poor speaker. Certainly he could be better, but if he was as inarticulate as is claimed, then why are so many of the "Bushisms of the Day" actually misrepresentations of what he said or just out of context clips?

Should it not be easy to find the real malapropisms and clumsy statements.
9.29.2007 10:35pm
Hoosier:
My take is much less sophsticated: I wish Slate would put an end to this stupid feature about Bush's stupid feature. Really, my four-year-old son doesn't repeat a "funny" joke more than a dozen times.

And Letterman has the same feature, just with video.

Bush is a Bush. He is therefore fighting a protracted conflict with the English language. It's time to MoveOn.yawn already.
9.29.2007 11:27pm
Informant (mail):
"Can someone tell me what is 'wrong' with the Bushism from Sep 26?"

As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.


Assuming you're not joking, I believe the problem is the word "childrens".
9.30.2007 2:04am
Ray G (mail) (www):
It's disconcerting that it means so much more how someone says something rather than what is actually being said.

The public at large would just as soon have a car salesman in the Oval Office as a statesman. "I really don't care what you do, just make me feel good about it."

Bryan Caplan, your office is calling. . .
9.30.2007 2:11am
Mr. F. Le Mur (mail):
Slate is still running this insipid column?
I laffed 'til I stopped!

FWIW, a related Pinker article.
9.30.2007 8:56am
Extraneus (mail):
Yes, they say Hitler was an excellent public speaker, and I've seen no catalog of his bloopers. Perhaps he never made any.

Meanwhile, as to Bush's extemporaneous comments, I found the phone-call with Aznar to be illuminating. Content aside, he didn't use the word "childrens" at all.

I agree the joke was funny at first, and is lame at present.
9.30.2007 9:51am
Michael B (mail):
The earnest pouts and remonstrations of a soured commentariat, needing their self-congratulatory, hothouse-flower opinings affirmed - lest they bruise, and therein become more superficially indignant still. Steyn commented on a related phenomenon yesterday in the OCR.

"You broadcast this trick like a bad poker tell by only ever using it (that I've seen) to make points consistent with your known leanings. To restore some of its bite, try using it once in a while when an overriding principle leads you to a superficially contrarian position (e.g., defending Bollinger's decision to allow Ahmadinejad to speak)." LM

It is strikingly odd how people tend to comment in a manner that is consistent with their own opinings. (Talk of "restoring its bite" is more ironic still.) Further, the contrarian position is, or at least has become, criticizing Bollinger, not defending him - it's a contrarian position that is not at all superficial (as Steyn's column demonstrates).

When it comes to BDS, even in its more attenuated forms, what is striking is the amount of soured witlessness, self-parody and superficial earnestness that ensues. Juvenilia and regression affecting a mature grasp of the world. But why not, much of this is lemming-like and Pavlovian emulations of the Gores, Deans, Clintons and others representing the Left/Dems, with the Mahers and Lettermans of the world serving to ring the Pavlovian bell: a deftly choreographed performance in three parts, the denouement taking place in the voting booth, the bell no longer needing to be rung.
9.30.2007 3:02pm
German Studet (ret.) (mail):
I love that the very example used to prove that JFK was a paragon of oratorical excellence is the speech in which he calls himself a freakin' jelly donut!
9.30.2007 5:49pm
German Studet (ret.) (mail):
I love that the very example used to prove that JFK was a paragon of oratorical excellence is the speech in which he calls himself a freakin' jelly donut!
9.30.2007 5:51pm
Michael B (mail):
Mansfield's take on Bollinger/Ahmadinejad is nearly the equal to Steyn's. Steyn zeroes in on the sine qua non of it all much better and with more verve and wit - the self-regard, the self-congratulatory aspects, the attendant and stunningly superficial qualities of it all - but Mansfield is very solid with his straight-forward assessment of Bollinger nonetheless, it stills filters down to yet more academic self-parody and egoism driving it all.
10.1.2007 12:25am
LM (mail):
Michael B:

It is strikingly odd how people tend to comment in a manner that is consistent with their own opinings. (Talk of "restoring its bite" is more ironic still.) Further, the contrarian position is, or at least has become, criticizing Bollinger, not defending him - it's a contrarian position that is not at all superficial (as Steyn's column demonstrates).

Sorry to disappoint you, but that's a straw ass you're kicking. I happen to agree with EV on the substance of his post, and I was only making a suggestion I honestly hoped he'd find helpful. But haven't you and I been down this road before? I think last time you took me too literally, this time not literally enough. If either or both of those misunderstandings were my fault, probably owing to my NYC upbringing, I apologize. Anyway, so annotated, here's what I was getting at:

EV does frequently use that rhetorical misdirection device, and you can see it coming a mile away. The reason it's so obvious is that, like a poker tell, it's an incongruity that signals the same thing every time it appears. Now it also happens to be true that some of EV's arguments, (e.g., defending Bollinger's decision re: Ahmadinejad) superficially appear contrarian, relative to his usual leanings, when he's actually just being faithful to some core principle (free speech). I was only suggesting that if he would use the rhetorical device in some of those instances, when it's even a little bit harder to predict where he's going, it would effectively re-load the tension the device relies on to confound expectations.
10.1.2007 4:53am
Davis Nelson (mail) (www):

"The supposed humor, I take it, stems from the assumption that fairness and justice are synonyms, so the statement is supposedly tautological."



What am I missing here? John Rawls equates justice with fairness in "A Theory of Justice," and it doesn't appear to have damaged his reputation much — though it should have.


All of us in America want there to be fairness when it comes to justice.


Couldn't this be a shorthand way of saying "We all acknowledge that fairness is an essential component of justice"?
10.1.2007 9:30am
Henry Bramlet (mail):
An old American Government professor once said something along the following:

"To fine a 25 Year Old for failing to shovel his walk after a snow storm is just and fair. On the other hand, fining a 65-year-old elderly woman for failing to shovel her walk after a snow storm is just but may not be fair."

The idea is that Justice may not always yield an outcome that people consider fair. In my mind fairness is far more subjective than justice which tends to be run "by the letter of the law". We can make Justice fairer by making sure that the law accommodates edge cases where we might see unexpected consequences.
10.1.2007 5:52pm
Michael B (mail):
LM, if you believe you're right then I'll suggest to you that you might refrain from apologizing, minimally it tends to lend ambiguity to and dilute what you're attempting to communicate. I stand corrected in terms of your intent, though to be clear neither my initial nor my final graph was directed at you or your comment, only the graph that immediately followed the excerpt was directed to your comment specifically. Indeed, I stand by my comment concerning Bollinger and the contrarian position that evolved concerning him.
10.1.2007 11:05pm
LM (mail):
Michael B,

Don't worry. I didn't read your comment other than the middle two paragraphs as being directed at me. I hope you can now see that I expressed no opinion on the Bollinger incident, other than mentioning the superficial and ultimately misleading appearance that EV's position was contrary to his own usual views. Finally, my apology applied only to the origin of our misunderstanding. I don't have a strong opinion about who caused it, and I'm not troubled by it either way. But if the fault does happen to have been mine, I see no reason to avoid apologizing. It's hard for me to believe an apology would further undermine an argument the intent of which is already too opaque to discern.
10.2.2007 5:07am