Thursday, August 03, 2006

Somewhere between talking with my father-in-law about engineering challenges, talking about a conservative friend about war in the Middle East, and reading a batch of P. J. O'Rourke quotes, it occurs to me that not enough people understand the difference between managing a problem and fixing it.

It's easy to attack Clinton, for example, because he held a series of peace talks which ultimately fell apart and did not, in fact, result in a lasting peace in the Middle East. That ignores, however, the fact that in the lead up to the peace talks there was posturing and hope and rhetoric being thrown around, and then during the talks there was more of the same, and for a while after the talks even more, and that the throwing around of rhetoric is infinitely preferable to throwing bombs and such. And that about the time that the bomb throwing was starting up again, another rounds of talks would be announced, and the posturing would begin anew.

When a problem can't be fixed, it needs to be managed, which can either minimize the harm or, at least, prevent it from growing.

Like the Middle East, government is a problem to be managed. Most of us vote once every four years or so for the same party, and we imagine we've actually accomplished something. Right now, the Republicans are running things, and they're doing it with a mixture of incompetence and corruption that leaves me with my head in my hands. We absolutely need to kick them to the curb. But if all we do is replace the "Bad Guys" with the "Good Guys", we're not really solving the problem. Corruption is an inevitable consequence of power, and history makes it pretty obvious that Democrats are not immune. We're in for a world of hurt if we think kicking the Republicans out of office means that we're done.

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