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The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

HUMPTY-DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALL

While I was in computer purgatory, Donald Trump, whose eventual nomination I have been confidently predicting, took some major steps toward inflicting on himself wounds from which he may not recover.  I confess I simply did not anticipate the depths of his stupidity.  Serious policy wonks will focus on his bold refusal to take “off the table” the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Europe, but my attention, like that of most of America, was captured by the moment in the Chris Matthews “town hall” interview when Mr. Trump, his face screwed up in a caricature of serious thinking, offered the opinion that women who have abortions “must be punished.”  It was, both for Trump and for Matthews, a tour de force.  Trump managed in one magical moment to unite the pro-life and pro-choice forces, which have been locked in a death struggle for half a century.  Matthews managed finally to puncture Trump’s fa├žade of imperturbability and force him to reveal himself for the blustering fool he is.

It was transparently clear that Trump had never given a moment’s thought to the question of abortion, beyond embracing what he repeatedly refers to ritually as the Ronald Reagan position – “pro-life with exceptions” [i.e., “rape, incest, and the life of the mother.”]  The anti-abortion forces for decades have been piously referring to the pregnant woman, with staggering illogic, as “the victim” in an abortion, despite insisting that the abortion she seeks and pays for is murder.  Poor Donald, who had neglected to take note of this talking point, can be seen in the video painfully thinking his way through the question whether, should abortion be illegal, the woman should be punished, and drawing the logical, but absolutely forbidden, conclusion that she should be.  At that precise moment, Donald Trump ceased to be the inevitable Republican nominee.  Mind, he may still he be unstoppable.  The next month or so will tell.  But as someone commented, he has become one of the undead – no longer viable, but possibly unstoppable nonetheless.


I have been rather critical of Matthews in this space, so I think it is only fair for me to give credit where it is due.  Matthews was brilliant, relentless, undistracted by Trump’s attempt to re-direct the conversation to Matthews’ Catholicism.  It is worth watching the entire exchange and not just the eight or nine second sound bite in which Trump utters the fateful line that there “must be punishment” for the woman.  What fascinated me was that Matthews got Trump to say those words by bullying him.  He simply refused to let Trump off the hook, as every other interviewer has thus far.  Trump could have refused to answer – by far the wiser course.  But Matthews just plain bullied him into giving a reply.  Trump was revealed, in that moment, as all bullies eventually are, as a craven coward, not at all an alpha male, who cannot stand up to someone who is simply stronger than he is.

8 comments:

Tom Cathcart said...

The funniest part about it was that, with all the huffing and puffing the anti-abortion people did, no one addressed the fact that, given the murder premise, what he said made perfect sense. The ones who allow exceptions for rape, etc. have never been able to explain why, several months after a rape, it's okay to "murder" a third party. So it goes.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Exactly. In his blundering way, he ignorantly drew the logical conclusion, not realizing it was a no-no.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Speaking of game theory,

http://www.sciencealert.com/physicists-just-figured-out-how-quantum-mechanics-pops-up-in-game-theory

Chris said...

Is it just me, or does Chris Matthews always look a little drunk...

Robert Paul Wolff said...

on sacramental wine?

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Could be his diabetes....

Chris said...

Haha!

orbtaj light said...

Don't you think that some good things would come of a Donald Trump presidency? Firstly I think that NATO would break up (Turkey's reign of terror + an even MORE right-wing America + Possibly a Corbyn UK wouldn't tolerate it). Secondly (and on this I'm not sure) the US could lose its permanent seat (and veto power!) on the UN Security Council.

I think that the US, as the #1 state sponsor of terrorism since 1946, losing power would be a great thing for world peace and social progress in a time where global warming threatens to destroy us all if the developed world can't work together. There are no US candidates which will actually bring the nations together (Sanders is another Obama in every sense except domestic economics), so why not make the western world euro-centric again? I have much more faith in UK/Germany/France to lead the charge against global warming than the current hegemon.