Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Will, Fully Obtuse

On the NY Times site yesterday, William Safire complained about a line in (President!) Obama's speech:
He skirted the controversy about harsh interrogations with a facile “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals” — when there are times when that painful choice cannot be “rejected.”

Safire is missing the point entirely here. It's not that Obama was looking for a nice turn of phrase here: he was saying that the choice is always rejected. Torture is always wrong. Etc. But Safire chose to see that line through a prism that is willing to sacrifice liberty in order to gain security, and we should all remember what Ben Franklin has to say about that.

(Full disclosure: I still have a grudge against Safire from the time he partially blamed the decline of marriage on "nubile women postponing weddings to pursue careers.")

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