VA Bloggers: Play a Tough Schedule

In the midst of all the “debates” going on now–debating a blogger code of conduct, debating debates among the candidates, and debating the many and various issues in the Virginia gubernatorial campaign–comes a really excellent point about debating that I think we’d all do well to consider.

Mickey Kaus at Slate “fisked” a Malcom Gladwell story in New Yorker magazine about co-pays and health insurance. I think he made a great point here:

Like many New Yorker policy articles, Gladwell’s reads like a lecture to an isolated, ill-informed and somewhat gullible group of highly literate children. They are cheap dates. They won’t think of the obvious objections. They won’t demand that you “play Notre Dame,” as my boss Charles Peters used to say, and take on the best arguments for the other side. They just need to be given a bit of intellectual entertainment and pointed off in a comforting anti-Bush direction.

Forget Gladwell and Bush in the quote–think about that nugget of advice provided by Charles Peters: “play Notre Dame.”

I think all of us are guilty at times of reflexively relying on our partisanship to dismiss arguments, ideas, proposals, or policies offered by the “other side.” We really ought to confront their best arguments because maybe, just maybe, the “other side” might have a point.

We could adapt Peters’ maxim to the Virginia Way: “play Virginia Tech.”

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. This is hilarious!

    What I wouldn’t do as a VT fan to play Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, or any of the other schools that won’t play us. Sigh.

    Sorry that was off topic ; )

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    It’s hardly only the New Yorker that’s guilty of this. Virtually every talk radio program and debate show on cable tv has it’s own list of easy dismisals that allow people beg off any substance and simply use emotional code words. Instead of making a case for anything, people hunt through the archives, pick out this or that anecdote about someone, and bang: you your label. No need for a policy argument. Our entire political debate often seems boiled down to these sorts of “gotcha” code words. This election in Virginia looks to be no different.

    I have to give Bacon’s Rebellion props though. This is NOT a site where you see that sort of thing very often. Republican, Democrat, it’s about the fine details. It’s from people that are actually interested in the history and expertise necessary to judge this or that proposal. If I want to hear the talking points and buzzwords on message, there are places for that too. But this site isn’t one you can read and come away thinking that you can easily write off any candidate because they happen to fall under some cheap smear word. Well, maybe Potts.

  3. Not Larry Sabato Avatar
    Not Larry Sabato

    Excellent job Will.

  4. JohnMcG Avatar

    James Lileks’s screeds are my least favorite example of this. He’ll take on a nutty college student, or protestor, but rarely the best arguments.

    Glad to fnd you, Will — I’ve missed you.

Leave a Reply