Sunday, October 03, 2004

Gentlemen, Meet the Real Thomas Jefferson

In a classic case of taking a quote wildly out of context, Mark Kleiman says:

The original phrase, I think, was "a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind."
But then Thomas Jefferson was sort of ... well, French ... wasn't he?

Kerry might well say:

The President isn't criticizing me. He's criticizing the signers of the Declaration of Independence. They proposed the first global test. They called it "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

And, you'll never guess who approves. All the worse, since when a commenter points out the obvious (more on that shortly) we get:

Are you saying that Jefferson's reasons are weak, and insufficient proof?

No, he is merely pointing out that Jefferson's context is missing. First, George W. Bush wasn't seceding from the Iraqi Empire:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Second, Jefferson isn't asserting proof. Nor seeking the world's permission. After the fact (Hint, we've already opened the hostilities, at Lexington and Concord, and now we're declaring our independence; take it or leave it) . He's merely explaining what is in the best interest of the new republic.

Which Bush did before starting the invasion, with a coalition, and explained to a far greater extent, "the causes which impell" us to act.

Btw, how far would a challenger for Jefferson's presidency have gotten arguing that Jefferson's handiwork was, The wrong declaration, in the wrong place, at the wrong time?

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