Litmus Test

I’m not a fan of litmus tests, mostly because the world is a complicated place, and a person’s position on a single issue is unlikely to shed much light on that individual’s overall philosophical approach or analytical depth.

But I think reactions to the death of Nelson Mandela come pretty close to giving us a window into a person’s worldview, if not his soul.

in the late 1980’s, even prominent Republicans like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich were acknowledging the injustice and brutality of Apartheid. Dick Cheney, however, continued to characterize the ANC as a terrorist organization and to insist that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist leader who belonged in jail.

It’s one thing to be wrong about a contemporaneous situation; another to maintain a clearly erroneous position after everyone else in the world has recognized how wrong it is.

The problem with people like Dick Cheney isn’t that they make dangerously bad judgment calls. It’s that they stubbornly cling to their initial opinions no matter how much evidence emerges to rebut them. They are incapable of admitting that they were wrong, and thus incapable of evolving and learning–the very capacity that makes us human.

History will treat Nelson Mandela as the extraordinary human he was.

History will not be kind to the self-important, self-serving, delusional and very small man named Dick Cheney.


  1. Who is a terrorist is usually in the eyes of the beholder. Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the South African government (and its not-always-comfortable allies) because Mandela had begun committing acts of violence against the government and police state. This came after a long period of struggle by the ANC and others seeking peaceful reform. Mandela finally concluded that there was no other way to bring about a just government in South Africa.

    Taking up arms against an oppressive government is seen by some as being a terrorist. Others see it as being a freedom fighter. The soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the colonies were seen as traitors by the crown and those loyal to it. We consider them to be heroes fighting for the right cause. It all really depends on whose ox is being gored.

    So, from a certain perspective, Dick Cheney could say he was correct. I would disagree, and it is quite disturbing that he won’t admit that he could have been wrong about something. He’s not even willing to discuss the nuances involved. It’s unfortunate that he won’t keep his mouth shut.

  2. Sometimes, it’s amazing how far denial and delusion goes.

    Certain individuals at Penn State went a long way to protect the football program.

    North Korean Statements; accused Jang of womanizing, drug use, gambling, eating at expensive restaurants and undergoing medical treatment in a foreign country.

    All acts of high treason.

    Sounds more like the 1500’s, good old King Hal and all that.

  3. Cheney is very good at what he does but how can we blame him? He has played his hand to the fullest and become a very rich man in the process. Never has he hidden what he is: a man possessed with greed. It was the American public who, after clearly witnessing what he was, returned him to office. At the end of his term, even Bush refused to take his calls. So who should we look at? Who is the real culprit here? Who should we have put in the White House? Bonzo?

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