S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Sunday, March 14, 2004
 
KRISTOF'S COLUMN ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES AND WHAT KILLS US

According to Nicholas Kristoff, Americans think acting tough and dropping bombs is more "presidential" than being balanced and practical. A president is apparently the leader who airs on the side of murder, sadism and carnage when he is confronted with America's problems.

Kristoff, in his column, points out that of food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars, terrorism kills the least Americans (even accounting for the worst years), and cars (he should say driving) kill the most Americans annually. That means food-related illnesses, firearms, and the flu, too, kill more Americans than terrorism. Sweden has this shit under control:

Sweden has reduced traffic deaths by encouraging seat belt use, converting intersections to traffic circles (they "soothe" traffic), replacing rigid guardrails with new rails or cables that absorb or "catch" cars, and exhorting cyclists to wear helmets. The upshot is that Sweden 's accident rate is one of the lowest in the world.

"If the United States could achieve Sweden's current standard, this would save 12,500 lives per year," the authors say.

Granted, it seems less presidential to call for more guardrails than to invade Middle Eastern countries.
HUH?! Not to me!

If the purpose of national policy is to insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, then why does it seem more presidential "to invade Middle Eastern countries?"

The invasion of Iraq is killing more people than its saving from death, and the President continues to neglect the other problems that must be addressed to save more people here. There's a gap here; do Americans really believe invasion seems more presidential than saving lives?

What Kristoff refuses to entertain here is that maybe Americans will respond more favorably to somebody who wants to attack these problems; nobody can have an opinion on what approach is presidential (invasion or "guardrails") if this conversation hasn't even taken place in the national discourse. 117 Americans die from car accidents each day, few Americans ever die of terrorism.

The people in the red states, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Mississippi, are probably more afraid of terror than cars, people (like me) here in New York City are too smart for cars, but want more balance in a president. Invasion ain't quite good enough to convince us that we're in good hands...


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