Monday, July 07, 2008


This is a continuation of a discussion in the comments section down the page, in which I intimated that Obama's judgment was better than McCains. In it Kullervo (who may or may not be related to Random Goblin) suggested that my appraisal of McCain's and Obama's Judgment implied that I was using Justice to mean "agrees with me."
I think judgment has a whole lot more to do with process, and what the decision-making is based on.
It is a tricky point to defend, I have to admit. Because the results of McCain's and Obama's Judgement over the years are in dispute. And Kullervo's right - the Process does matter. Certainly I'd be less secure in my support of Obama if he regularly stated "I am taking this position because the voices in my head told me too."

That said, I'm not sure you can decouple process from results. McCain has taken stances over the last few years that I think are terrible errors, both morally and practically. He has also done some things I agree with. I'm not sure how you have a good judgment process that leads you to support the President having the authority to spy on who he likes without authorization. I'm not sure you have a good judgment process that leads you to support a stance of extreme belligerence with Iran, up to and including "Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran."

Now Obama has made some errors in the past as well, including his long association with the Reverend Wright and his support for the recent Telecom Amnesty bill.

So the secret is to look at their thought processes and determine, with the challenges facing us in 2009, which thought processes, which judgment is more likely to produce a correct response. Senator McCain has disagreed with President Bush on a few notable points (he thought we should have committed more troops to Iraq, he has, on some occasions, opposed torture and favored closing down Guantenemo), but in large part he's supported President Bush in his pursuit of the War on Terror.

So why should one assume that McCains judgment, which has led him to support such a destructive array of policies from 2001 to 2008, will begin advising him to take positive steps after 2009?

To answer that question, one would have to examine the rationales McCain (and Obama) have taken for their positions over the years, and see if those rationales are likely to lead to different actions in the future (as conditions change).

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