Getting out of trouble
    vs. not getting in to trouble

Why is it John Kerry’s job to describe in detail how he will get us out of the mess that George W. Bush has landed us in? It’s enough for him to promise not to make similar blunders in the future.

One of Len Deighton’s early novels has as its epigraph a quotation from a book on handling small sailing craft. The quotation is a list of rules for handling a small boat in a gale on a lee shore.

Rule #1 is never to get caught in a gale on a lee shore in a small boat.

John Kerry can’t honestly promise the nation that he will kiss the Iraqi boo-boo and make it better. And it’s utterly unreasonable of reporters to demand of him a detailed exit strategy. What Kerry can promise that, if he is elected, he will not get us into similar fixes in the future.

[If any reader can supply the source and the exact quotation, I’ll be grateful.]


My readers come through once again. It’s from Horse Under Water:

“Perhaps the worst plight of a vessel is to be caught in a gale on a lee shore. In this connection the following rules should be observed.

1. Never allow your vessel to be found in such a predicament.”

The original quotation is from L.F. Callingham’s Seamanship: Jottings for the Young Sailor

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: