Monday, February 15, 2021

Where Am "I"?

This post has no political content whatsoever. It is a random, rather inane question I was pondering last night.

When I think of where "I", am, spatially speaking, the answer is "my brain". That is the seat of my consciousness, it is the physical location I identify as being occupied by the core of my being. When I think, the spot where I feel like the thoughts come from is my head. Which makes sense, since my brain is where I do all my thinking.

But it also so happens that my brain is right behind my eyes. If we imagine our eyes as the holes in our body that we peer through to see the world, it makes sense that we'd conceptualize ourselves as existing right behind them. So maybe that's why that particular spot is the one we associate as being where "we" are.

So here's the question: If our eyes were in our chest, would we still view ourselves as centered around our brain? Or would it move to our chest? Or flip it: if our eyes were still in our head, but our brain was in our chest, would we still identify our thoughts as coming from our head or from our chest? (Or perhaps there'd be a more fundamental divergence between where we feel our thoughts "exist" -- our chest -- versus where the broader core of the "I" is -- our head).

Again, no big moral to this question. Just a random thought that grabbed my attention last night in lieu of sleeping.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

What To Make of Haley's "Break" With Trump?

The JTA's headline says it all: "Nikki Haley broke with Trump. It could make her a Jewish GOP favorite in 2024."

Well, perhaps not all. "Broke" is a very friendly way of putting it; I might go with "lickspittle stops licking." But that's editorializing.

In any event, what do we make of this decision by Haley?

Let's start with the Jewish angle, since that's how JTA frames it. I do think that Haley is well-positioned to be the Jewish GOP favorite in 2024, since she's followed a similar trajectory as most GOP Jews with regard to Trump. Start by loudly disavowing him, shift to "well, but look at what he does for Israel," crest at treating him like their God. Now that we're falling off that peak, I suspect they'll settle back into the groove of "sure he wasn't perfect, but Israel!", and Haley, viewed as the human instantiation of Trump's Israel advocacy, is well positioned to take advantage of that. The incongruity of going from genuflecting at Trump's magnificence to "breaking" with him will be easily overlooked, since much of the Jewish GOP will be doing the same contortion.

But what about Haley's 2024 prospects more generally? Certainly, there's risk -- as the last few weeks have shown, the GOP is still very much Trump's party. Nonetheless, I think this is a savvy move. Simply put: Haley wants to be President in 2024. That won't happen if Trump is strong enough in the GOP to win the Republican nomination. So Haley might as well act as if he won't be -- if he is strong, her support for him will be moot, and if he's weak, she has the advantage of presenting a clean ("clean") break.

Moreover, Haley doesn't currently hold elected office, so she doesn't have to worry about a primary backlash or other ways of the Trumpist base directly humiliating her. And even if Trump does hold his position, he's perhaps surprisingly tolerant of welcoming former adversaries back into his orbit if they grovel hard enough (see Graham, Lindsey). Haley may be saying that "we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again," but I guarantee that if Trump remains the prime 2024 GOP power figure, Nikki Haley will absolutely be eager to do it all over again. And fortunately for her, that puts her in the same position as 95% of the GOP.

Well played, Haley. Well played.