With the continuing saturation coverage of abuse allegations at Abu Ghraib prison, and the truly sickening whiny breast-beating going on, some of us may have lost sight of the fact that we didn’t exactly have the Yale Key Club in there guarding the prisoners—nor should we have. Imagine! Nasty things happening in a war. Just another reminder that we are decades removed from an in-your-face Douglas MacArthur not apologizing for the soldiers’ use of brothels in Korea.
Am I the only person REALLY tired of every world leader getting in touch with his feminine side? Maybe not, since we seem to have an insatiable appetite for testosterone-laden movie action heroes, as well as overpaid and over-pampered pro athletes—the last bastions of manhood in 2004.
Only in America can we build a monument to a president who unleashed a completely unnecessary war on his own people, killing hundreds of thousands, and at the same time cry buckets over non-lethal abuse that is probably no worse than what goes on in some of our own prisons here at home. Perhaps, it’s better if we abuse our own.
But, America is chock full of contradictions. We have a national holiday celebrating motherhood and also promote abortion. We want low energy costs, but don’t want to develop domestic resources. We want the finest health care free of charge. Far too many of us claim to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, as if that were actually possible. And, we want security with no sacrifice, no rough edges, and above all, no bad images on CNN.
Apparently, we should have prevented 9/11 without harming anyone’s perceived civil rights; won a war in 36 hours with no casualties on either side; occupied a country with tribalistic factions going back over a thousand years, and had everyone sipping coffee together at Starbucks within a month; all the while getting the international approval of the effete Europeans, Middle Eastern dictators, and African despots.
In an era when everything is political and politicized, we need political leadership, but how long has it been since we’ve had it? Fanboys on both sides of the aisle will lionize their favorites, but this writer knows too much history to fall for the hero worship. When you strip away the facade, it’s clear that the great American economic engine has simply been powerful enough to pull us along, despite—not because of—the leadership. It worked for Reagan just like it worked for FDR.
John Kerry, when he’s not talking about his 4-month tour in Vietnam over 30 years ago, makes a big point of his lifelong dedication to “public service.” This term used to mean that after a successful career in the private sector, one would give something back by entering the public sector, usually for a short time. This model would change in the mid-19th century, as more career politicians came to the fore.
The problem, of course, is that the primary concern of the careerists is not doing good, it is rather getting reelected. Moreover, given the present condition of major corporate execs, and the bureaucratic and toady nature of most big companies, that track is hardly fruitful, either. Kerry’s ascendancy and Wesley Clark’s short-lived campaign have reopened a view toward the military, but those two won’t remind anyone of storied warriors of our past.
Perhaps the best place to look for a real leader would be in the entrepreneurial world of small business, but that idea is way too contrarian to catch on, and besides, who in that group would want to leave what he is doing to enter the frustrating world of politics? Someone used to making his own decisions, and getting things done quickly will probably not take too well to Byzantine regulations, endless personnel hassles, and the “art of compromise.”
As such, we’re left with an undistinguished and weak group of functionaries, cowering in the face of the media.
An ancient Catholic dictum teaches that all human institutions are destined to fail, because of Original Sin. Before you laugh this off, try coming up with a better explanation.