Admittedly, as Emerson instructs, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Still, Washington at the moment seems to be suffering from notably "large" and "inconsistent" minds.
There is, of course, the hilarious inconsistency and largeness of John Edwards charging $50,000 to give a college speech on poverty; specifically noting that we live in two Americas, one rich (those who get paid $50,000 for a half-hour speech) and one poor (those who have to take out a long-term loan to pay for their college textbooks -- and whose college payments paid for Edward's $50,000 speaking fee).
Also, and now famously, there is Al Gore: the energy-gobbling, carbon-emitting, endomorphic carbon-based life form who morally condemns all who gobble energy and emit carbon.
Not to be outdone, the last few years have seen rock-ribbed conservative Republicans calling for limited government and balanced budgets -- while spending the country into bankruptcy at the urgings of their friendly former staffer/lobbyists who funneled money to their re-election campaigns.
Well, at least all these inconsistencies are understandable as the natural product of the universal human yearning to enrich oneself and feather one's nest.
But there are other inconsistencies currently afoot in Washington that are a disgrace to man's proud claim to be a reasoning beast.
Consider the current arguments about the immigration bill. For oh so long, the supporters of the bill have been making two points: 1) It is impossible for the U.S. government to actually identify and round up all the illegals in the country; and, 2) a fence on the border is bound to be ineffective as well as being immoral. Indeed opponents of the fence have idiotically compared it to the Berlin Wall -- although one protects a free country from illegal intrusion, while the other kept enslaved people from escaping their slavery.
Also, suddenly, they have lost all their moral outrage about the fence: "You want a morally offensive fence, no problem, you got a fence. What, me worry about moral consistency?"
Of course, it has to be pointed out that those of us who have called for strict enforcement of existing law are now putting forward the argument that the bureaucracy that we used to think could protect the country if only the federal government would let them do their job now insist that there is no way our federal bureaucrats could possibly enforce the proposed new law.
Regarding the fence, the supporters of the new immigration law, are, with the exception of the president and Sen. McCain, mostly people who oppose the Surge in Iraq. Yet, while they require that the Iraqi surge have specific performance measures to justify continued funding (e.g., perfectly functioning Iraqi government, no more violence, etc.), they are perfectly happy to measure the success of the new proposed Mexican border fence by inputs -- rather than results.
We Americans famously lack a historic memory. This has its advantages, as we don't get tied down by historic enmities too well remembered -- but rather think about how to shape and adapt to the future. But it would be nice if we could remember the arguments the politicians and commentators made only last Thursday. Just a little intellectual accountability might yield a more considered and rational policy-making process. Silly me.