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Ken Stein’s anti-Carter Phlegm January 26, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, history, Israel, Jimmy Carter, Logic, narrative, Other.

I was listening on the way into work today to an interview with Ken Stein about his reaction to Jimmy Carter’s new book and I have to say that I don’t really care for him.  I have not the expertise to really talk constructively about the disagreements between Carter and Stein, unfortunately, much less the Israelis and Palastinians, and I probably never will.  I’ve never read any of his books, including the one he wrote with Carter back in the 1980s.  But if the imprecise language and odd, traditional dualist logic of his interview persona is any indication, I would find them a trial.  Two quick examples:

1)  He believes that Carter is characterizing the bad situation in the Occupied Territories as entirely the fault of Israel.  And he claims, simultaneously that (and I’m paraphrasing a little here on this one because I couldn’t write it down while driving–not in Lowell, not during the commute time of the morning) if you tell this story, you can’t “unpack it” in such a way that one side is at fault.  Note: that is exactly what he accuses Carter of doing–unpacking it in such a way that it shows that Israel is at fault. 

Perhaps he meant to say that one shouldn’t.  Such statements require a different mode, a subjunctive one, which is used in English to indicate value judgements like this, among other things.  Perhaps Stein didn’t want his statement to sound like a value judgement.  Perhaps he wanted it to sound like a statement of fact. . . .

2)  This one is a direct quote, because I had reached the frigid wasteland of the faculty/staff parking lot by this point in time. 

“History always tells us the truth is somewhere in-between.”

Not to pick nits, here, Dr. Stein, but it tells us nothing of the sort.  Perhaps the ones that you write tell us this.  I have read many histories that do not simplistically group conflicts into two opposing sides and then claim that the truth is in-between. 

Is the glass half empty?  Is it half full?  To Dr. Stein, the glass is three-quarters full, or something close to that.


1. davidbdale - January 26, 2007

Granted, we’re just two among millions (I hope) who listened to the same NPR interview, but nonetheless, cave, it’s uncanny the coincidences in our thinking!

Here’s another little paraphrased gem from that smug prick of a former Carter collaborator: “Mister Carter is more AGILE WITH THE TRUTH than am I, who tends to a more strictly factual rendering of history.”

The examples he cited of Carter’s alleged AGILITY were tissue-thin and full of snot! Carter said at a press conference that the Syrian ambassador WAS CONSIDERING a compromise. Now Carter says the Syrian ambassador OFFERED a compromise! How dare he be so AGILE! That Mr Carter told less than the full truth to the press at a time when the news would have been to sensitive to reveal is something Stein never even considered. Oh, I could go on! Thanks for ranting for me. The dogs completely ignored me when I made these brilliant points in the kitchen this morning.

2. caveblogem - January 26, 2007


“Man’s best friend,” indeed. Your dog’s should listen to you more. I liked that “agility” phrase, too. But it doesn’t seem as damning in print as when he said it on the air. The examples were thin, snot-filled and hopefully not too contagious. I thought the interviewer did a pretty good follow-up on the guy, quoting Carter’s comments and all. Made him look pretty bad.

I have lots of baggage about Carter, particularly his miserable, ill-considered energy policy, but I feel like he cares about right and wrong. This Stein guy? Not so much.

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