I’ve been thinking about Buridan’s ass.
While that might be a phrase you’d expect to hear passing Bill Clinton’s lips — if he had an intern whose last name was Buridan — I have something else in mind.
In philosophy, Buridan’s ass is a paradox about determinism, named after 14th-century philosopher Jean Buridan (but was probably first proposed by Aristotle). Via Professor Wikipedia:
It refers to a hypothetical situation wherein an ass that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. Since the paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.
There are other versions of the same dilemma, some with two piles of hay or a human instead of a donkey. But you get the point. Personally, I think it’s kind of a dumb paradox when applied to human action as opposed to physical forces (which is what Aristotle had in mind).
Buridan’s ass keeps coming to mind even though it’s almost an inverse analogy to what’s going on today. In Buridan’s parable the donkey is asked to choose between two desirable, even life-saving, options. For the analogy to get closer to the mark to today’s predicament, we would have to be the hay forced to choose between two competing hungry asses.
In other words we have managed to flip Buridan’s paradox on its head. We are being asked to pick our poison. We are being asked if we’d prefer to be mauled by a lion or a tiger. We are being asked what kind of bread our mandatory crap sandwiches shall be served on.
It’s a no-win scenario and Captain Kirk is nowhere on the horizon to rig the Kobayashi Maru.
Goldberg is fascinated (as am I) by the fact that Donald Trump's supporters can't get their heads around the reasons why anybody would think that an amoral, globally ignorant, psychologically immature and unstable authoritarian who doesn't so much hold the Bill of Rights in contempt as have absolutely no idea that it exists, with a protectionist economic policy that would decimate our economy and an isolationist foreign policy that would make the world an exponentially more dangerous place and seriously endanger our national security on the other, and has all the tact of an MIRVed ICBM to boot, might give pause to anybody who is also horrified at the prospect of Hillary Rodham Clinton being president.
They don't seem to understand that while the Leftist crazies and gender-benders who seem to form the core of Hillary's constituency are scary, the assorted Klansmen and neo-Nazis and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists who form the core of Trump's are just as scary. At least.
They seem so consumed by their not-unreasonable disdain for the deleter of emails and bumbler of Benghazi that they are unable to consider that juvenile, babbling subscribers to nutty conspiracy theories advancing predictably disastrous policies based on general ignorance who cheerfully pander to racists and fascists aren't too cool either.
Which worries me even more. About the people who can't see that both candidates are asses and that both represent a level of evil that makes questions about which is the greater evil absurd.