Forget all the wrangling over fiscal cliffs and debt ceilings. The truly important political debate of the day involves Batman, Spiderman, and their relative merits as exemplars of classical liberal virtue. Writing for Commentary, Seth Mandel offers a response to political science professor Travis D. Smith, a Spiderman partisan.

[T]his discussion either ignores or underplays the single most important feature of the Batman canon, without which it cannot be properly understood: that Batman and his villains are human. This is not incidental to the storytelling of Gotham City’s travails. Other superhero stories may begin as modern political parables, but they immediately morph into something else entirely. X-Men, for example, may be an obvious retelling of the Civil Rights era, as Last noted, but it proceeds along classic comic lines: superhuman good guys fight superhuman bad guys. Batman is completely different in this respect. The stories follow the human paths on which they set out, offering far more value as a vehicle to telling our own story. On Batman’s lack of superhuman powers, in contrast to his favored Spider-Man (and just about every other superhero), Smith writes:

But when you consider the life he leads in and out of costume—the monetary and technological means at his disposal, his training in umpteen martial arts disciplines to the highest degree of proficiency, his mindboggling skills as The World’s Greatest Detective, plus his uncanny ability to disappear like a ninja and his apparent lack of a need to sleep—Bruce Wayne is so extraordinary as to be beyond emulation by any actual human being.

But this gets it exactly wrong. Bruce Wayne’s physical abilities come through training—years of intense focus and hard work. His wealth is acquired honestly. It may be difficult for a normal person to turn himself into the Batman, but it is impossible for such a person to turn himself into Spider-Man on his own.