Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blasted

Western Europeans pay around $8 a gallon for gas. They pay higher taxes than we do. And yet, they enjoy a standard of living comparable to or better than ours and receive social services like comprehensive health care. How can this be? Well, for one thing, European economies aren't saddled with the crippling burden of a massive defense establishment. No one has made this point with more eloquence than newly elected President Dwight Eisenhower did back in 1953:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

The full text of the speech, which was broadcast on radio and television, is here. In the speech, given at the April 16, 1953 meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Eisenhower laid out a set five guiding principles for the United States as it engaged in the post-war world. We would all be better off had the Bush Administration taken particular heed of the second and fourth precepts (italics mine):

"First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

"Second: No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

"Third: Any nation's right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

"Fourth: Any nation's attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

"And fifth: A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations."

In 1953, President Eisenhower could expound these principles confident that he spoke for the great majority of Americans regardless of their party affiliation. In 2008 after 20 years of the scorched-earth politics of Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich, and Karl Rove, the president can't assume that. In fact, the president -- whoever he or she may be -- cannot speak of any widely held American ideals. We've been turned against each other by the interjection of wedge issues not only in our politics but in our daily lives. One of our close family friends growing up was a rock-ribbed Republican. It's sad to think that that can't happen today, but it likely couldn't.

The president we have now, of course, doesn't want or care to make such a speech, and he couldn't do it with any credibility anyway. He'd rather impugn the patriotism of millions of Americans who belong to a different political party than risk his delusional self-image as a warfighter pilot landing on a carrier after a hazardous mission. Historians will spend decades delving into the stunted psyche of George Bush and the dark paranoia of Dick Cheney. The twisted combination moral certitude, the need to exceed a parent's accomplishments, the fear and ignorance of the outer world, the pathologies of power and greed have a hideous and irresistible fascination that will transfix researchers and be the cause of endless debate. Today, we're sure paying a price for all of this...

Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind writes in a new book that the White House knew before the invasion the Iraq had no WMDs. Moreover, Suskind's on-the-record investigation reveals that Bush personally ordered the CIA to create a false document linking Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. The White House calls Suskind's assertions both "absurd" and "gutter journalism," absurdity and the gutter admittedly being two things that it has more than a passing familiarity with. Which illustrates two things about the Bush Administration: 
  1. It's knee-jerk mendacity has become so transparent that people (the ever-gullible MSM excepted) routinely assume it lies; and
  2. It doesn't care whether people think it lies or not. The strategy of constant, brazen dissembling has a numbing affect after a while, so it says whatever suits it and reality be damned.
167 days and counting...

5 comments:

PWally said...

EXCELLENT!
Thanks for writing the TRUTH!

Cowtown Pattie said...

Wow, and yes, EXCELLENT! ELOQUENT!

T, double E, double RRR, double I, I C...terrific, to quote the goose.

I am linking this post straightaway.

Melinda said...

Excellent, Paul!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

brilliant post. I have often quote that ike passage which begins "Every gun that is made...."

if only the contemporary republican clan identified with ike and his ilk instead of nixon and ronnie - I expect the world would be in much better shape!

Kay Dennison said...

Incredibly well said! Cowtown Pattie directed me here and I'm so glad I popped in to see you!