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Mark Warner’s commencement

Gov. Mark Warner has posted the text of his commencement address at Wake Forest University. After some opening comedy (not bad, actually), he focuses first on his theme that America is special because everyone gets a second chance: “Being able to fail, pick yourself up, wipe off the dust, and get back into the game is what is uniquely special about our country.” I heard him use the same theme a couple of months ago in a speech, and there’s something about it that doesn’t work for me, perhaps its assumption that we’re all equally in the game.

Then he discusses the need for civil discourse:

Turn on the TV. Listen to the radio. Click on almost any blog. And, you’ll see what I’m talking about: personal and partisan attacks, complex issues reduced to easy-to-digest sound bites, and way too much cross-fire and not nearly enough cross talk.

My kneejerk response is, of course, that I don’t like seeing blogs being lumped in with the mainstream media. But that’s just me being a (knee)jerk since Gov. Warner’s point is:

If you remember nothing else of what I say to you today, remember this: No one-no one-in politics has a monopoly on virtue, on patriotism, or most importantly, on the truth.

I of course agree with this. It’s what makes me a liberal. But it’s precisely what a big chunk of the country doesn’t believe. So I’m glad to hear Warner say it. But if he says it in a political context, the next set of questions will be about where he draws the line: He’s not a pacifist, so whom is he willing to kill to defend the virtue and truth on which he has no monopoly? Anti-absolutism is admirable, but I’m pretty sure existentialism is not a winning platform in this country. (But jeez it would be fun to hear it discussed seriously.)

Anyway, I liked the commencement address. And I don’t envy anyone the task of writing one. [Tags: ]

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