Friday, May 18, 2007

Sam Goldwyn Logic

This week's Economist contains an article on Hillary Clinton that overall is reasonably balanced but which lapses into one of the more annoyingly unfair anti-Hillary memes. After listing some of her strengths as a candidate, the article turns to her defects, and notes:
Nor is she particularly well equipped to bring reconciliation at home. Her biggest weakness is that she means more of the same when it comes to the vicious partisanship that so mars American politics. Her arrival in the White House would force America to live through a continuation of a bad-tempered soap opera that began in 1992.
Now wait a minute. I agree that Hillary's candidacy is likely to mean a season of "vicious partisanship." In fact, I am very worried about her status as the leading Dem candidate largely for that very reason. But to describe this as "Her biggest weakness" seems very wrong. The "vicious partisanship" I am dreading will take the form of mouth-frothing attacks and sub-rosa innuendos directed against Hillary by the Republicans whom she evidently drives crazy and who have already accused her of everything from lesbianism to murder. Calling this "her weakness" is blaming the victim, no?

There's an old story (probably apocryphal) about the movie mogul Sam Goldwyn. He supposedly had somebody on his payroll (a producer or director) who repeatedly warned him not to invest in a particular picture. Goldwyn got so annoyed that he fired the guy and then proceeded to invest a ton in the picture--which ended up as a massive flop. Years later, whenever somebody would suggest that Goldwyn swallow his pride and re-hire the guy he'd fired, he would always refuse, saying, "Never! That man was involved in my biggest failure!"

Seems to me that when the Economist faults Hillary for being "involved" in the vicious partisanship of the 1990s, they're using Sam Goldwyn logic.

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