Choosing between the Disastrous and the Unpalatable

“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” John Kenneth Galbraith

Now that I’ve lowered my expectations, General Conference is moderately less discouraging … okay, I’m probably exagerating. It’s a little tiny bit less discouraging. That’s not exactly a glowing account of the day, but I’ll take what I can get.

I’ve been reminded again and again today of my favorite quotations from the economist John Kenneth Galbraith. I went back and looked up some notes for a talk I gave earlier in the year about General Conference. Here is what I said:

“Each cycle, as I prepare for General Conference and as I engage in the process of compromise, I call to mind a quotation from John Kenneth Galbraith found in a letter he wrote to John F Kennedy as he began his presidency. “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” (See Galbraith’sAmbassador’s Journal, 1969)

“And, sometimes, the very compromise that you think is unpalatable and the lesser of two evils, turns out to have been the best outcome. As the Rolling Stones put it. “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you might just find you get what you need.”

I’m not totally convinced that this is true, but I will own that it is possible anyway. You can’t quite call that optimism, but I’ll take what I can get.

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