Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ron Paul on Michelle Bachmann's Headaches

Ron Paul discussed the Michele Bachmann headache story (via Politico):
“Well, sometimes, I think people think they have to know more than they need to know,” said Paul, referring to a question about whether TheDC’s reporting on Bachmann’s migraines was a fair concern. “But you should need to know what a president, you know, is capable of doing,” explained Paul.
Paul’s comments came during a Wednesday morning radio interview with Bryan Nehman, co-host of WMAL’s “The Morning Majority Show” in Washington, D.C....
Rep. Paul, a medical doctor, explained that dealing with the painful headaches can be difficult for anyone. “I have taken care of a lot of patients with migraines, and it is pretty rough. I mean, it is a tough problem … so I have great empathy and sympathy for her if she is suffering from that,” said Paul.
“But I think it’s probably legitimate to know, and I don’t think that disqualifies somebody from running for office,” concluded Paul. “I would say [the] information is reasonable to know about.”


  1. Question for Dr. Paul: by what standard of "reasonability" can we and should we make decisions like this in the future regarding public figures?

    Can we get that standard defined objectively, please?

  2. @Taylor

    Dr. Paul implicitly states the only just criterion for bringing up someone's medical history.

    If it will seriously impact their performance of their job.

    No need to demand medical records for that.

    Figure out how often she has to take off, for how long, and if in the past, her illness has dislocated her performance in a serious way.

    She could be such a super performer that she makes up for her off-days by doing much more when she's well...

    But if her illness strikes unpredictably, then it is certainly a negative.

    Personally, if this is all true, I think even on her own account, she is probably better suited to be on a team than on her own.

    (Hint, Hint, Michele)

  3. Lila Rajiva,

    This is my point. What is the marginal difference between a "serious impact" to the "performance" of being president, versus a "non-serious impact"?

    If you are having trouble understanding my point, think about it like this: by what logic or reason does the president (or anyone else) decide he can legitimately take a day off and go golfing?

    Being president of the US is not a legitimate, voluntary job. It's a job that results from coercion of people like you and me. After stealing from us and then shackling us with rules and regulations it is his job to enforce, by what standard does the president dictate to us how much or how little we get to know about him, his medical conditions and how likely he is able to "perform" in his self-granted role?

  4. @Conant

    You are assuming your libertarian position on this is the only one. But it isn't.

    Most people would not see the President's role as "self-granted".

    Part of political thinking is to take into account the fact that our conclusions and perceptions actually co-exist with others and cannot eradicate theirs out of sheer force of will..or even of logic (which is sometimes only an expression of will, to be rather obscure)...

    So, your objections to the existence of a Presidency, while cogent, theoretically, are beside the point, practically.

    For the body politic, the president exists and will exist, at least for another few years.

    Which president will it be, then, becomes the next practical question.

    And why.

    At that point, various criteria, more or less plausible, enter the argument.

    A president who is terminally lazy and spent all his days on vacation would, from a libertarian point of view, be a fairly decent president, because if he did not "do" anything, he likely did less harm that way.

    One less thinker to muck up the works, so to speak.

    But that is only a clever theoretical position.

    In actual practice, there will enough career bureaucrats and other players to infinitely fill the absence of our lazy president.

    Thus, the "less is more" view of libertarian Presidency might NOT in practice actually be an improvement.

    For instance, an ACTIVE and EFFECTIVE Ron Paul might actually move the country toward a more libertarian position than an ABSENT or INEFFECTIVE non-lib president.

    So much for your theoretical objection.

    Now, to the argument about "impact".

    If Ms Bachmann, as a neoconservative, were incapacitated, from a libertarian perspective and assuming that a libertarian president (overlook the oxymoron) weren't available, her presidency would at first sight be preferable, because of the libertarian preference for non-intervention and "do no harm".

    But that kind of reasoning works only if we assume a linear reaction from all other parties..and that is unavailable in the real world.

    If Ms. Bachmann were REALLY unable to do her job for a number of days a week/month and was REALLY perceived as ill, it would certainly enable, more powerful or capable political actors, capable of MORE interventionist policies to supplant her effectively (my earlier point).

    How is this different from going golfing for a few days?

    The golfing president is in command of his faculties and can be persuaded in a crisis not to golf.

    The sick president is not in command of his faculties.

  5. Lila Rajiva,

    Maybe I didn't explain myself well but you didn't seem to understand my point.

    I am not looking at it from "a libertarian perspective" nor am I trying to "force" my libertarian will on everyone else's viewpoint. The question I am asking is an attempt to "rationalize" that which I, personally, find to be irrational, thus why the situation is so confusing.

    Let me try again.

    In the market for, say, ham sandwiches, entrepreneurs can use the price mechanism and the profit and loss signals it creates to determine an answer to the question "How many ham sandwiches should we make?" Everyone is happy.

    In the government controlled market for ham sandwiches, there is no satisfactory answer to the question, "How many ham sandwiches should we make?" The government has no way to objectively determine the correct number of ham sandwiches. The correct number of ham sandwiches to make is dependent upon a piece of information which is completely absent from this scenario: consumer demand (via the price mechanism).

    On to the public's "right to know" about the health condition and capabilities of elected officials, then:

    I think knowing when Michelle Bachmann, or any other female politician, is on her menstrual cycle, is an important piece of information for me to judge her capabilities as a decision maker within the public apparatus. I demand to know this information.

    What standard of reason does Michelle Bachmann offer to me to deny my request of this information?

    If Michelle Bachmann were the CEO of a private company and I were a shareholder or a customer, I could just stop using that company if Bachmann won't satisfy my curiosities.

    But Michelle Bachmann as president is in a position of monopoly with regards to me, the voter. I have no way out of this that is peaceful and voluntary. So, by what non-arbitrary standard of reason does Bachmann fairly withhold this information from me?

    If you answer, "You don't need to know that to understand her capabilities as a decision-maker" I say, "That's YOUR opinion! I think I do." Were this a market, that'd be fine. We could share our opinions and go our separate ways. But this isn't a market. Someone's opinion has to rule out. Why should it be yours (or anyone else's)?

    please note, I agree that is gross and I don't personally care to know that, I am trying to make a point here

  6. OK.

    You are saying that absent a price mechanism there is no standard by which my rational justification for my set of criteria on what information can be withdheld from the public trumps your justification for your set.


    Outside a market transaction, rights still obtain, don't they? In other words, without an explicit violation of someone else's rights, I can pretty much claim all my rights without a need to justify them to you.

    So the onus is actually on you to tell Mrs. B why her right to her own privacy, which inheres in her self ownership, should be limited by anyone.

    By what right, in other words, do you obtain information that would come under the heading of someone's property.

    You have no inherent right to certain information that inheres in my ownership of myself.

    Absent the pricing mechanism, thus there is still a trade off between rights, expressed through such things as tradition, history, consensus, logical nexus, evidence.

    Would you argue that, absent a pricing mechanism, there would be no way to argue whether a war were just or unjust?

    So too it should be possible to argue with some common ground whether there was an invasion of privacy of a public officer (especially, when she isn't president yet).

    However, I'll grant there is a tendancy innate in the mechanism of this justification to be ever expansive...which is why I would argue politics itself should be limited to the teeniest possible space.

    Presidential campaigns, in my view, aren't the teeniest possible space.

    Personally, I am waiting for one sincere politician to symboically pay reparations to people injured by the war machine or expropriated by the empire.

    That, in my opinion, would be the truest and most sincere libertarian stand.

  7. Lila Rajiva,

    I am saying that there is no objective standard by which you can judge that government is operating justly or not, because government is not a just institution.

    People argue over whether the military should spend money on missiles or tanks.

    People argue over whether the government should spend money on food stamps or mortgage relief.

    People argue over whether we need to know that Michelle Bachmann has headaches or not for her to be an "effective" president.

    How can you objectively declare one party right or wrong in this? What is the standard by which you determine:

    --the right way to arm the military?
    --the right way to assist the needy?
    --the right way to judge a person's "presidentially"

    I don't know if this discussion will yield much of an answer for me, though I respect your effort, because we seem to differ on the legitimacy of a few of the topics concerned.

    And you often make reference to relativistic historical data as if that provides an answer when all it provides is pictures of the past. All kinds of loopy things have happened, and all kinds of non-loopy things have happened... the fact that they have happened and we can observe their happening doesn't tell us anything about whether they're loopy or not. So "tradition, history, consensus", etc., don't offer me any compelling considerations for this topic.

  8. "So "tradition, history, consensus", etc., don't offer me any compelling considerations for this topic."

    Yes. That is a problem in your thinking for me.