[O]ne does not go about identifying the weaknesses of what another person says in order to prove that one is always right, but one seeks instead as far as possible to strengthen the other’s viewpoint so that what the other person has to say becomes illuminating. Such an attitude seems essential to me for any understanding at all to come about. This is nothing more than an observation. It has nothing to do with an ‘appeal’ and nothing at all to do with ethics. Even immoral beings try to understand one another. Hans Georg Gadamer
As I was driving to the airport on Thursday night I listened to this exquisitely ghastly specimen of the emptiness of modern political life. Patricia Karvelas is interviewing Assistant Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham. It’s a contest not a conversation – which is fairly par for the course.
But it’s an unusual kind of contest. Because Karvelas sees it as her role to disrupt the Assistant Minister in whatever way she can. Constant interruptions are par for the course. She begins by asking him a question which, according to the rules of political combat the Minister can’t answer straightforwardly. In announcing some help for manufacturing industry in Geelong and elsewhere ”Is the coalition just trying to sandbag” seats where it’s become now “desperately vulnerable”.
So here’s a situation where the Government spokesman has come on to talk about how good his policy is. You’d expect a hostile interview to be one in which the spokesperson’s case that it’s a good policy might be challenged. But instead the interviewer takes the interview in directions that the spokesman, as a spokesman, is unable to go in any bona fide way without being seen by all and sundry (including the media) as doing his job badly. Continue reading