Valor Words

So here’s Matt Yglesias noting another valor-word issue. This time the word is ‘principle’. I’m good because I have principles. Well that’s nice, but what kind of principles? What principles? Which ones? Be specific. Give details. Include time place and brand.

Indeed, most Lieberman supporters seem to have abandoned making the case for their man on the merits. Instead, the keyword is principle. A DLC press release called Lieberman “a man of utmost integrity who speaks and governs by his values and principles.”

And there’s another one – integrity. Integrity, again, is only as good as it is. Lots of people can have integrity. The integrity of an axe-murderer isn’t all that desirable. The integrity of a selfish conceited bullying windbag isn’t much worth boasting of either. Both of these are much like Bush’s vaunted ‘resolve’ – which is, again, only as good as it is. Blind stupid determination to go on doing what you’ve once decided to do no matter what, without paying attention to dissenting opinions or nonsupporting evidence, is not entirely a virtue, or a particularly good principle. They’re all valor words, they all need careful examination of particulars.

That’s the trouble with principles – they’re only good if you’re principles are the right ones. If Lieberman’s allies want to help him stay in office, they’re going to have to start convincing people that his are – just pointing out that he has some isn’t good enough.


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