Andrew Sullivan brings up an interesting topic:
Victor Davis Hanson is railing against [sophists]:
In classical Athens, public life became dominated by clever and smart-sounding sophists. These mellifluous “really wise guys” made money and gained influence by their rhetorical boasts to “prove” the most amazing “thinkery” that belied common sense. We are living in a new age of sophism — but without a modern equivalent of Socrates to remind the public just how silly our highly credentialed and privileged new rhetoricians can often sound.
So true. You’ve got Andy McCarthy telling us that president Obama is allied with radical Islamists in a Grand Jihad against America, Stanley Kurtz insisting that he was a Marxist revolutionary in college, and Dinesh D’Souza claiming he is motivated by the Kenyan anti-colonialism of a bygone era… Glenn Beck twists history in ways so conspiritorial he can’t even maintain his own consistency, and earns tens of millions peddling his untruths.
Of course, Hanson isn’t talking about those sophists. Instead he takes am at targets including climate science, the stimulus, and Ezra Klein:
There is also a new generation of young, sophistic bloggers who offer their wisdom from the New York-Washington corridor. They are usually graduates of America’s elite colleges and navigate in an upscale urban landscape. One, the Washington Post’s 26-year-old Ezra Klein, recently scoffed to his readers that a bothersome U.S. Constitution was “100 years old” and had “no binding power on anything.”
Two points: One, of the “sophists” Andrew points out, Glenn Beck maybe comes as close as it gets. Beck confesses that he “could give a flying crap about the political process.” He works for “an entertainment company.” But I think it’s worse than that. He is playing both sides and believes both sides of his persona. Two, the point about Ezra Klein. As Andrew goes on to point out, Hanson is wrong on the merits of what Klein was doing. But there’s something that I’d like to say about the Constitution. The Constitution as a groovy thing, something we should be very proud of–but it has been amended twenty-seven times. To amend something is to make it better. That’s the definition of amending. So, clearly the Constitution wasn’t perfect when it was adopted. No, we’re not moving in some pseudo-Hegelian Progress of History toward perfection, but we have as a country changed the Constitution twenty-seven times to make it better. In other words, history is liberal: we can make things better. That’s not to say, throw all caution to the wind and make whimsical changes to the law of the land, but it is to say that we have, can, and should try to make things better. We should be wary of unintended and unforeseen consequences, but we should still try to make things better. To put it differently, the status quo came from a biased position–it is not bias free. Let’s try to take stock of the situation, bring in lots of information, propose ways forward, and go with what seems better.