Ugh. I can’t let this pass.
Yesterday I happened upon Lincoln Chafee on one of the Sunday shows, giving his elevator pitch for why he should be President. You may recall that Chafee, former Republican Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, turned independent after being defeated for re-election and now is following Bernie Sanders’ example, declaring himself a Democrat for the purpose of getting nominated. Chafee is another politician, like the Bush bothers and Hillary Clinton, who owes his initial political prominence to being related to a popular political figure rather than his own innate abilities. As he made obvious the more he spoke…
His two primary campaign positions were 1) “Wage peace”—whatever that means. This is right up there with John Lennon songs as serious policy discourse, though I’m sure ISIS is fascinated by the concept, and 2) Adopt the metric system. Chafee borrowed this from the idea machine known as the Andrew Johnson administration, as Andy was the first President to officially acknowledge the benefits of the U.S. adopting the less eccentric measurement system used by Europe. I’m sure we all can agree that this is one of the most pressing issues facing the country today.
However, Chafee really got my attention, and sparked this post, when he attempted to combine his two prime objectives, which is no mean trick. I tried to find a transcript, video or a news report to document this, but so far I have failed: maybe everyone is trying to be nice. I swear I am not making this up, though I wish I were.
Chafee argued that the United States should adopt the Metric system because it invaded Iraq and didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.
He really did. He said that adopting the metric system was the right thing to do because first and foremost, it would show that we were sorry for the invasion, that we no longer regarded ourselves as smarter than everyone else, that we would be humbling ourselves before the world, and announcing that we were finally part of the world community. (You know, like when the pods get you in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”) And, Chafee said, the conversion has other benefits, so everybody wins!
1. I was going to make this an Ethics Dunce post, but ethics dunce doesn’t begin to cover how mind-blowingly stupid Chafee’s argument is. First of all, even if he were correct that the United States is obligated to show penance for making a good faith effort to enforce a the terms cease fire that the U.N. didn’t have the integrity to enforce itself, removing a brutal and dangerous dictator and his two monstrous sons, and sacrificing soldiers and treasure to do so, his reasoning is bats. “The United States humbly apologizes for helping to mess up the Middle East and stir up terrorists like hornets in a nest sprayed by a hose, so we think the proper way to make it up to everyone is to start using meters and liters. There. We’re even now.” What kind of mind thinks like that? That’s not making amends, reparations, damages or compensation, that’s an insult, trivializing the alleged offense, as well as one that makes an government offering such an “apology” look like, well, look like it’s run by utter boobs.
Like Lincoln Chafee.
2. Chafee betrays his Obama-like belief that the Unites States as a culture should reject any aspirations to higher principles, goals, missions and values than the cesspool of realpolitik that is the rest of the world, using the metric system as symbolic surrender. The advocates of this irresponsible and culturally destructive position are the ones who always begin arguments with “the United States is the only Western nation that..” as if “everybody does it” is the definitive, unarguable factor in deciding right and wrong. The fact that the United States was the only nation in the world to try its experiment with representative democracy, was spectacularly successful and changed the world as a result seems beyond the comprehension of politicians like Chafee.
3. The failure of the metric system to take hold the other times a conversion has been attempted in the U.S. is attributable to the national character of independence and defiance of government edicts that Chafee wants to jettison. This is an American strength, even though, as in the case of weights and measures, it has its price. Chafee said yesterday that Canada made the transition smoothly, so why would the U.S. be any different? This man has the hubris to run for President, and he doesn’t understand that U.S. culture is very different from Canada, and that Americans don’t think like Canadians.
4. Is it unethical to run for President when you are this silly and incompetent? I think so. Democrats are at risk of being stuck with the most corrupt, disliked, mistrusted candidate of any major party in U.S. history, and to present yourself as an alternative that almost makes her look good is irresponsible.
5. The state of Rhode Island elected this silly man repeatedly because his name was familiar, and had pleasant associations for them due to his father. Isn’t that pathetic? Chafee majored in the Classics, studied to be a specialist in horse hoof care and worked at a race track before entering politics. With little but his name to recommend him, Chafee was appointed to his father’s seat in the U.S. Senate when former long-time Rhode Island governor John Chafee, died in 1999. Lincoln Chafee won re-election the same year. Care to guess how many voters didn’t realize Lincoln wasn’t his father? This sad sequence has been repeated for centuries, in both parties, in every state, saddling our government at every level with sons, daughters, siblings and widows who are unqualified for office. It is citizenship malpractice.
6. Of course it makes sense for the U.S. to convert to the metric system. Using Iraq to justify it, however, is the argument of a total dolt, and yes, an Ethics Dunce.