Bill Murchison

The existence of free speech rights by no means guarantees their intelligent exercise. A catastrophic fault of the Republican campaign in 2008 was that of failing to pull away the cloak of mystery in which Barack Obama wrapped himself. Who ever asked what he meant by "hope"? Not the media. Not John McCain. What was the "change" he wanted? "Change" to what? From what? The Wizard of Ooze held the curtain tight, lest he be surprised in mid-platitude. We let him get away with it. If many had they seen what was going on, they might still have applauded, such was their exhaustion with the Bush administration. The mostly unexamined premises of the Obama administration led in any case to Obamacare, then to the flattening of economic growth and the burgeoning of regulation. Also to the emergence of a foreign policy without, apparently, a central premise.

The Republicans are a long way from settling on a presidential ticket; still, their little get-together at Saint Anselm College puts in mind some exciting possibilities, chiefly -- for the present -- that of obliging the president of the United States to explain himself. And if he still won't? That's up to the voters.

The name Saint Anselm, I am bound to mention, resonates in another way. Anselm was a medieval (that is to say, pre-Reformation) archbishop of Canterbury: a philosopher best known for his philosophical approach to proving the existence of God. I have always found the good old saint's approach a bit of a brain-twister. Never mind. In the improbable midst of a presidential campaign, Anselm's name puts the candidates of either and all parties in their place.

The sovereign urgency we now ascribe to politics and political choices arises from the delusion that we're in charge of everything; that nothing -- not norms, not truths, not the designs of God -- constrains the human vision that we're forever monkeying with and trying out on the basis of head-counts.

The great debate in human affairs doesn't by all rights concern who should be president. It concerns how humans ought to live regardless of who becomes president.

William Murchison writes from Dallas. To find out more about William Murchison and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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