Monday, October 19, 2009

The Korean supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and was concerned that Barack Obama resembled the late former Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun -- in good parts and in bad parts, which resulted in a poor presidency. Well, the latest assault on Fox News by the White House looks eerily like Roh's attack on conservative media, which ended up frittering away Roh's precious political capital. The Korean worries that this cannot end well.

-EDIT 10/20/09 12:04 a.m.- One more thought: the Korean had previously thought that all the crazy media fights in Korean politics showed that Korean politics need to grow further. But now, it looks like an argument can be made that Korean politics is actually more advanced than American politics, since the problems of American politics is appearing to follow the problems of Korean politics a few years ago. How much longer until we see Fight Night in Congress? ("You lie!" sure seems like a great prelude to that.)

42 comments:

  1. I watch Fox News from time to time and I am appalled at the blatant partisanship and talking points memo-reading they do on that station. They are NOT a legitimate news organization, even though they profess to be one.

    So what should the target of Fox's partisanship do to counter that? The people in the article you linked to simple called a spade a spade. Quite different from what Roh tried to do, methinks.

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  2. I should add that I'm more surprised when someone at Fox diverges from the talking points than when they blatantly follow it.

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  3. Are you actually going to make that argument? Would you really be naive enough to put up the dozens and dozens of fist-fights, blockades, scrums, occupations, lockouts, hair-pulling and biting fiascos, scream-fests, and shout-downs up against one guy yelling "you lie"?

    Really? Are you that desperate to draw parallels to the primitive sandbox that is Korean politics that you'll cite a single shout and some talking heads discussing partisan media on talk shows as equivalent?

    Tell you what...the day after there is a single large scale physical confrontation in the US Congress, in which dozens and dozens of lawmakers are throwing shoes at each other, physically blocking a podium, beating down doors with fire extinguishers, biting each other, pulling hair, and being carried out flat on their backs by security...on that day, you can say that "an argument might be made...."

    And on the day that the 100th physical confrontation occurs...then you can say that a DECENT argument can be made.

    Leave the absurd equivalencies to those that don't know any better.

    You do.

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  4. Skeptico, in all fairness he described the "You lie!" comment as a "great prelude." He's not saying it's already same-same.

    Frankly, I think Fox News and the like (plus their approximate counterparts on the left) are making for a very uncivil society right now. People of differing political viewpoints are now seen as evil or not deserving rights or what-not. It's very disturbing. Much worse than before, methinks.

    Anyway, I think that the 1998 impeachment of Clinton for lying about getting a blowjob is an example of the infectiousness of immature politics in the other direction: I wonder if Roh Moohyun himself would have been impeached had the Clinton situation not occurred.

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  5. Take a chill pill, skeptico. I think the Korean makes an excellent, very thoughtful point. It's too bad that your American arrogance prohibits you from seeing that there might be parallels between another country and your own. The horror!

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  6. Dan wrote:
    It's too bad that your American arrogance prohibits you from seeing that there might be parallels between another country and your own.

    Really, did you have to go there? There were three commenters ahead of you, one of which made the point you agree with (The Korean), another of whom supported it (me), and one who thought it was way of the mark (Skeptico).

    Given that all three of us are American, why would you assume that "American arrogance" prevents one from seeing the point that Americans were making and agreeing with in the first place?

    Not to beat up on you or anything.

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  7. That's pretty funny. America isn't and probably won't ever be at the point where lawmakers fight with each other inside Congress, but kushibo is right in saying that many media outlets are making for an "uncivil society" in America. It's simply too adversarial. Maybe the stakes are lower in Canada, but we don't have anyone talking the way conservatives talk about liberals and vice versa.

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  8. In all fairness, he said that NOW, an argument can be made that the Korean political system IS actually more advanced than the US system. NOW and IS are pretty clearly present, not future, and the two examples he cited do absolutely nothing to support that assertion.

    To cite Joe Wilson's two-second outburst as an indicator of a potential future on par with the full-out brawls and shoving matches so common in Korea is simply ridiculous. There is no evidence at all to indicate that there are any (much less hundreds of) US politicians willing to go to such childish extremes as there are in Korea, nor would anyone with any knowledge of public perception in the US actually believe that such behavior would be tolerated by voters as the norm, as it is in Korea.

    The other citation was the war of words with Fox News, which is also indicative of absolutely nothing except yet another war of words that an administration has with the media. It happens all the time, in every administration. You can certainly argue that going after Fox is not smart strategically, as many have. But to then take that as some kind of example that the US political system has somehow devolved to the depths of immaturity that the Korean system exists in, is outrageous and should not be taken seriously by anyone with even scant knowledge of both systems.

    The Korean is making a mountain out of a molehill, and drawing lines and comparisons that do not hold up to scrutiny. In fact, the general American reaction to the Joe Wilson outburst is an excellent example of just how politicians themselves and most of the American public view even a low level of direct incivility. Wilson was widely criticized on both the left and the right, was censured by the House, and the only people that supported him were the far right, who would donate to Osama Bin Laden’s campaign if he called Obama a liar. And all that reaction was for a two-second yell, from afar! Based on that, can you imagine the reaction for politicians that started a brawl? Their political lives would be over, permanently.

    Can the same be said of Korean politicians? Not a chance. Korean politicians are more than willing to bite someone to make their point, and the Korean public generally tolerate physical violence and using force for political objectives, evidenced by its continuing popularity as a tactic.

    And based on those two realities, you think that an argument can be made that Korean politics is more advanced? Seriously? You can honestly watch the videos and see Korean politicians rolling around on the floor and putting each other in headlocks and then even use the word “advanced” to describe that? The behavior of Korean politicians should be a national embarrassment.

    I have no problem with the first part of the statement regarding the relative wisdom of going after opposition media. But everything after “One other thought” is completely devoid of any reality at all. The “problems of American politics” are not following the problems of Korean politics in any way. The current media catfights in the US are as old as time, and are not indicative at all of anything but a continuation of what’s been going on for decades.

    How much longer until we see Fight Night in Congress?

    If your idea of Fight Night is a typical Korean-style donnybrook involving hundreds, then the answer is NEVER.

    Can you argue that the overall tone in American politics is getting increasingly nasty and uncivil? Yes.
    Can you argue that we might see a few more verbal outbursts a la Joe Wilson than we have in the past? Yes.
    Can you argue that the nastier tone puts the level of advancement of the US political system anywhere near the depths of the Korean system? No.
    Can you argue that the nastier tone will possibly lead to regular full-scale brawls and politics-by-hair-pulling as is the standard in Korea? HELL NO. Unless you’re fond of being laughed out of the room.

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  9. kush,

    So what should the target of Fox's partisanship do to counter that?

    The target can wage a proxy war instead of stooping to the level of Fox News. It is not as if the target -- one of the most popular president in recent memory -- lacks a good proxy or three to fight with.

    skeptico,

    Fair points, but please improve your tone. AAK! is for civil discussions only. Your belligerence invited an unnecessarily strong statement from Dan, which in turn invited kushibo to take this discussion further off topic.

    Having said that, the Korean's rejoinder is: as you noted, the Korean only said, "[A]n argument can be made." He did not say "The Korean would argue." The Korean is always clear on which argument is his, and which is not. All he did in this instance is outline a possible argument. Obviously you feel that the argument is not very strong, and made fine points along those lines. But the Korean indicated nothing about how he thought about that argument. You simply assumed and jumped to a conclusion, expressed in a rather rude manner.

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  10. Kushibo & Dan,

    I think Skeptico's criticism over the Korean's inapt (to put it charitably) analogy is justified, if perhaps intemperate.

    The Korean did say "it looks like an argument can be made that Korean politics is actually more advanced than American politics."

    Until I see Obama's White House actually enacting laws to limit the circulation of conservative newspapers, engineering politically motivated, punitive tax probes, and initiating preposterous libel actions simply to silence critics, etc. (which all happened during the DJ/Roh administrations), the analogy will remain inapt (and again, I strain to refrain from using a more vivid adjective).

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  11. The message I take away from The Korean is that American politics is devolving into a dangerous level that is not constructive. That's a good point.

    His concern that the admiration for American politics is shaking should be a sign that many others around the world likely feel the same. We should be calling our representatives back home and letting them know when they are out of line or when they lead by example.

    Whether it's better or worse than Korea, or whether fair parallels could be drawn with Korea, the resulting discussion is just rhetorical.

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  12. I understand the rhetorical device you employed and why (the ability to present an argument while maintaining deniability of support for it). The problem remains that the argument you suggested could be made, cannot in fact be reasonably made.

    Won Joon Choe is also of course correct in pointing out the difference in an administration criticizing certain aspects of the media (Obama) and actually taking concrete legislative and legal steps to punish/silence/limit them (Roh/DJ).

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  13. Choe BHSN,

    A fair point you made, but a cheap trick to bring DJ into the discussion.

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  14. Am I allowed to say "I strain to refrain from using a very very nasty word on you" every time I wanna curse somebody off here at AAK!?

    Heh heh heh, sorry Mr Choe, but this is just killing me.

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  15. The Korean,

    How does mentioning the various egregious instances of media intimidation/censorship under the DJ/Roh era constitute "a cheap trick"? On the contrary, it seems to me most directly on point in refuting your improper analogy conflating the Obama administration's media criticism and actual media intimidation/censorship by its Korean counterparts.

    To summarize the exchange: You opined that "it looks like an argument can be made that Korean politics is actually more advanced than American politics" on the basis of the recent White House criticism of a certain conservative media organization. I countered that this is an improper analogy, given that recent Korean administrations have employed the vast powers of the government to actually intimidate and censor opposition media and critics—most recently under DJ and Roh. I am sure you realize that there is a universe of difference between the two examples. Some would say that the difference between them indeed represents the very distinction between a genuinely free, open society and its counterfeit imitation.

    At the risk of being accused of derailing the thread—which seems to be one of your chief bete noirs—I must also confess that I empathize with Skeptico’s distaste for moral equivalence games to justify evil and traduce what I call "the best under the circumstances." This revolting phenomenon was especially rampant in the Western press' coverage of the former authoritarian governments of East Asia prior to the general democratization of the region, and perhaps the worst offender has been the former NYT columnist William Safire, who liked to equate Lee Kuan Yew with Hitler. To me, nothing is "cheaper" than this head-in-the-clouds dogmatism that morphs into relativism that refuses to see any shades of gray or refuses to sanction anything less than perfect. Or should I say nothing is more "costly," given that such an outlook translates into policies that have had devastating consequences in the real world by undermining legitimate, decent regimes and propping up their atrocious counterparts?

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  16. *I got cut off*

    Finally, let me be even bolder and present some unsolicited personal advice to someone younger and someone in whom I see great promise—as well as someone with whom I feel some kinship.

    First, I know you are an extremely busy man, trying to juggle a corporate law position and a very active Blog, among other things. (In fact, I have been precisely in your very shoes before!) Nonetheless, you must be more careful with words, because Skeptico is right to insist that you made an argument no knowledgeable/reasonable person would make. I imagine that either you were trying to be playful by resorting to a deliberate hyperbole or you simply could not incessantly re-check everything you wrote, given the time constraints (which is what you implied when I made a similar criticism in the past). Still, this is no excuse, because you are writing to a public audience, and you have already garnered a deserved reputation for being one of the brightest online commentators on Korean affairs. Please, take it from someone who has said a lot of stupid things in public, even in print!

    Second, if you have made an obvious mistake, it's better to simply swallow your pride and acknowledge the error, rather than resorting to ad hominem comments or rhetorical games like "I did not myself make the argument" (if the argument doesn't pass what they call the "laugh test" in 1L courses, why even mention it?). No intelligent person wants to maintain a dialogue with someone with pretensions of omniscience. In contrast, adopting a more fallible persona will ultimately help your Blog, because you do not want it simply be peopled with your sycophants. Moreover, it will help you in real-life as well. In this vein, I would recommend Ben Franklin's Autobiography or some of the better books on Lincoln’s rhetoric.

    I know I have been presumptuous and perhaps even hypocritical in my advice-giving, because I suffer from the same maladies I foisted upon you. But I do so with the understanding that the dangers of alcoholism is most vividly illustrated by the testimony of a recovering alcoholic! :)

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  17. JW,

    You missed me in my teens or in my college years, where I used to be, um, indiscriminate with words I employ :)

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  18. By the way, I am glad that you are back on schedule with more regular entries. There's much in the recent ones that are thought-provoking (esp. on Korean education), but I simply don't have the time for now!

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  19. WJC covered most of what needed to be said, but let me add another point that I think is relevant.

    Whether you realize it or not, one of the bigger reasons you and your blog are popular is your ability to straddle the line between the two cultures, and give reasoned, measured assessments of each. This balancing act is difficult to pull off, and few do it well. This post seemed to be far outside your usual standard, and I for one hope it’s not indicative of anything but a throwaway that you didn’t think through before putting it up.

    I don’t want to read too deeply into a single post either, but I’ve seen it before and I hope you’re not falling into the same trap: Don’t let your exposure to the expat blog/commenting world paint you into a corner you otherwise wouldn’t be in.

    There is a tendency among those that are first introduced to the often brutal and sometimes unfair criticisms that Korea/Koreans are on the receiving end of from the expat community in Korea, to then become reflexively defensive of any and all things Korean, regardless of merit. The flip side is a tendency to start searching for, finding faults and criticizing the West/America more often (also often regardless of merit) in an attempt to level the playing field and get a sort of payback for what is perceived as an onslaught of unfair criticisms of Korea.

    I’m not saying you’ve got the disease…but this post seems to be an early symptom.

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  20. I must admit that WJC has convinced me of his point-of-view. I stand by my first two comments about the trend toward nasty incivility that is going on in America as a result of political division, and I fear that it may have serious repercussions in the future.

    However, when I came to The Korean's defense, I was focusing only on one bit of his overall post and failed to see the problems with the rest of what he was saying.

    I also think that The Korean and his readers have both placed him in a position of responsibility where he does need to be careful with his words.

    In the future, Choose wisely.

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  21. Nothing new, unfortunately. American politics has been full of venom and crazy since for well over a century. Read "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" and ask yourself if things are really so different today.

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  22. What about Preston Brooks beating the living shit out of Charles Sumner? I'd say American politics is at least a century ahead of Korean politics on that account. ;)

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  23. I came here to talk about Preston Brooks and Sumner as well. But there is also a history of physical behavior in State Legislatures as well. Not to mention Burr-Hamilton or Sam Houston shooting another congressman.


    Get the excellent book, "The Fine Art of Political Wit" or the book Nathan mentions, and you will be suprised at what it reveals about the history of US politics.

    ButI do think the difference between stating an opinion of a network and using legal (and illegal) tactics to hamper a network is substantial enough to fatally wound that part of AAKs argument.

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  24. I'd like to apologize for my stupidity. Clearly the Preston Brooks/Sam Houston/Hamilton-Burr examples -- having occurred 200+ years ago -- and the latest full-on brawl in the Korean Parliament -- which occurred THREE MONTHS AGO -- are equally relevant in analyzing the CURRENT state of advancement of politics in both countries.

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  25. Skeptico said:

    "There is a tendency among those that are first introduced to the often brutal and sometimes unfair criticisms that Korea/Koreans are on the receiving end of from the expat community in Korea, to then become reflexively defensive of any and all things Korean, regardless of merit. The flip side is a tendency to start searching for, finding faults and criticizing the West/America more often (also often regardless of merit) in an attempt to level the playing field and get a sort of payback for what is perceived as an onslaught of unfair criticisms of Korea."

    Yes, you have isolated a very pervasive phenomenon among Korean apologists/Bloggers, and I hope the Korean does not traverse down this self-destructive, credibility-disintegrating road.

    I mentioned the obverse angle of the same "equivalence" game—that of Westerners damning anything Asian that does not perfectly measure up to Western liberal/democratic standards as "fascist" or "totalitarian" or worse—because I am used to speaking from an essentially Korean, rather than American, perspective. So I have tended to notice things like Safire equating Lee Kuan Yew with Hitler more so than a clueless Korean student conflating Roh Moo-hyun with Blagojevich (more on this later).

    In both cases, of course, there is an undiscriminating relativism that reveals an obvious lack of prudence or practical judgment.

    Your criticism also reminds me of a very recent conversation I had with a Korean student studying in the U.S. The subject of Roh Moo-hyun’s corruption came up, and the student reflexively and predictably intoned that American politics is "just as corrupt if not more so," and then he proceeded to name Blagojevich as his "proof." I then responded that 1) South Korea has had literally EVERY SINGLE president (or his sons) in the last three decades prosecuted for corruption, and 2) the sums involved, with the possible exception of Roh, were absolutely immense.

    In short: Yes, to be covetous is human, but the sheer pervasiveness and scale of the corruption problem between the U.S. and South Korea are not in any ways comparable; and such differences depend on the cultural and institutional scaffolding on which societies raise themselves.

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  26. Look what happens when the Korean has to work a little and not attend the blog. He won't have time until this weekend some time. Stay tuned, and stay classy.

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  27. And oh, Sumner's caning occurred before the American Civil War.

    But if you want to play that game, yes, the Korean was spot-on about his comment that American politics may indeed be more retrograde than its Korean counterpart.

    Heck, didn't we elect leaders on the basis of written, literary examinations as early as a thousand years ago, when "Americans" probably did so on the basis of who can mutilate themselves more without fainting? :)

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  28. Skeptico,

    In your eagerness to get irate, I think you missed the point I was trying to make - that Korea is currently in the same developmental period the US was back in the day. Perhaps I was unclear, but that was why I focused on history.

    Nothing unexpected in any of this, really, it just needs to be seen in context. The FOX issue, however, is I think in comparable modern context and thus the difference in degree is the critical thing in that case.

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  29. Choe BHSN,

    1. "cheap trick" because the Korean is well aware of your politics, and you had to lump together the last two progressive presidents while neglecting, e.g., 전두환 administration's egregious practice of pre-approving newspapers before they went to print -- which should have been a much better support for your argument. The Korean mentioned Roh in the post so that's a fair game, but bringing DJ in pushed your argument toward a wholesale denunciation of the progressive movements in Korea.

    2. Advice from an experienced person like yourself is always welcome, and the Korean is glad that you are willing to dispense them. But the Korean would disagree that he made an obvious error, as per infra. Further, if the Korean cannot rely on the readers to take him at what he writes and not jump to a conclusion that he did not make, what is the point of writing anything?

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  30. 3. if the argument doesn't pass what they call the "laugh test" in 1L courses, why even mention it?

    That appears to be the crux of your (and Skeptico's) point. Well then, the Korean will demonstrate how the argument that he outlined may pass the "laugh test".

    Let us start from Cass Sunstein's finding that speaking only with people who are like-minded on a certain topic refines and radicalizes that topic. For example, it has been found that a person who somewhat opposes death penalty becomes much more entrenched in that position after speaking with other people who oppose death penalty. (Cass R. Sunstein, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech, The Free Press, 1995, p. 119) Furthermore, because the advent of the Internet enables people to constantly be in touch with like-minded people in virtually any topic, the Internet age serves to emphasize partisan differences and thus fuels even more strident partisanship. Id.

    The Internet politics has several more implications, including the enlarged role of the media. It is true that the media has always been important in politics; yet in the age of Internet politics, the media is the primary feeder of the material that enters the self-contained echo chamber of partisanship. Seeing this phenomenon, those holding power have a greater-than-ever temptation to clamp down on the media.

    It cannot be disputed that the Internet age - at least to the extent where Internet played a prominent role in politics - arrived at Korea at least a decade earlier than it did at the U.S. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the two effects of the Internet politics explained supra appear in Korea several years previous to appearing in the U.S.

    A reasonable argument can be made that the U.S. is catching up to Korean politics right at this moment. Obama is the first American president whose ascendancy to power substantially depended upon the Internet -- five years after Roh Moo-Hyun did. Because their power depended upon the spread of information (recall that without the endless Youtube loop of the DNC speech, Obama would be nothing), both presidents would be particularly sensitive to the power of information in the age of Internet politics. The current White House's attempt to curb Fox News -- flying in the face of centuries of media-protection tradition that is the strongest in the world -- may not be equivalent to the full array of Roh's attempt to control the media. But it may just be the first step toward it.

    Now, recall what Roh's media policy caused in Korea -- more action that Roh took against the media, more strident the media opposition got, and more entrenched Roh's opposition became. It is reasonable to extrapolate Obama administration's action -- should it continue its trajectory -- would cause a similar reaction. Partisanship further entrenches, and incivility increases to the low seldom reached previously in American politics. In the 7th year of Obama presidency, Brooks-Sumner incidence replays.

    ---------------------------
    Now, the Korean will reiterate that he currently has no opinion on how likely this scenario is. You and Skeptico outlined arguments against this scenario, and those points are well taken. BUT this passes the laugh test.

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  31. The Korean,

    Thank you for your characteristically thoughtful response. I am flattered that you waited until you had some leisure over the weekend to compose a rebuttal, given that you could have easily dismissed my rather harsh (but I think fair) criticism as a typical online "drive-by." Moreover, I am also obviously aware that the critic's task is a rather easy one, because he needs to only discover a mere single unraveled thread—no matter how elaborately crafted the rest of the tapestry.

    Nonetheless, your rebuttal still fails to fully persuade.

    Let me begin with your first claim:

    "'Cheap trick' because the Korean is well aware of your politics, and you had to lump together the last two progressive presidents while neglecting, e.g., 전두환 administration's egregious practice of pre-approving newspapers before they went to print -- which should have been a much better support for your argument. The Korean mentioned Roh in the post so that's a fair game, but bringing DJ in pushed your argument toward a wholesale denunciation of the progressive movements in Korea."

    To begin with, you are emphatically not "well aware of [my] politics." Our dialogue on Korean politics—much less politics!—has hitherto been an extremely limited or cursory one. In fact, it has consisted of a few Blog comment exchanges in form and our divergent assessments of the political careers Kim/Roh and the nature of the Kwangju incident in content. That you seem to presume that I deliberately omitted Chun's indubitably "egregious" suppression of the media because of a purported ideological kinship of sorts with Chun says volumes about your lack of familiarity with my "politics."

    To wit: Had you been genuinely familiar with my "politics," you would have known that I am—as a champion of Aristotelian or Burkean or even Straussian prudence—generally skeptical of all universalizing ideologies and shun all Manichean blinders. Moreover, in particular and to the point, you would have known that I have been a indefatigable critic of Chun, and that I frequently employ him as a foil to Park to distinguish what I consider necessary/benevolent authoritarian regimes from their opposite perversions. Indeed, I don’t think you need to know me in person to vouch that I cannot be ideologically pigeon-holed in so facile a manner, and that I too, like Burckhardt, despise those terrible simplifiers who paint the world in black and white. For instance, even someone who has had a much longer acquaintanceship with my commentary on the Korean Blogs, e.g. someone like "Sonagi," would say that my outlook is a tad bit more multi-faceted than that of your stereo-typical conservative Korean 아저씨.

    Next, I plead not guilty to your charge that invoking DJ’s suppression of the media "pushed [my] argument toward a wholesale denunciation of the progressive movements in Korea." This is an ad hominem non sequitur. Taking your words at face value, I assume you thought this because you presumed that I am an inveterate opponent of "the progressive movements in Korea," and that I was merely looking for another "cheap" shot (your earlier adjective) to score against it and DJ. If so you presumed too much. Rather, I invoked DJ's example in addition to Roh for a transparently simple and obvious reason. As anyone familiar with the issue would attest, the suppression of the media during DJ's administration was far more pronounced than was the case during Roh's administration. That is all.

    --continued--

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  32. Finally, your assertion that I would have "better support[ed]" my argument by referring to Chun’s anti-media transgressions is strange, to say the least. In fact, it would have considerably weakened my argument with an irrelevant anachronism. Chun stepped down from the presidency more than twenty-years ago, a generation past! Perhaps even more pertinent, his regime was a military dictatorship to boot. So how does anything about his era illuminate when engaging in a cross-country comparison of contemporary American and Korean democratic practices? In fact, in spirit this seems to be the same type of error as pointing to Sumner's caning to make the argument that American politics can get just as violent as its Korean counterpart.

    Heck, perhaps I should have better supported my argument by referring to 李芳遠, who—shall we say?—acted robustly toward dissent in ways that DJ or Chun could only dream of?

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  34. The Korean,

    I posted another long rebuttal to your second and third points, but I deleted it after re-reading the entire thread in conjunction with your most recent responses.

    Skeptico and I objected to your claim that "it looks like an argument can be made that Korean politics is actually more advanced than American politics, since the problems of American politics is appearing to follow the problems of Korean politics a few years ago."

    Upon re-reading, however, the context appears to indicate that you meant "more advanced" in an ironic sense--i.e., more "advanced" in terms of an illness or degeneration. It certainly does not seem in retrospect that you meant "more advanced" as "better" or "superior."

    If that is indeed the case, then Skeptico and my charge that you were trying to play the equivalence game was incorrect--at least in regard to this part of your comparison between Korea and the U.S. (I suspect much of Skeptico's ire was also provoked by the belief that you had implied that South Korean politics is more civil than its American counterpart.)

    Nonetheless, your initial responses did not exactly make this point clear. Further, the scenario that you sketch imagining that American politics would degenerate to the point where congressmen are having regular brawls in the U.S. Capitol remains highly implausible.

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  35. “It cannot be disputed that the Internet age - at least to the extent where Internet played a prominent role in politics - arrived at Korea at least a decade earlier than it did at the U.S.”

    Really? It cannot even be disputed? If that’s the case, then I would like to hear you present evidence that the internet played a prominent role in politics in Korea at minimum before January 17, 1988. Yes, I said 1988. You see that would be a decade before January 17, 1998. Does that date ring any bells with regard to the US political scene? Because the Internet Age as you defined it, can very easily be traced to that exact date in US politics.

    In case that date doesn’t ring a bell, let me refresh your memory: Blue dress, semen stain, overweight White House intern. Monica Lewinsky. Matt Drudge and his Drudge Report website played a pretty goddamn prominent role in US politics by breaking a story on the internet that Newsweek sat on and refused to publish. The consequences and political impact are well documented. It destroyed the reputation and nearly the presidency of Bill Clinton. It led to his impeachment and basically two years of negative press coverage at a time when Clinton was one of the more popular and well-liked presidents in history. Not only that, but it can very easily be argued that the taint of that scandal destroyed the excellent prospects of Al Gore’s candidacy in the 2000 election, and was directly responsible for putting George W. Bush in office. Prominent enough for you?

    There are plenty of other developments that can be attributed to that moment and the next couple years from 1998-2000, which was the period in which the internet was really surging in use and popularity in all aspects of society in America, including politics. Among those developments were the tremendous growth in political news websites and political blogs looking to gain a foothold after Drudge opened the doors and gave internet media instant credibility, mainstream media and newspapers creating their own websites en masse to supplement tv/print, large-scale political fund-raising done on the internet (for which John McCain’s 2000 campaign is widely seen as the first to utilize that method effectively), political parties using websites to recruit campaign volunteers, and the 2000 election is generally seen as the first in which a large number of people were getting political news and information about candidates online, including video clips and transcripts of debates.

    All of that was 8-10 years before Obama, and at least a few years BEFORE Roh. So my question is: Were you in a coma between 1998-2000, or are you in fact going to show me compelling evidence that the Internet played a prominent role in politics in Korea in 1988, so as to support your assertion that “it cannot be disputed that the Internet Age arrived in Korea at least a decade earlier than it did in the US?”

    Honestly, the more I read from you on this topic, the further your reputation sinks. It’s not just that you’ve been wrong (which can be forgiven), it’s that you’ve been embarrassingly wrong, and wrong to such a degree that it makes me question whether your opinion on politics is even worth consideration at all. Making assertions that are drastically inaccurate and easily disproven, while simultaneously claiming those assertions are indisputable, should really be left to the North Koreans.

    ReplyDelete
  36. The current White House's attempt to curb Fox News -- flying in the face of centuries of media-protection tradition that is the strongest in the world -- may not be equivalent to the full array of Roh's attempt to control the media. But it may just be the first step toward it.

    Yes of course, I must have overlooked the part where Obama revoked the broadcast license of Fox News. THAT would be an attempt to curb them. The Obama administration has done absolutely nothing of the sort, and nothing that even approaches “curb” territory. To the contrary, the extent of their meager effort thus far has been to play favorites to friendly media with interview access (historically common), skip over the Fox correspondent at press conferences on a few occasions (also historically common), and trotting out a few administration talking heads to take potshots at a highly critical media outlet (surprise surprise, also historically common). There is absolutely nothing they’ve done up to this point that is out of the ordinary in a historical context, or that flies in the face of centuries of the tradition of media protection. Just because Fox News attracts viewers by playing the victim and implying that they’re being censored/silenced, does not make it true or relevant.

    What the Obama admin is trying to do is define their enemy in the court of public opinion as something far from the fair and balanced honest broker that they proclaim to be, given the fact that Fox News is unashamed in their consistent and aggressive attempts to define their enemy (the Obama administration) as a failure and a threat to the fundamental values of America. There is a huge gap between putting a viewpoint out there which is critical of the consistently partisan nature of Fox News, and actually taking steps to curb the media freedom and rights of Fox News. Thus far there has been plenty of the former and absolutely none of the latter. If you can’t acknowledge that fact, you don’t belong in the discussion.

    The White House knows where that gap exists, and so they know they can make subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) jabs and snubs of Fox News, without taking any steps that would functionally impose on the freedom of the press values that they know are important and valued by the public. They know that any step that actually crossed that line would be far more damaging to their public perception than any benefit they may gain from it, and that’s why you’ll never see them taking that next step.

    The fact that you believe their actions thus far “just may be the first step” toward more drastic action either implies a lack of knowledge of the historical norm in this arena, or an unfounded skepticism of the ability of the Obama administration to use their power in a restrained manner. Given the history of Korean politics and the consistent inability to restrain their own power, I lean toward the second. Either way, there will be no trajectory. There will be a flat line of admin talking heads criticizing Fox News as partisan, and Fox News responding by crying about censorship where none exists, followed by faux outrage from their easily manipulated viewer base. I can say this confidently because the flat line benefits both parties, and there is no incentive for either side to go any further.

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  37. It is reasonable to extrapolate Obama administration's action..

    Actions that you overstated and misinterpreted...

    should it continue its trajectory

    ..despite the fact that there currently is no trajectory and that there are absolutely no incentives and numerous disincentives in following a trajectory...

    Partisanship further entrenches, and incivility increases to the low seldom reached previously in American politics.

    ...which is an unlikely consequence of a virtually impossible scenario...

    In the 7th year of Obama presidency, Brooks-Sumner incidence replays.

    ..and the odds of a single physical confrontation in national American politics remains extremely unlikely (although I won't say absolutely impossible, as there's always the possibility that some random dipshit shoves another random dipshit)...

    ...and as I mentioned previously, it would take literally dozens and dozens of full-scale brawls and mass destruction of property in the US Congress to even enter the same ballpark of the depravity that regularly occurs in Korea.

    Does it not make you just a little ashamed to be even contemplating the equivalence when the odds of a single mass brawl (not referring to a random one-on-one incident) in the US are probably 10 billion to 1, and the odds of US politics devolving to the ridiculous level of physical confrontation seen so regularly in Korean politics is roughly the same as both winning the lottery and being struck by lightning every week for the rest of your life?

    Rather than tying yourself in knots looking for justifications, using rhetorical sleight of hand, and dreaming up the most unlikely of scenarios which lead to even more unlikely consequences leading to virtually impossible conclusions...wouldn't you just be better off saying that your initial comment was ill-considered and flat-out wrong?

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  38. LOL.. Skeptico...

    where is your blog?

    I wanna read it!

    As I do with AAK, I might not always agree with you, but I like to see the writing...

    I got mine.. morning calm

    now show me yours.. ;-)

    whoa.. the captchas here are weird..
    "benation"

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  39. ah..

    I should say that everything I said about Mr. Skeptic... also applies to Won Joon Choe...
    ;-)

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  40. The Korean,

    As a litigator, I can tell you this much about your post (and subsequent responses):

    Your proposed scenario does not even come close to passing the laugh test. For the sake of your law career, I sure hope you are a corporate attorney and not a litigator.

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  41. Skeptico,

    The Korean did not fully understand your (and WJC's) objection, and then WJC cleared up the misunderstanding:

    Skeptico and I objected to your claim that "it looks like an argument can be made that Korean politics is actually more advanced than American politics, since the problems of American politics is appearing to follow the problems of Korean politics a few years ago."

    Upon re-reading, however, the context appears to indicate that you meant "more advanced" in an ironic sense--i.e., more "advanced" in terms of an illness or degeneration. It certainly does not seem in retrospect that you meant "more advanced" as "better" or "superior."

    If that is indeed the case, then Skeptico and my charge that you were trying to play the equivalence game was incorrect--at least in regard to this part of your comparison between Korea and the U.S. (I suspect much of Skeptico's ire was also provoked by the belief that you had implied that South Korean politics is more civil than its American counterpart.)


    The Korean would dispute that the sense in which he used the word "advanced" was ironic -- there is nothing ironic about using the dictionary definition of a word. But it is true that the Korean was thinking about one thing, and you/WJC were thinking about another.

    So that there are no more misunderstanding, here are the main points:

    - The Korean was not claiming that Obama administration's action toward Fox News was morally equivalent to Roh administration's action toward Korea's conservative media. The Korean would agree that such claim is clearly wrong, and indeed does not pass the laugh test.

    - Rather, the correct reading of the argument that the Korean outlined is that Korea's political problems presages America's political problems. There is no argument about any superiority or inferiority -- only that about something being temporally earlier or later.

    - FOR THE LAST TIME, the Korean is not even making the argument that Korea's political problems presages America's political problems. He is only saying that such an argument is possible, and he described how. Even to this moment, in all sincerity, the Korean is not committed to this argument one way or the other.

    - You can refute that argument all you want -- the Korean will readiy recognize that you have done a fair job of it. But stop acting like the Korean is endorsing that argument one way or the other. You are clearly smart enough to know that it is possible to draw up an idea without feeling strongly either way about it. That is exactly what I am doing here, at my own motherfucking blog. Where else should I draw up concepts and ideas?

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  42. Emeritus,

    ATL reference? That's cute.

    ReplyDelete

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