With just over a baker’s dozen of months left before the 2012 presidential election, the debate among the Republicans vying for the job of Chief Executive is kicking into gear. Recently, one candidate made news for stating he would be open to sending American troops into another country. This tends to happen to presidential candidates in debates.
With candidates for the highest office in the United States talking about the “What Ifs?”, I thought it would be an appropriate time to dust off this ceditra entry from December 4, 2000, where my random process (no military intervention required) for finding subjects to write about landed me on this line from the Bible:
But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him a daughter.
On first reading, this quote, from 2 Samuel 12:3, reminds me of the sick stereotype of lonely farmers and the available, if not always willing, sheep. It’s not hard to take this view when you read about a lamb eating with the guy, drinking from his cup, laying in his bosom (and I didn’t even know guys had bosoms), and being treated like a daughter. At least this passage doesn’t say how much he loved that little lamb.
But there is a far more serious bent to this random selection.
The serious side to this passage arrives when the whole chapter is read. This selection shows the power of the analogy in getting a point across. In this chapter, the prophet Nathan is telling King David about the two men: one rich and one poor. The rich man has lots of sheep and the poor man is described in the selection above. When a traveller comes to the rich man, this wealthy gentleman takes the poor man’s lamb to serve as dinner for the traveller. Upon hearing this, David exclaims that the rich man should be put to death for his sin. This is where Nathan springs his trap because he informs the king that he is the rich man and that despite having lots of women (sheep) at his disposal, David chose Bathsheba (the poor man’s lamb) and had her husband, Uriah (the poor man) killed.
The king fell into the common trap of responding too quickly to a hypothetical question. A person who brings up such an imaginary scenario and asks for an opinion is usually playing an angle. The trap is to get the person to answer the hypothetical situation in one way and then to spring the real situation on the answerer and show how they contradict themselves.
Former President Bush (George the First), as I recall, never answered a reporter’s hypothetical or “What If…” questions. I don’t think President #41 was relying on this passage, but it’s still good advice.
Be wary how you answer imaginary situations because those hypothetical scenarios can quickly become real and your opinion is already known.
Back to 2011 and that is still good advice for a candidate for elected office. However, it also comes with an extra ingredient that was not around in 2000: YouTube. With this video sharing site, everything a candidate utters in answering a “What If…” question is recorded and saved for future reference.