"Our representatives — and to a great degree we as a culture — are completely buffaloed by shamelessness." [→ READ ]
This is striking imagery in the wake of Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence: these guys have found the exploit in our system of government — a previously unrecognized vulnerability through which it can be destroyed for profit — and that exploit is its dependence on shame. (That is, against men unconstrained by shame we have little protection.)
Kung Fu Monkey writes about this today:
Our representatives — and to a great degree we as a culture — are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man’s corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty … dammmnnnn.
Naturally I think of exploit in the context of operating systems, browsers, and other software. And I think that’s an apt analogy: these guys are malicious hackers who’ve found a hole in the system and are stealing every credit card number and password they can find, as swiftly and voraciously as possible.
This topic shame is of related anthropological/theological interest (though IANAA) insofar as it was presented to me in seminary classes as a primary hermeneutic for understanding Hebrew scripture: honor-shame culture permeates, shapes, even defines human behavior throughout the Old Testament. And beyond, of course, but it’s especially evident in most ancient cultures, where it was explicit instead of implicit as now.
Further, Glenn Greenwald, as usual, pierces to the heart of the matter, and brings to mind Madison’s assertion that our system was designed “to be run by devils” in not relying on good motivations to function. Oops:
It is no surprise that we have political leaders who are corrupt and abuse their power. Our whole political system is premised on the expectation that this will happen. But that expectation was accompanied by the attempt by the Founders to create as many safeguards and checks on those abuses as possible. Over the last six years, all of those safeguards have failed completely.
We have a radical and lawless government that has run rampant over the last six years precisely because the institutions designed to stop that abuse have not only stood idly by, but have actively defended and participated in it.