I just read "Man and His Self-Interest" by Froma Harrop on RealClearPolitics.

All I'm left with is.... what. the. hell. is. this? I read it twice... some sections three times... and I have no idea what she is saying. I think she has NO idea what the concept of self-interest is, and thus any discussion in favor or against it ends up completely muddled.

She tries to discuss the primary challenge to Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter, and says
Specter would have probably lost that primary, since many of the Republican moderates who formed his support have left the party. Thus, he has declared himself a Democrat, a convenient label for the general election.

Specter is not unacquainted with self-interest. He's pretty strong on self-regard, as well.

But when Specter's jockeying for advantageous position threatened Toomey's happiness, Republican right-wingers predictably portrayed the senator's self-interest as selfishness. Betrayal is another word that comes up. [bold added]
I usually bold parts of quotations to highlight particularly cogent arguments. Here, I bold things that MAKE NO SENSE. I have NO idea what the hell this writer is trying to say.

Her horrible article just gets worse and worse as it goes along. In the end, I believe she is trying to say that Republicans like Toomey shouldn't be so harsh in pushing a fiscal conservative agenda, because it's hurting the feelings of people like Specter and forcing them out of the party. I don't know enough about Harrop to guess why she cares. I read the article solely because of the headline, and ended up reeling from the barrage of shallow, nonsensical arguments and the gossipy, sniping tone.


Burgess Laughlin said...
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Burgess Laughlin said...

I read Harrop's article this way:

Republican Toomey wants the US government to apply Adam Smith's notion of using individual self-interest to benefit society.

Specter, to stay in power, acted in his self-interest, as he saw it, by voting for Democratic measures many times. Why? To keep the support he needed from moderate/leftist voters to stay in power.

The ideologically motivated Republicans of the right said Specter was being selfish, that is, pursuing his own narrow self-interest (staying in power, no matter how) and not sacrificing himself for the good of conservatism.

Conclusion: The Republicans, such as Toomey, are contradicting themselves: They want self-interest as a guide but when a Republican acts in his self-interest, they get upset.
Summary: Republican support for self-interest is hypocritical and self-destructive.

What's missing (besides an objective writing style!) are the ideas of "rational" and "long-term," when characterizing self-interest.

C. August said...

"The ideologically motivated Republicans of the right said Specter was being selfish ...not sacrificing himself for the good of conservatism."

That's the key for me to make sense of what she wrote. Thanks!

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