Jon Stewart interview with Dick Armey

August 19, 2010

I’m a fan of the Daily Show, more so when Jon Stewart interviews political figures rather than entertainers.  I like it even more when he goes on other shows and debates with other media personalities.  Sadly, Jon doesn’t normally win these debates although he definitely holds his own.  He’s usually very good at going punch for punch but he usually fails to deliver the knockout punch.  Fortunately, in his interview with Dick Armey on Tuesday (the full thing is available at www.thedailyshow.com) he reversed this trend and delivered a resounding blow, which is good because Dick Armey really pissed me off at one point when he failed to cite the source of one of his great ideas regarding the appropriate size and role of government.  Specifically, he was starting to explain to Jon that, ‘if you and I were on a deserted island…’, which was the set up to an explanation about how governments develop and what their original intentions were and how Obama has usurped that role.  Great idea, except for one thing:  It’s not his!  Armey was paraphrasing Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ and didn’t even have the good graces to quote the source material!  Here’s what it says in Common Sense:

“In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but ONE man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.

This necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessing of which, would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness, will point out the necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.”

Suffice to say, it goes on to explain how as more people are added to the society government will ultimatly take the form of representative government and that tyrannical government is bad, which in modern Tea Party terms translates to Obama is a tyrant who has corrupted the original intentions of the Founding Fathers and nature.  The point here is this:  If you’re going to invoke the Founding Fathers, at least have the courtesy to quote the material!


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