“All violent feelings have the same effect,” John Ruskin wrote, in one of his most famous essays. “They produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things, which I would generally characterize as the ‘Pathetic Fallacy.’ ” Ruskin published “Of the Pathetic Fallacy” in 1856, as a chapter of “Modern Painters.” His subject, in this chapter, was poetry, not painting, and it was certainly not politics. But his insight may help explain the American political atmosphere at the beginning of the year 2010, especially the subdued, sometimes even angry, mood among many of President Obama’s wavering, if not quite erstwhile, supporters.Howie P.S.: I would have thought my old friend Mr. Hertzberg was able to keep up with things a little better: "Howard Dean Now Supports Passage of Health Reform Bill After Winning Improvements." I won't use any rhetorical flourishes to correct the record, but I hope Rick will, with or without.
Two months later, Kennedy’s bill was defeated in the Senate. It took his assassination, a huge Democratic victory in 1964, and the legislative talents of President Lyndon Johnson to get Medicare enacted. The health-care bill now being kicked and prodded and bribed toward passage will not “do the job,” either—only part of it. Are Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress doing enough? No. But they are doing what’s possible. That may be pathetic, but it’s no fallacy.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Hendrik Hertzberg on the health care bill
Hendrik Hertzberg (The New Yorker):