A cynic might conclude that these scandals are of a piece. The IRS harassment, focused at an IRS office in the key swing state of Ohio, crippled Tea Party groups during the 2012 election cycle. The blame-the-video spin, meanwhile, obscured the administration's, and the State Department's, culpability in terms of poor security and inept intelligence, while protecting Obama's triumphalist Osama-bin-Laden-is-dead-and-al-Qaeda-is-on-the-ropes election-season line on the war on terror.Now, "cynic" is the word of choice for politicians who want to lure you away from healthy objectivity and skepticism. It was just a couple days ago that Obama did a graduation speech (at OSU), warning the young about "cynicism":
In Obama's account, sinister (but unnamed) "voices" have been busily corrupting the once-idealistic Generation Y with a siren song of "creeping cynicism" toward ambitious new federal crusades. They'll even "warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices."Back in January, covering the inauguration, I had occasion to say:
People observing the normal things that happen in politics don't deserve to be called "cynics." OED defines "cynic" as:The word "cynic" is used to taint what might be lucid, critical thinking, associating it with a twisted mind. Obama — and others in power — would like us to go soft and trusting, and they equate this pliable, complacent condition of mind with mental health. There's something very creepy about government portraying political beliefs in terms of mental health.
A person disposed to rail or find fault; now usually: One who shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasms; a sneering fault-finder.Oh, what the hell. I'll accept the label. With politicians, we should be cynics. By the way, "cynic" comes from the Greek for dog-like (which you can sort of see in the word currish, which echoes in churlish).
But would could go back to the Greek roots of the word "cynicism." The original cynics sought clarity:
1. The goal of life is Eudaimonia and mental clarity or lucidity (ἁτυφια) - freedom from τύφος (smoke) which signified ignorance, mindlessness, folly and conceit.So there's your question: What do you want — ἁτυφια or τύφος? Lucidity or smoke? Clarity or choom?
2. Eudaimonia is achieved by living in accord with Nature as understood by human reason.
3. τύφος [smoke!] is caused by false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions, unnatural desires and a vicious character.
3. Eudaimonia or human flourishing, depends on self-sufficiency (αὐτάρκεια), equanimity, arete, love of humanity, parrhesia and indifference to the vicissitudes of life (ἁδιαφορία).
4. One progresses towards flourishing and clarity through ascetic practices (ἄσκησις) which help one become free from influences – such as wealth, fame, or power – that have no value in Nature. Examples include Diogenes' practice of living in a tub and walking barefoot in winter.
6. A Cynic practices shamelessness or impudence (Αναιδεια) and defaces the Nomos of society; the laws, customs and social conventions which people take for granted....