Friday, November 5, 2010

McConnell’s Aristotelian Causes Defense

Senator McConnell has explained his “one-term president” remark (1) by, in effect, claiming that his critics have mistaken an efficient cause for a final cause--or, roughly, with a means for an end.  As mentioned previously (2), McConnell’s statement can be read with clear policy objectives in mind, not merely with the defeat of a president at the polls.  And, curiously enough, McConnell has seized upon just this point in attempting to color his remarks in a more acceptable light.  Said McConnell:

“Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term. But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all of those things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.” (3)

Thus does McConnell frame his original remarks as directed towards a political end (the defeat of a president) that will service genuine policy ends.  By McConnell’s telling, the efficient cause of denying President Obama a second term will best effectuate the final cause--or telos--of a more prosperous and free America.

Of course, he could just be trying to walk back his statement with some good ‘ol fashioned Aristotelian spin.

(1) National Journal. "Top GOP Priority is to Make Obama a One Term President." Interview with Senator Mitch McConnell. October 23, 2010.
(2) "McConnell’s “One-term President” Remark has Clear Policy Implications" Analytic Politics, November 4, 2010.
(3) McConnell, Mitch. “Listening to the People Who Sent Us Here.” Remarks to the Heritage Foundation. Washington, DC. November 4, 2010.

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