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September 15, 2006

A Note About My Meeting With Former President Clinton

-- by Dave Johnson

Some of Tuesday's meeting with former President Clinton was on the record, but much of it was off. I am (still) waiting for a transcript so I can write about it. The people at the Clinton Foundation are busy, because they are getting ready for next week's Clinton Global Initiative. (I'll be there. Check out the guest list and tell me what I should wear.)

But one thing Clinton said has me thinking about something else, (and it was in the off-the-record part of the meeting but was the kind of thing I am sure it is OK to repeat). He said something about how conservatives can become very compassionate when they have direct contact with something. He mentioned as an example how they are supposedly against gay people, but the ones who actually know any gay people don't have any problem with it. He used the example of Vice President Cheney whose daughter is a lesbian and Cheney is OK with it. He repeated this a few times, about how conservatives have to have personal contact with something before they seem to get it...

This reminded me of something I came across recently.

I am reading George Lakoff's latest book, Whose Freedom? In the book, Lakoff explores the difference between direct and systemic causation, and how conservatives focus on direct causation while progressives focus on systemic causation. Lakoff explains direct causation as, "You throw a ball and the ball goes through the air. You flip a switch and a light turns on." But a systemic relationship is a a causal relationship involving a complex system. Example" "Global warming is causing the melting of the polar ice caps. The use of fossil fuels is causing global warming." He cites the use of "i "A complex system functions over a significant period of time, during which human prevention or corrective action can occur."is causing."

So conservatives say that driving their SUV doesn't cause the polar ice caps to melt because they only put a little bit of CO2 into the air. It's like they have to be hit over the head, something right in their face, before they see connections. (Unless it's connections between the UN and black helicopters, I guess.)

Anyway, this is just a quick note explaining why I haven't yet written very much about the meeting. I do have a lot to say, but I think I should wait until I know what s on or off the record.

Meanwhile, go read Christy at Firedoglake.

Posted by Dave Johnson at September 15, 2006 12:03 PM

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Comments

"The Clinton Global Initiative is designed to inspire action. Every participant must pledge to take a specific action in one of our focus areas. These commitments have ranged from $100 million to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, to a donation of 20,000 bicycles in disaster-torn Sri Lanka, to 100 hours volunteered in an interfaith youth group."

Maybe you'd better worry about what action you're going to pledge, rather than what you're going to wear? I imagine any kind of business suit would be OK.

That's quite an interesting guest list!

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 12:25 PM

That's crap. Right-wingers have slightly more difficulty kicking someone in the teeth than ordering that they get kicked in the teeth. There's no compassion involved, just a bit of reluctance to get soiled doing their own dirty work. Why would anyone who really wants to fight right-wingers frame it any other way? Clinton. Jeeesh.

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 4:05 PM

Oh yeah -- Clinton Global Initiative. That's SCARY. Put the words Cinton and global together and all I am reminded of is how his savage global trade policies destroyed the lives of millions of American workers. Isn't he satisifed yet?

Posted by: richard [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 4:10 PM

Dave -- when you do write, can you answer why/how Clinton can hold a blogger meeting in Harlem and invite no people of color? This matters. See the piece Gilliard has up.

Posted by: janinsanfran [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 4:12 PM

I know several "people of color" who were invited. They just couldn't come. And Peter Daou was born in Lebanon.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 6:07 PM

Dave, I met you at Yearly Kos and have not forgotten how gracious you were to me. Thanks. As to what to wear to the Global Meeting, I would suggest you take a page from Steve Clemons book, he appears quite casual at such meetings judging from pictures. Just be yourself and all will be hunky-dory. Fight on and good luck.

Posted by: momster [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 7:56 PM

There's something to what Clinton's talking about, but I disagree as to extent. However far their compassion might develop with direct contact with an issue, it seems to be limited to the specifics of that contact point, and not the issue as a whole.

So, for instance, a conservative can pull off the "some of my best frieds are [black/Muslim/gay]" line, then turn around and declare that racial profiling is fine, gay marriage is wrong, and we should nuke Iran. Another example would be their understanding, through direct experience, that hunting is fun and preserving a forest means preserving hunting, but they don't think driving SUV's have anything to do with global warming, much less forests or hunting. Or take Justice Scalia, whose general motto is to take the narrowest possible interpretation of precedent. And, of course, Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, but both him AND his daughter are still part of and support a party apparatus that encourages and feeds on anti-gay sentiment.

Posted by: Bribes [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 2:21 AM

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