"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations 2007-2011, recently spoke to our organization. A U.S Naval Academy graduate, he was one of only two officers in the US Navy to have commanded both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He’s currently on the board of directors of both Northrup Grumman Corp and The Center for a New American Security. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. I paraphrase some of his remarks below.
A Wilderness of Disorder
Clearly the old order we grew up with is rapidly disappearing. I use that in the Shakespearean sense, where the wilderness is this multitude, this mass of uncertainty that really surrounds us. That’s the period we’re in. And I do think Europe today, NATO today, epitomizes that. If you look at the structure of NATO it has started to parse into many different groups. If you’re in the East, the threat is Russia. If you’re in the South, it’s North Africa and the Middle East. If you’re in the West, Russia and the Middle East are, well, other people’s problems.
We’re in a time when we place a higher value on ‘The Narrative’ than we do on the substance of a problem. The idea is that if we get the narrative right, we’ve got it right; when in point of fact it is the underlying substance that is important.
A Changing Landscape in Asia
I’m not of a mind that China’s had it’s run and now it’s into a different phase. I think we’re going to see them work very hard with a very centralized approach to weather some of their economic issues. As China looks to the future, it has a strategy that has an economic underpinning and a military underpinning. At its heart is the “Belt and Road” initiative which consists of a Maritime Belt around the Indian Ocean, a Silk Road across Asia, and the Asia Development Bank. It a very interesting strategy that will press China deep into the heart of Asia.
Russia finds itself in a partnership with China that is historically inconsistent. China has been a strategic competitor of Russia, and Russia will soon find itself the junior in that relationship.
The associations and relations we have in Asia are going to be hugely important.
India, Japan and China will be pressing into space in a very big way. We need to think about the business and strategic effects of that.
Asia has found the submarine. We are going to see a proliferation of submarines and unmanned undersea systems there unlike anywhere else.
Our Focus is Too Close
We tend in think in terms of the next budget, what’s in the news, what’s capturing our attention at the moment. We need to spend more time thinking about the patterns of life, about what the drivers are and how they span a generation or perhaps two generations.
We are in a time when actions are more event driven than strategy driven. This is partly driven by the explosion of information availability, people now have instantaneous access to information that was once the purview of the elite. It has shortened the deliberation time leaders have before judgement is delivered from the public domain. It is forcing a compression of events. We need to act less hastily and think more.
Because of this information space we now exist in, we have gotten away from being able to thoughtfully assess whether something is an existential threat, or a vital threat, or perhaps not even a threat. But because of this flood of information, we have now begun to associate violence somewhere with a threat, which is not always the case.
He also touched on many other subjects including: the declining performance of our schools and toll that will take on our entire society, the loss of boundaries between the personal and the public and the corrosive effect that is having on our society, the rise of political and religious extremism, our loss of leadership in nuclear power development, the need to develop directed energy weapons, the increasing importance of unmanned vehicles, and the desperate need we have to develop cyber-warfare and cyber-defense capabilities.
Admiral Roughhead gave me the impression of someone intelligent, thoughtful, and someone aware of the questions that need to be asked but not sure of the answers.
Posted by Lexington Green on 27th October 2014 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Fifty years ago today Ronald Reagan made a famous televised speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s doomed presidential candidacy. The speech was entitled “A Time for Choosing” — but it came to be known simply as “The Speech”.
As Goldwater crashed and burned, Reagan ascended in a single bound to being the leader and embodiment of the American Conservative movement.
It was a spectacular launch to his political career.
(Wherein I meditate upon the relationship between military members and veterans, and the commander-in-chief – present and most recent last.)
I was not a voter especially enamored of establishing a ruling class, so I was not all that enthused about Bush 2. In the 2000 elections I was considerably annoyed that it was an unedifying choice between the scions of two long-established political families. I thought it was not a good omen, redolent of hereditary politics and an established aristocracy – and that there was not that much to choose between them. At this point Al Gore had not displayed anything of his hypocritical and self-serving fixation on so-called ‘global warming’ – and I basically flipped a coin. But as it turned out, post 9-11, my daughter’s commander in chief was Bush 2, and as it also turned out, his respect and consideration for the troops in wartime was a rock of constancy. To quote the line from the TV series Sharpe’s Rifles, “There are two kinds of officers, sir: killin’ officers and murderin’ officers. Killin’ officers are poor old buggers that get you killed by mistake. Murderin’ officers are mad, bad, old buggers that get you killed on purpose – for a country, for a religion, maybe even for a flag.”Read the rest of this entry »
The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document. It follows on the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights as the third great title-deed on which the liberties of the English-speaking peoples are founded…. The political conceptions embodied in the Declaration of Independence are the same as those expressed at that time by Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke and handed down to them by John Hampden and Algernon Sidney. They spring from the same source; they come from the same well of practical truth….
[T]o fully understand the meaning of the American Founding, and of our Declaration and Constitution, we need to go back even farther, to see where they came from. The Founders were not writing on a blank page. Far from it. They made a Revolution because the American people already held strongly to certain principles that they saw coming under increasing threat. And they wrote our Founding documents as a conscious attempt to preserve a valued way of life, at least as much as to make something entirely new.
American Patriots didn’t just propose ideas that were inspired by the philosophy of Magna Carta. They saw that document itself as a part of their inheritance. When, as they perceived it, George III violated their patrimony, they too up arms to defend it.
We rightly celebrate our independence, and the Declaration that proclaimed it.
And we are right to recognize that the freedom our Founders fought for was ancient and the Declaration was the embodiment of something very old.
“I hope that telling stories through ‘Making a Difference’ – as in my academic work and nonprofit work – will help me to live my grandmother’s adage of ‘Life is not about what happens to you, but about what you do with what happens to you.'”
Is that the grandmother who shoulda been aborted ?
Posted by David McFadden on 31st January 2013 (All posts by David McFadden)
The Preamble is one of the few parts of the Constitution that President Obama did not abuse in his first term. He corrected that omission in his second inaugural address by using “We the People” as a refrain. Democratic politicians love to use refrains in their speeches. At Democratic National Conventions the rabble gleefully and robotically chants the refrain with the speaker. The particular refrain Obama used reminded me of a fascinating talk Professor Richard Epstein gave during a panel discussion at the November 2010 Federalist Society Convention. At the time, I was surprised to hear Professor Epstein characterize “We the People” as the “most dangerous words in the American Constitution.” Now I understand that he explained exactly what Obama was up to:
We have a deep ambiguity in our own minds when we start to evoke the image of “the people” in dealing with American constitutional law or indeed with any system of governance. . . . Sometimes we treat it as a celebration: “The American people have spoken and have decided x, y, and z ought to be president,” and what they really mean is that 54% of the voters happen to agree with one side and only 46 with the other, and what we do is we create a kind of an illusion of collective unanimity by taking a term like “people” and turning a majority into a total number. And in fact our Constitution does that in one place where I think it’s most misleading and most dangerous. I think the single most dangerous words in the American Constitution in one sense are the words “We the People,” which begin the Preamble. Now you would ask, now why is it that I would take such a negative view with respect to our document, particularly on this occasion? . . . You have to go back and see what the original draft of this particular provision was, and it said, “We the undersigned delegates of the following states,” and then you go through the rest of the thing. What it does in effect in one way is to kind of create this image of sort of coercive unanimity, and that’s the kind of language that you see also when you’re talking about the People’s Republic of China or the People’s Republic of East Germany–or closer to home, the People’s Republic of Cambridge, the People’s Republic of Berkeley–in which what you’re looking at is the notion that if you can get a majority, what you can do is to design and to organize the preferences of everybody. So the aggressive application of “the people” in terms of its ability to create and make law is in my mind a real open invitation to totalitarianism.
Well, then you look at the other uses of the word people in the Constitution, and by detailed and sophisticated empirical techniques I was able to identify four such uses in the Constitution, all of which are contained in the Bill of Rights, one of them having to do with the right of assembly, one of them having to do with the various issues on searches and seizures, and one having to do with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments on reverse power. [The Second Amendment has another.] Well, this is what I call the benign use of the term people . . . because what you are doing is you are saying every individual within the society is going to be protected against the impositions of government so that the people can be secure in their homes. We do not mean by that sentence that all of us live in one giant tepee in which we have various separate rooms and they are going to be protected. What we mean is that each of us have private and individual rights and that each and every one of them should be protected against government. So the defensive use of the term people in the Bill of Rights has a completely different resonance and a completely different tone than the rather offensive use, i.e., attacking use, of the term when it starts to go into the Preamble. And this, of course, had real consequences with the design of the original Constitution because every time you start hearing the term people in the Preamble being invoked, it’s to sort of indicate the direct relationship of individuals to the central government, which necessarily is meant to sort of underplay and degrade the role of the states in the original system. So it’s not as though this is simply a rhetorical flourish without institutional consequences. It surely has those kinds of institutional consequences.
As if to illustrate Professor Epstein’s point, Obama uses the phrase “We the People” five times to create an illusion of collective unanimity about (1) redistributionism, (2) the welfare state, (3) climate change (formerly known as global warming), (4) something opaque and equivocal about the war formerly known as the War on Terror, and (5) certain civil rights movements guided by equality “just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall.”
Regarding that last one, he probably did not have in mind the men and women, or their predecessors, who would leave footprints along the Mall a few days later in the fortieth March for Life. And in addressing the illusory collective unanimity on the welfare state, Obama used another of his favorite rhetorical devices, the false choice. Those who say we have to choose between having our cake and eating it too are presenting a false choice, Obama argues. We can have our cake, preserving it for our children, and eat it too, he insists. (Actually, he said, “we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” but it’s the same thing).
The inaugural address refers to “collective action” and shows Obama eager to use it to turn the illusory collective unanimity he claims into coercive unanimity. From the perspective of Obama and his infatuates, the Senate, with its advice and consent duty and its tradition of unlimited debate, is a problem to be “fixed,” for it stands in the way of the will of the people. Happily, that effort was checked on bothfronts last week.
It was to be expected, I suppose, that a demagogue par excellence would eventually find the Constitution’s “most misleading and most dangerous” phrase and exploit it to lend legitimacy to his program of undermining liberty and the constitutional structure.
Worth watching. Glick bluntly describes the delusional nature of current US foreign policy and predicts terrible consequences unless we change course. As she puts it in her closing remarks, Israel embarked on a similar delusional course of action in the early 1990s at the eventual cost of thousands of lives. Current US policy repeats Israel’s naive mistakes on a grand scale and will be much more costly unless we change it. And we have the power to change it merely by voting in a new government.
Posted by Ginny on 1st July 2012 (All posts by Ginny)
Last week, in my Sunday School class, the substitute teacher argued that those who linked “liberation theology” with communism were wealthy landowners hoping to tar legitimate complaints of the poor with that brush. The sermon quoted Fr. Martin: “Congressman Ryan – or any of us – can say of a budget plan that slashes supplemental funding for basic economic needs to those in poverty, that it’s a Democrat plan or Republican plan, but no one can ever say that a plan with such likely repercussions is consistent with Church teaching or is a plan Jesus would endorse or approve.” Clearly, that church voice agrees with the letter from some of the Georgetown faculty.
To my mind, Ryan has the better argument. For one thing, he is more descriptive than self-righteous. In both speech and questions, Ryan respects human dignity & human nature – why subsidiarity works. More importantly, he is honest: productivity of all helps all, free lunches aren’t really free, and we have taken from our children to make our lives easy. Implicit is a sense few acts have more questionable ethics than forcing charitable contributions from others or infantilizing those we help. Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday, as is often the case, Obama announced a new executive policy to impose a two year moratorium on deportation of young illegals if they can show they were brought here as children and have finished high school with no encounters with the law. They must be under 30 and were brought here before age 16. He promised that citizenship was not included and did not mention if family members were affected. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security announced that this was the new policy but there has been no confirmation of an executive order.
I don’t have a real problem with this policy but it avoids Congress and legislation, a problem that even Obama acknowledged last year. It is a transparent ploy to appeal for Latino votes. Everyone knows that.
It also will close an opening for compromise.
Obama’s decision probably reduces the likelihood that the scenarios of greatest concern to me will come to pass, especially if Obama is re-elected. Irate Republicans are even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner. As Marco Rubio, who is planning to sponsor some sort of DREAM Act, said today, by imposing a new policy by executive order, Obama has made it harder in the long run to reach consensus on “comprehensive policy,” i.e., one that gives illegal immigrants additional benefits and a path to citizenship.
So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.
Even Obama said the same a few months ago in explaining his then inaction. “I wish I could wave my magic wand,” Mr. Obama said. “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again… At the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself. We’re going to have to get Congress to act. I know Nancy Pelosi’s ready to act. It’s time to stop playing politics.”
Well, playing politics is the order of the day and the Republicans should focus on the illegality of doing it by executive order and not on the policy, itself. With proper safeguards, the policy is a good idea although there may be backlash from semi-skilled unemployed who just got a million new competitors. Certainly the unemployment figures should now be adjusted for all the new legal job seekers.
The distraction of the Daily Caller reporter interrupting the president was an amusing sidelight. Had Obama demonstrated humor and a benign manner, it might have been a good moment for him. Instead, he showed anger and the incident will probably lead to more interruptions as it seems to be the only way to ask this president a question.
Posted by Ginny on 18th March 2012 (All posts by Ginny)
Americans in the nineteenth century mapped the wilderness without – from 1803’s Louisiana Purchase to 1848, the continental United States was filled in. But they were as interested in the voice within, defining the self. The most requested lecture by Frederick Douglass was “Self Made Men”. In his Making the American Self, David Walker Howe contends that “Frederick Douglass was arguably the most thoroughly self-constructed person in the whole nineteenth century. He not only made his own identity, he made his own legend. . . Self-definition was a life-long process” (149). That process is the subject of his Narrative (Monadnock version) (Narrative), which is structured both in style and content by his early reading.
I’ve long wondered how welcome his vision would be in some school rooms – a sturdy self-reliance that has more echoes of Victoria than of Emerson. I love teaching its round sentences, noting its tight arguments, its specific details of slave life. Most of all, though, I teach it as an explicit and powerful “coming to consciousness.” He traces a path many autobiographers take but few as introspectively. And I find his values attractive – consciousness reached through reading, culture as aid. His growth is classic – a youth finds himself (and his relation to certain traditional values) in the city; he has much more in common with Franklin than Rousseau.
Well, Kevin Williamson describes what happened in one school: Jada Williams, an eighth grader at a public school in Rochester, New York read Douglass. He apparently had some of the same effect on her that Sheridan’s speeches had well over a century before on the young Douglass:
Coming across the famous passage in which Douglass quotes the slavemaster Auld, Miss Williams was startled by the words: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.” The situation seemed to her familiar, and[she then wrote] her essay . . . a blistering indictment of the failures of the largely white faculty of her school: ‘When I find myself sitting in a crowded classroom where no real instruction is taking place I can say history does repeat itself.’
“….Boyd would comment in the 80s that the approach was having significant downside on American corporations as former WW2 officers climbed the corporate ladder, creating similar massive, rigid, top-down command&control infrastructures (along with little agility to adapt to changing conditions, US auto industry being one such poster child).”
Wheeler’s comment reminded me of the following post that I had meant to blog earlier:
One occasion in particular in the late 1970s brought this home to me. McNamara had come to one of our staff meetings in the Western Africa Region of the World Bank, where I was a young manager, and he had said he would be ready to answer any questions.
I felt fairly secure as an up-and-coming division chief and a risk-taking kind of guy. So I decided to ask McNamara the question that was on everyone’s lips in the corridors at the time, namely, whether he perceived any tension between his hard-driving policy of pushing out an ever-increasing volume of development loans and improving the quality of the projects that were being financed by the loans. In effect, was there a tension between quantity and quality?
When the time came for questions, I spoke first at the meeting and posed the question.
His reply to me was chilling.
He said that people who asked that kind of question didn’t understand our obligation to do both—we had to do more loans and we had to have higher quality—there was no tension. People who didn’t see that didn’t belong in the World Bank.
This too from a speech by Robert McNamara, “Security in the Contemporary World”:
The rub comes in this: We do not always grasp the meaning of the word “security” in this context. In a modernizing society, security means development.
Security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is not military force, though it may involve it. Security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not in fact develop simply cannot remain “secure.” It cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature.
If security implies anything, it implies a minimal measure of order and stability. Without internal development of at least a minimal degree, order and stability are simply not possible. They are not possible because human nature cannot be frustrated beyond intrinsic limits. It reacts because it must. [break]
Development means economic, social, and political progress. It means a reasonable standard of living, and the word “reasonable” in this context requires continual redefinition. What is “reasonable” in an earlier stage of development will become “unreasonable” in a later stage.
As development progresses, security progresses. And when the people of a nation have organized their own human and natural resources to provide themselves with what they need and expect out of life and have learned to compromise peacefully among competing demands in the larger national interest then their resistance to disorder and violence will be enormously increased.
Think about this in terms of the “armed nation building” of the past decade or so and in terms of successive Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration policies. Really not that much difference if you look at it in terms of securing stability through development – armed or otherwise. Not a novel observation in any way, but bears in mind repeating as the 2012 Presidential campaign continues its “running in place” trajectory….
Update:“Running in place” and “trajectory” don’t really go together, do they? Oh well. You all know what I mean….
“You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient,” Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay rights organization.
We believe that government works for the benefit of private life, and not the other way around. We see government’s mission as fostering and enabling the important realms – our businesses, service clubs, Little Leagues, churches – to flourish. Our first thought is always for those on life’s first rung, and how we might increase their chances of climbing. …
We have broadened the right of parents to select the best place for their children’s education to include every public school, traditional or charter, regardless of geography, tuition-free. And before our current legislature adjourns, we intend to become the first state of full and true choice by saying to every low and middle-income Hoosier family, if you think a non-government school is the right one for your child, you’re as entitled to that option as any wealthy family; here’s a voucher, go sign up. …
An affectionate thank you to the major social welfare programs of the last century, but their sunsetting when those currently or soon to be enrolled have passed off the scene. The creation of new Social Security and Medicare compacts with the young people who will pay for their elders and who deserve to have a backstop available to them in their own retirement. …
Medicare 2.0 should restore to the next generation the dignity of making their own decisions, by delivering its dollars directly to the individual, based on financial and medical need, entrusting and empowering citizens to choose their own insurance and, inevitably, pay for more of their routine care like the discerning, autonomous consumers we know them to be. …
The second worst outcome I can imagine for next year would be to lose to the current president and subject the nation to what might be a fatal last dose of statism. The worst would be to win the election and then prove ourselves incapable of turning the ship of state before it went on the rocks, with us at the helm. …
Posted by Mitch Townsend on 26th January 2011 (All posts by Mitch Townsend)
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, a senior White House official indicated that while President Barack Obama realizes there are problems in his relationship with us, the American people, he intends to hang in and work to make it succeed. The spokesman went on to indicate Obama feels particularly disappointed that we have not appreciated all his efforts to bring us free universal health care. He also feels we are not doing our fair share of the national work, and that 20 months after the end of the recession, we should be doing much better than 9.4% unemployment and only 64.3% civilian workforce participation. He thinks we just are not trying hard enough, and wonders how he can expect to fund green jobs, high-speed rail, and universal fast internet connections without the revenues he needs us to provide. The spokesman conceded that while Obama has run up considerable debts, it was all spent on necessities, and if we had been contributing as we should have, he could have paid for it all in cash. The spokesman went on to say that Obama was willing to give this relationship another two years, and then see where we stand. The spokesman indicated Obama was sorry to take such a hard line, but things must change.
Other White House officials, who asked not to be named, said that Obama could do much better, and did not have to settle for the people of the United States. One official mentioned that Tunisia had just left a long-term relationship, and the United Nations has always had the hots for him. Another said that Obama and France were made for each other, and we had better watch our step, and get some help for what Obama considers our electoral dysfunction.
Posted by Lexington Green on 8th September 2009 (All posts by Lexington Green)
A good speech. The Germans were given every possible chance, and chose war. Chamberlain did not, like us, live in the shadow of “Munich”. He lived in the shadow of July-August 1914, where the major powers of Europe failed to talk, failed to bargain, failed to try to make reasonable accomodations to each other’s demands, and World War I with its millions of deaths resulted. That is what Chamberlain tried to avoid. But, when it proved to be impossible, he led Britain into war, and he did so with a country united because it knew every other possible avenue had been explored. Churchill was right to be charitable to Chamberlain, even as he was right to say Chamberlain should have drawn the line earlier. But few in Britain agreed with Churchill at the time. They did not want to fight the Battle of the Somme again. As it turned out, they had no choice. They were not interested in war, but as the saying goes, it was interested in them.
Yesterday I attended the Wisconsin Economic Forecast Luncheon. I was invited by a financial institution that I work with, who had a table reserved. The purpose of the meeting was to network, and to hear speakers talk about the forecast for the future as far as business goes. I would guess that there were about 500 people there representing all types of business across Wisconsin. There were lawyers, bankers, construction company owners, and many other business represented. Also attending were mayors of some cities, and many state representatives and senators.
The film starred the late great Peter Sellers as a mentally challenged gardener named Chance. Born and raised on the estate of a reclusive rich man, he spent his entire time working with plants and watching TV. When his patron dies, he is cast out into a world that he has only observed through the far remove of television. One would expect that this babe in the woods would soon come to a untimely end.
But the plot is a comedy instead of a tragedy. The main character’s bovine placidity is mistaken for gravitas, his confusion is seen as deep thought, and the occasional cryptic non sequiturs that he utters are heralded as the most precious of wisdom. Chance, the extremely simple gardener, is mistaken as Chauncey Gardener, a successful entrepreneur and man of the world who was brought low by a hostile business environment. It doesn’t take long before the movers and shakers in the world take notice, and congregate to pay homage.
The movie ends with a cabal of political heavyweights deciding that they need to nominate this barely functional idiot for President. The fact that there is no public record of his past life is seen as a boon, since there would be no skeletons in his closet or past scandals to unexpectedly torpedo the campaign.
Isn’t this pretty much the problem that the Democrats have been struggling with for the past few elections?
The Dems nominated John Kerry back in 2004, thinking that his past military service would endear him to patriotic voters. But they weren’t able to erase the memory and recordings of extremely hateful remarks he made in the past, remarks where he accused every single one of the soldiers he served with as being war criminals. Instead of showing Kerry as being a patriotic fellow American, his service was then perceived as a shameless ploy to gain legitimacy before embarking on a political career based on scorn for the very values he was supposed to hold so dear. Incidents during his Presidential campaign also went a long way towards convincing the swing voters that he was actually something of a son of a bitch.
It was obvious that having Kerry wrap himself in the flag during the campaign didn’t work because he showed such contempt for his country at the beginning of his political career, and his own prickly and elitist personality put off a lot of people who were willing to give that a pass. What the Dems needed was a leader who had no skeletons in his closet. They needed someone with enough charisma so everyone could mistake empty platitudes as being profound, confusion at the outside world would be seen as deep thought, and calm placidity would be mistaken for being approachable and friendly.
Just as obviously, Hillary didn’t fit this description in any way.
The first time I heard of Barack Obama was when he threw his hat in the ring to become President, and the first thing that struck me when I started to look in to his qualifications was just how unqualified he was for the job. Seven years in the Illinois state Senate, four years in Washington, and someone actually thinks this guy can be trusted with the crushing responsibility of helming our ship of state for four years? It became clear to me what the Dems were trying to pull when I came across an old VHS copy of Being There while cleaning out one of my closets.
The analogy isn’t exact, of course. The main character in the film was a moron, while Obama is a highly educated and intelligent man. Chance the gardener fell into his enviable position through sheer luck, while Obama has worked tirelessly for decades to achieve his success.
Does this spell the end of Obama’s chances to be elected President? Dunno. It is a long time before the election, or even the end of the Democratic primaries. Just about anything can happen. But I bet that right about now the Dems are wishing that they went with moron who sounded like an educated man, instead of the reverse.
Posted by Ginny on 28th February 2007 (All posts by Ginny)
Petraeus’ speech follows in the tradition of others we have linked on this site. The great old rhetoric may not be as effective in our media-soaked age where all voices are blurred by the white noise that surrounds us (and some of it is more than white noise – it grabs at us even as we read). These may, indeed, be speeches for another era – but I suspect its listeners did listen, knowing a quiet in which such words stand alone.
(Instapundit linked to Mona Charen at The Corner.) Speech below.
Michael Gerson speaks for himself (though where his loyalty lies remain clear). So often his precision, more articulate than Bush’s own, led to our understanding the person who spoke them. (Yes, I wish our presidents wrote their own speeches, but in the end it is Webb’s inconsistency rather than his hoary cliches that poses a problem.)
Posted by Ginny on 14th December 2005 (All posts by Ginny)
Today’s speech noted the distinction between those who were for Bush and those who, believing in the mission in Iraq, were willing to give up not only life on the fast track but life itself:
One of these men was a Marine lieutenant named Ryan McGlothlin, from Lebanon, Virginia. Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him and he always wanted to serve our nation. He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from William & Mary with near-perfect grade averages, and he was on a full scholarship at Stanford, where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.
Two years after the attacks of September the 11th, the young man who had the world at his feet came home from Stanford for a visit. He told his dad, “I just don’t feel like I’m doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our lands from terrorists, so I joined the Marines.” When his father asked him if there was some other way to serve, Ryan replied that he felt a special obligation to step up because he had been given so much. Ryan didn’t support me in the last election, but he supported our mission in Iraq. And he supported his fellow Marines.
Ryan was killed last month fighting the terrorists near the — Iraq’s Syrian border. In his pocket was a poem that Ryan had read at his high school graduation, and it represented the spirit of this fine Marine. The poem was called “Don’t Quit.”
We need to remember – indeed, so do others – that such people see something bigger than Bush. (And what they share with him is that he, too, sees that.)
Posted in Speeches | Comments Off on Speech 4 – Woodrow Wilson Center
Posted by Ginny on 7th October 2005 (All posts by Ginny)
Bush’s speech, transcript & video. Here, he acknowledges feelings the pundits often try to quantify, but moves on to a firm conclusion:
There’s always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, and to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. This would be a pleasant world, but it’s not the world we live in. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday’s brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory. We will keep our nerve and we will win that victory.