But the paradox here is that I'm an effectual warrior because the rest of the time I have broad interests and curiosities that expose me to diverse intellectual and ethical possibilities. At least, I aim to place myself to force such exposure.
All this meandering is introduction to some clarifying thoughts whose origin requires some explication. Here goes: a pretentious British historian at Harvard, Niall Ferguson, has published a trashy, lying attack on Barack Obama in Newsweek. No, I haven't read it. I've tried some of Ferguson's books and he did not impress -- and besides, I'm in a campaign so I don't have time for the latest pseudo-intellectual sludge. But lots of good academic liberals and journalists -- Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, James Fallows -- have taken Ferguson to the woodshed. There's a school of thought that Ferguson is just trying to inflate his speaking fees before business audiences rather than make any serious intervention in political debate.
Okay -- so this is just about greed and the excesses of campaign season. But Sir Charles at Cogitamus pointed to a more interesting commentary that reminded me of who I want to be when I am not in campaign mode. Here's some of what Timothy Burke, a professor in the Department of History at Swarthmore College, had to say about the Ferguson flap:
I hope I remember those verities, even when I'm in campaign mode. When this season is over, I'll be letting myself be grilled by my partner's public policy grad students on issues of campaign ethics. It will be an important conversation, I think.