Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

False Inconsistency

An AP piece, titled “STIMULUS WATCH: GOP opposes plan then seeks money“, implies that some Republicans politicians are inconsistent because they opposed Obama’s stimulus bill and yet petitioned to get some of the stimulus money to their constituents. The article implies that the mere action of opposing the stimulus bill combined with the mere action of advocating that some of the stimulus money be spent on certain projects (rather than others) is inconsistent. I could see how the rhetoric surrounding both actions could be inconsistent but the article does not go into that direction. Let me repeat myself, the implication is that if a politician opposed the bill but wanted the stimulus money to be spent in a certain way, then this is sufficient to show that the politician is inconsistent.

Well I guess it would sound convincing to someone who never had to manage anything substantial in their life. I think it is perfectly natural and wise to plan for contingencies. A politician could sincerely oppose the bill and yet at the same time sincerely plan for the money to be spent wisely if it so happens that the bill passes. It would actually be irresponsible to do otherwise. A politician’s constituents are not isolated from the effects of a bill because the politician who represents them opposed this bill. The politician should actually make representations so that if the bill passes, his constituents are served.

Now, this does not mean that there are not other opportunities for these politicians to be inconsistent, or to dissemble. If a congressman opposed the stimulus bill and then while campaigning for reelection later claims that a project which benefited from stimulus money owes this benefit to him, without further qualification, then this claim is a misrepresentation. Because then he would be hiding the fact that he initially opposed the bill. However, this scenario is absent from the AP article.

It troubles me to see this kind of sensationalist journalism published. It troubles me even more when people believe it. It fuels a kind of knee-jerk mentality. This is a mentality which divides the world in well delimited and static polar opposites: us vs them, good vs bad. This is a mentality which seeks reassurance of its own worth. This is a mentality which can never be surprised but has already decided the outcome of all situations.