In war and politics, take the high ground

Why “morality v. pragmatism” is the wrong frame.

The key political fact about the Schiavo case so far is that it’s being reported as “morality v. pragmatism.” The notion that it might be immoral to tell lies about Terri Schiavo’s condition and prognosis, or to keep the body alive when the self is gone, or to substitute what the Congress wants to happen to Terri Schiavo for what Terri Schiavo would have wanted to happen to Terri Schiavo, or to make a public circus out of a private tragedy, or to make up and spread horrible rumors about Michael Schiavo’s actions and nasty insinuations about his motives, or to call Judge Greer a “murderer” and a “terrorist”, seem to be too complicated for the typical reporter to understand.

As long as the right wing is seen as standing up for moral values, they’re going to continue to win elections.

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: