Friday, May 21, 2004

I might as well learn how to do this 

How interesting that Nick Coleman uses the pinata metaphor in the first paragraph of his rearguard action on the Yecke borking, since that's how he's been clubbed by other members of the NARN. For the most part I don't do Coleman bashings, because I'd have to quit my day job to do it well. But a few whacks might loosen up my shoulder for some golf later this weekend.
What happened to Minnesota Nice, [Yecke] is asking, which is like Lizzie Borden asking what happened to Mommy and Daddy while holding a dripping ax.
Isn't that a lovely metaphor? What's got Nicky and the DFL ("ah, but you repeat yourself." True, true.) is that the Republicans have pushed back, as Ron Eibensteiner pointed out in the American Experiment Quarterly's issue on Minnesota Nice.
Yecke, the most political education commissioner the state has ever had...
How so? Do you care to back up this claim?
...came from Virginia on a mission to remake the state's educational system in her image...
Did you catch the subtle religious allusion here? Nick, the woman was part of the Dept. of Education which had just passed a major education reform bill. States were supposed to follow it. What should we have done, passed an insolent "we don't like it" resolution as the cornerstone of Minnesota education policy?
and if she didn't entirely succeed at that, she did manage to ratchet up the rhetorical wars.
Not that you had anything to do with it.
Yecke had been on probation for a very long time ...
And why was that, little Nicky? To take a hostage, perhaps, to get their bonding bill passed? Or to collect more money from teacher unions?
...and she got expelled for very familiar reasons: She didn't listen, she called people names, she didn't play nicely with others and she couldn't count -- not to 34, anyway.
It's not "familiar," you fool. It's only the second time a commissioner has been denied confirmation. And up to the last minute, she was in fact expecting confirmation. She had the votes at 11pm on Saturday, she thought. They disappeared as the DFL Senate caucus stabbed her in the back after she had handed them the only bill they could say they helped write, the new academic standards. Try reading the paper: "The vote against Yecke came as a surprise.". Name-calling? We've been over this. Little Nicky, meet Britt Robson.
Her rejection in the Senate shows that the fight over education can only be resolved by consensus and bridge-building, not by polemics, partisan rhetoric and arrogance.
Try telling that to this polemicist from Swanson-Choi's website, or "M stands for me", or Skrentner, or this boomer who managed to put down the bong long enough to hold a sign.

Consensus, as Margaret Thatcher once wrote, is the negation of leadership.

To me consensus seems to be: the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner "I stand for consensus"?
Consensus is what the weak hide behind when they cannot win on the issues. It's an insistence on unanimity in order to give the wrongheaded power over the right.

The most influential sentence ever spoken to me was by Milton Friedman at a Western Economics Association meeting many years ago: "There is no midpoint between right and wrong."

Nick Coleman: Wrong again.