This is not the only subject on my mind at the moment (eg, the Redskins' unimpressive victory over the Rams just now, Barack Obama's more impressive TV fandango this morning, the ever-interesting Chinese tire tariff question, etc) but it's the one with the biggest backlog of worthwhile incoming material. From reader BJ in Florida:
"Three thoughts on your "slippery slope" dialogue:
"1) As your reader Webster Marquez hinted, the frequency of a slippery slope argument actually bearing out seems to be quite rare. In fact, if a scientist or statistician was looking at this question, it seems to me that they would be comparing the number of times that a "slippery slope" argument did NOT bear out, versus the number of times that one actually DID bear out. When looked at this way, history is seemingly littered with thousands of failed "slippery slope" arguments, versus a precious few arguments that may have been considered true.
"2) One good, general recurring slippery slope argument may be the drawing of colonial boundaries that ignored the indigenous geography of ethnicity, language, culture, religion, etc. Once formalized, the results appear to inevitably be tragic whether it's Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Nigeria, etc.
"3) I'm almost ashamed of myself for suggesting the following, but not ashamed enough...If there was ever a valid "slippery slope" in politics (albeit not policy-related), it surely must be (literally and figuratively) the initiation of an extramarital sexual relationship. Once that "little step" is taken, the results are almost universally predictable:
"A. Affair is initiated
"B. Affair peaks
"C1. Politician is revealed by spouse, law enforcement, media, or
"C2. Politician becomes fearful and ends relationship, and jilted lover reveals relationship
"D. Politician does a scripted dance of public remorse (multi-step)
"E. Politician calculates chances for continued political viability
"F. If determined politically viable, politician unabashedly does not miss a beat for re-election (e.g., David Vitter)
"G. If determined politically unviable, politican engages in either:
"G1. Low-visibility public service/advocacy to rehabilitate image and lay groundwork for possible public office in the future (e.g., Eliot Spitzer), or
"G2. Becomes a lobbyist (e.g., Bob Livingston).
"H. In retrospect, the politician's commitment to "family values" is examined.
"Exceptions do exist, of course. Some affairs simply never come to light, at least not in the politican's lifetime. Some politicians actually marry their paramour (see Gingrich, Newt). Some are essentially term-limited (Bill Clinton). But it does seem that once on that slippery slope, the ultimate results are predictable to a high degree.