Boing Boing, Violet Blue, and Web Collage

Now that The New York Times has weighed in on the Boing Boing versus Violet Blue imbroglio, a topic where I didn’t realize I had much to say, I realized that I did have a couple of words.

I think it’s really very good when people reconsider the things they’ve said in conversation. My goodness, you can still find things I wrote on the Internet ten or fifteen years ago, and I certainly don’t think all of the same things now. I think that the evolution of personal viewpoints is normal, and healthy, and should be welcome.

However, I think it’s really bad when you pretend not to have said the things that you previously did. To enforce this kind of ex post facto internal consistency is dishonest. Maybe not to-the-core dishonest, but certainly untrustworthy, and in general not the kind of conversational partner I want to have.

I think that de-publishing is much closer to (but not the same as) pretending you never said something than it is to reconsidering previous viewpoints. It does strike me as uncomfortably Orwellian, even if it is a private group doing it, rather than the government. I mean, how would people feel if the New York Times decided to remove every mention of Monica Lewinsky from their archive due to poor behavior on her part? If Warren Ellis is right, and Cory and Xeni are the “cut and paste editors of the Internet,” then it matters, regardless of whether that job was thrust upon them or one that they willingly embraced.

Finally, wading through blog comments on this whole issue reminds me why it’s a good thing to keep your conversations small in the first place.

A psychological interpretation of the McClellan Affair

For me, the strangest thing about the whole Scott McClellan book controversy is that nobody seems interested in a deep psychological interpretation as to why he’s spilling the beans now.

Democrats don’t seem to be interested in McClellan’s motivations at all: their only question is why he waited so long to tell the “undeniable truth,” when they would have been able to use this information more effectively several years ago to influence political events. Democrats seem to assume that McClellan has seen the light, end of story.

When Republicans ask why McClellan betrayed Bush, after all of his years of apparently loyal service, they answer that it’s an attempt to ingratiate himself to those on the left, or that it’s all about the money.

Inasmuch as simplistic motivations are all components of human self-justification, these are all believeable reasons, as far as they go. But human motivations tend to be multidimensional, especially when they represent a break in character for a previously consistent person.

I submit that McClellan betrayed Bush because Bush betrayed him.

That is, McClellan stuck with Bush for so long because he believes so deeply in personal loyalty, the cardinal virtue of the Bush administration. But McClellan also believes that loyalty is not a hierarchical relationship: that is, he expects loyalty to flow not only from underling to overlord, but from King to Peasant. It’s a feudal relationship, to be sure, but one that offers mutual benefits and protection.

I suspect that McClellan wasn’t bothered by lying for Bush, and for those involved in the Plame scandal. I believe that he would have been willing to do so had he not been lied toкомпютри втора употреба. The disloyalty and lack of trust shown by the administration in not trusting him with the truth was their betrayal of him, and why he has repaid them with his own treachery.

Even then, it seems to me that he might have kept his mouth shut if he’d been provided for. But what exactly has McClellan been doing for the last two years, besides writing his memoir? It doesn’t seem, from my limited research, that he’s been in the pocket of any Washington think-tanks or lobbyists.

So stalwart Bush loyalist McClellan was lied to, and has been left out to twist slowly in the wind for two years. The administration used and abandoned him, despite his unwavering loyalty. Why wouldn’t he respond in kind? There come a point when it becomes clear to even the most trustworthy toady that he’s become disposable, and it’s poor leadership to expect that they’ll remain loyal without mutual aid and comfort.