“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation”
Yes, it is important who the Republicans choose as the flag-bearer for the Next Biggest Election Of Our Life This Time.
Yes, it is important to know that we have a clear winner that everyone on our side can get behind and support as well as draw the losers over from the squishy middle and some disaffected lefties.
Yes, it is important.....actually, no, it isn't. Not really. Not yet. We're still a year out from primaries, which is about 11 months too long in terms of public interest, probability of saying or doing something incredibly damaging to one's candidacy, and the overall fatigue in terms of news cycles and how much extraneous information will be required to fill the time.
Let's face it; none of these people are that compelling or have such amazing ideas that anyone outside of the political junkies really cares. So why subject themselves (and us) to their banal statements and potential gaffes so far out?
The Founders were incredibly great (if flawed) men. They achieved the most amazing thing mankind has ever done, replaced only by the lunar landing nearly 200 years later.
These men were not professional politicians, nor were they power-mad wannabes. They were merchants, soldiers, gentlemen, financiers. Of course there were squabbles amongst themselves, but it was always about the best interests of this new nation they had created.
Most importantly, they were GIVEN power to lead our new country because they were responsible for the creation and stability of it. There were bitterly contested elections early on, but it was a struggle between the best men of the time, the ones who wanted the power and frankly deserved it.
George Washington in particular is the most famous example of "republic first" thinking since Cincinnatus. He resisted the presidency initially, then chose to leave after two terms, setting a precedent that was honored until FDR served 4 terms and the Constitution was altered to force future presidents to limit themselves to no more time in office than the first Dubya had.
Adams, Jefferson, Madison -- these were the men who wrote the most sacred American political words we have. The Declaration and the Constitution, along with all of the letters and arguments leading up to these documents were the results of the framework built by towering minds.
Today we have professional politicians, usually attorneys who made millions by milking the very system created by the above-termed Towering Minds, or by hiding out in one government job after another, climbing the political ladder. These men and women are not interested in serving the nation as much as they are in having the power. This of course is not a new complaint, but every single one of them is a transparent phony. Both sides are exhibiting a distinct lack of proper presidential material.
If you doubt this, imagine asking this question of each of them: "Candidate X, the developments of nuclear issues and terrorism are arguably the greatest challenge facing the next president. Can you please explain to me exactly why you are so bent on taking a job that will require you to deal with such issues as:
1. A hostile Iran with nuclear weapons, missile ability to hit anywhere in Israel, and a fanatical death cult in charge, 2. A situation in Iraq that continues to be very shaky due to the internecine struggles of the same death cult mingling with millenia-old conflicts, 3. The same situation in Iraq that is currently a political football in the hands of congress so it is likely that regardless of your plan, it will be watered-down at best and scuttled at worst, 4. The sure knowledge that leaving Iraq WILL result in a situation similar to that of Cambodia and Vietnam -- perhaps the name Pol Pot will ring a bell, 5. Syria and Lebanon continuing to be the outreach arm and suppliers of Hezbollah -- you know, the group that has killed more Americans than even Al Quaeda, 6. A nuclear North Korea continuing to test missiles that land near Hawaii and off the coast of California, 7. An increasingly industrialized/devoloped China that is in the process of testing its own ballistic missiles by shooting satellites, thereby increasing space debris and endangering our own satellites, 8. The sure knowledge that losing our GPS and communications satellites will instantly cripple our military strength and force us to fight (if necessary) on technological terms equal to, instead of superior to, any given enemy, 9. The looming crises of illegal immigration, social security bankruptcy, and healthcare provider issues resulting from the aging Boomer population, 10. A hostile congress regardless of election results -- both sides have largely moved to the socialist middle and pretty much only argue about details -- so any bold plans you might have are likely to stay just that: plans.
Of course, sir or madam, the perks of being POTUS are many. But given just these few things that you KNOW you will have to deal with, why exactly do you want the job?"
Answer: Insert some bland blathering about serving the nation and "getting us on the right track again" and "believing I am the one best suited to face these grave national challenges" etc....
The watering-down of talent and worth (in presidential candidates) over the history of this country has, in my opinion, reached an all-time low. My next post will deal more with the candidates themselves.
We are at war. You would think that would be obvious, but it's not.
Our nation has been drawn into a conflict that we did not choose, by the actions of religious fanatics, militias, and their governments' tacit approval and sometimes support. Our citizens, our allies, and our national interests have been under attack since 1979, including our embassies, military bases, civilians on airlines and cruise ships, and our own World Trade Center twice. Our allies have been invaded and we led a coalition to turn the aggressors back.
In response to these and other threats, our representatives in government have enacted legislation to unseat a dictator and replace his government with a democracy (Iraq Liberation Act of 1998), give wide discretionary latitude to the president in fighting terrorism, including detaining persons or property, enhanced surveillance, and general carte blanche as long as it is in the name of National Security (USA Act of 2001), and we have gone on to unseat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The Iraqi situation is of particular note because it has been official US policy to do so since October 1998, enacted by the Clinton administration. We have undertaken hostilities and unleashed part of the awesome might of our military upon sovereign nations who have attacked us.
Remember, these are pieces of legislation that were very close to being unanimous in terms of voting. Democrats and Republicans came together on both of these major bills, and only a few who did not vote or were lone holdouts did not support them.
The legality of our actions is unquestionable. The War on Terror is legal and was supported by those who are now most vocal in their antiwar stance. The members of the Senate who had access to Intelligence regarding Saddam's pursuit of nuclear and biological weapons in defiance of 17 UN resolutions, and who voted accordingly, have been engaged for years in calling the President a liar for his use of the exact same Intelligence in pursuing the option to dethrone the dictator.
Your senators and representatives voted for this. By extension, YOU voted for this.
But something has happened. Democrats and faithless Republicans have turned not only away from the war, but also their nation. Because of the continuing influence of the Baby Boom generation, there is a movement underway to paint President Bush as Nixon, the War in Iraq as Vietnam, and the Intelligence controversy as Watergate.
The war has not been fought (due to leadership failures, not because of our troops) to the extent necessary to crush the opponent. We have been less effective at sealing the borders of Iraq than our own. There has been a quick turnover of control to the provisional government of the Iraqis, and millenia-old rivalries and cultural impediments continue to plague the entire process. We have not used fear to tame the populace in the postwar reconstruction. External assistance for the enemy has not been pursued and eliminated. There is no doubt that while we did great in the war and have been quietly amazing in the postwar, it could be done much more efficiently and with less risk to our own troops.
Regardless of the negative aspects of the war, we citizens have a duty to stand behind our government and military forces. If there is truly a movement to end the war and bring the boys home, then those representatives and senators need to stand up and call for cutting the purse strings -- the President may have discretion to use the troops, but it is Congress who determines how long he can afford to have them. To take a stand against the war is perfectly fine and in the American spirit; to lob media spitballs and undercut the war effort without really doing anything to end it is cheap and underhanded.
The antiwar crowd decries the President because of the detainees (illegal combatants), increased wiretap and surveillance of known foreign hostiles communicating with Americans, the perceived quagmire of Iraq, and the incorrect Intelligence regarding Saddam's weapons program.
The obvious counter to these charges is twofold. First, look at history -- Franklin Roosevelt had no problem rounding up American citizens of Japanese descent and putting them in camps in the desert. Robert Kennedy, Attorney General for John F. Kennedy, was responsible for wiretapping Martin Luther King. Abraham Lincoln famously suspended habeas corpus and deported a member of Congress, Clement Vallandigham, for his antiwar actions -- the Confederacy didn't want him either -- and had the military arrest a Maryland civilian for his antiwar actions as well. George Washington tested the brand-new constitution when he used the military to put down the Whiskey Rebellion and prevent western Pennsylvania from seceding.
In each of these cases, the constitution was tested. In Lincoln's case in particular, the actions of the president were likely NOT constitutional (suspending the writ of habeas corpus is in the Constitution, but it is not clear whether that power lies in the President or the Congress), but the defense is that if the nation falls, then no Constitution matters anymore. In other words, the security of the nation ultimately DOES trump the guarantees of the Constitution when the nation itself is at stake.
As a libertarian-minded conservative, that last sentence burns me like it hopefully does you. Obviously, it is preferable to change the government than rework the nation and come up with a new constitution. In extreme cases, however, survival, like that of the individual, will quickly become the single most important thing to a nation. If that means some areas of the Constitution are suspended for a time, then that will happen -- this is already law based on many bills regarding Civil Defense dating back to the Cold War, and newly updated by the aspects of the Patriot Act.
In any case, the charges made toward President Bush, although they may appear similar on the surface, are completely irrelevant. Remember, the issues facing the President are legally sanctified by the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 and the USA Act of 2001. The actions of this president are not only NOT unconstitutional, but also upheld in legislation that practically requires him to perform as he has. Not only is the safety and security of this nation at risk, WE have given him the discretion and there is simply no constitutional problem with his actions.
For now we have to band together as we did on 9/12/01. Regardless of the letter after the name of the president or Speaker, we need to win. Whether we should be involved or not is academic; we are there, and the people not only allowed it but demanded it in the form of the 2 laws discussed here. We are in, for better or worse. We must win, and that will not happen with the division and cheap political shots that undercut the effort.
My parents and grandparents participated in rubber, gasoline, and metal recycling drives (long before the commie envirostalinists were around) for the war effort. People had rations for groceries, and the face of our workforce changed as women went to work in factories to build tanks and planes for their fathers, husbands, brothers, and boyfriends. Hollywood made film after film extolling the glory of the soldier and the romanticism of wartime. The entire fabric of our society was involved in the war, and it was unequivocal in its support of our winning. There were blowhard senators who harrumphed about the war, but they were not taken seriously and the entire country was behind Our Boys and wanted them to win so they could come home.
Can anyone seriously imagine the guy in the cubicle next to you giving up the SUV so the Marines could have more gas? How about the HR manager going without her nylons? Or a movie (Flags of Our Fathers is an exception) that tells the story in a positive way? For that matter, how about an actor or musician signing up to serve? Are you willing to let your house go dark a couple of nights a week to help conserve energy?
We have lost a great deal in this country, and our war stance compared to that of a generation or two ago, is the most striking proof of that. We have to win. In order to do that, we have to support the effort. Most do this as I am now, with words on a screen. My parents rationed food.
Republicans want to settle the Iraq tussle but lack the guts to do so decisively; whether this state is a result of their desire to look good with their new Dem overlords, their desire to look good with the DC/NY press, their desire to look good for CNN/MSNBC, or to get invited to the cocktail parties, is unknown. Most likely it is a combination of all these things, with a dash of political cowardice, a pinch of mealymouth, and the short-sightedness of political ambition.
Democrats claim to want to win, but their every action belies this. Some of these actions include endless comparisons to Viet Nam, speech after speech running down the Bush administration's intelligence-gathering (and fundamental honesty) while ignoring that the EXACT SAME INFORMATION was being put forth by the Clinton administration throughout the late 1990s, and various resolutions (non-binding, of course) that are "no-confidence" statements of the President and trial balloons involving cutting off funding for the war effort. Their own hypocrisy and cowardice are shown most effectively in this last example. If the dems were truly an "anti-war" and "anti-THIS-war" party, if they truly believed that what is happening in Iraq is wrong and goes against our American values and beliefs, if they truly think that 3000 American dead in 3 years is far too great a casualty toll to bear, then they have not only the right but also the RESPONSIBILITY to cut off funding. Period. They have the numbers in both the House and Senate; of course the President would veto it, but if the dems truly are united in this belief and have the ability to sway the weak Repubs their way, they could override that veto.
This is the curious situation -- enjoying large popular support from both sides in 2003, no one wants this war now. Too bad -- we're in it; the only option is to win it. Got that, Senator Clinton, and Mayor Giuliani? WE ARE IN TO WIN.
In 1998 all the dems wanted to go in and kick Saddam out and set up a democracy. In fact, John Kerry gave one of the best and most persuasive speeches of his life in support of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which calls for:
[Expresses] the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.
This act passed the House on October 5, 1998, by a margin of 359-38. Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha did not vote, along with 20 of their dem colleagues. The corresponding Senate bill passed with UNANIMOUS CONSENT on October 7, 1998. This means that no one in the Senate at that time (Kennedy, Reid, Kerry, Biden, etc.) had any qualms about this resolution or its consequences. There was no debate; all were on board and ready to go into Iraq. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton on October 31, 1998. In his signing statement, he remarked:
"...I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life."
So it would appear that Bill Clinton and several of his policy supporters must have believed that peace among the factions was possible once the dictator had been removed. This is in stark contrast to the statements of many congressional figures in the months since we brought Saddam down.
It was established United States policy, two full years before the 2000 election, three full years before 9/11, and nearly six full years before the invasion of Iraq, that the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein would end, and that we would assist the Iraqis in defense of their country and development of a democratic regime so they could join the modern world in peace.
The dems have forgotten all this, the media has forgotten all this, and apparently the Republicans have as well. It is ultimately not going to matter much for the near future, since the 2008 elections are two years away, and there is neither the numerical strength nor the political integrity of the dems to truly undercut the war effort. They know that doing so will prove that they are not out to win; whether it is a political maneuver because they don't want Bush proven right or whether there is truly an anti-American-achievement streak that has been charged will make no difference.
Americans may not be the most subtle, or the most discerning, or most scholarly, or even the most united. But we all know that WE HATE LOSING. That is why we went from being a second-rate power at the end of the Civil War, to becoming a major power in World War I, to being the ultimate power in World War II. We did not allow the Germans to take over Europe twice, we did not allow the Japanese to dominate Asia, we stood up to our most fearsome rival the USSR, and bankrupted it into submission. We are not going to allow our soldiers and our national image be run out of a sandbox by a bunch of suicidal fanatics with delusions of grandeur.
The next couple of years will continue to be filled with hysterical talking-point media blitzes on the latest bombing or bloodbath. Dem leaders will continue to cluck about how horrible it all is while doing NOTHING to prevent it (and it is within their power to do so), and the Republicans will continue to give in because they have forgotten how fight as a minority party.
The only way for the dems to get behind this war is to give them the same circumstances that got us in: They will need to hold the House and Senate in the 2008 elections and capture the White House. That's it. Once they hold all the marbles, including the big one, there will be no room for excuses. They will be forced to decide how to win it and be done, or get behind their cut-and-run rhetoric and it will be that administration, that congress, that will be judged accordingly.
Obviously there are many other concerns about a dem majority that do not involve war/Iraq. Taxes, regulation, judges, etc., are always points of concern. But by 2008 not only will Iraq be significantly better or significantly worse off, the looming Iranian nuclear situation will be more sharply focused, the Norks and Chinese will be better positioned, and there is always the joy that is Hezbollah and the Palestinians with Syrian meddling to deal with.
Don't worry -- this blog will never make a call to root for the socialist dems. I do NOT want the Lizard Queen to get the throne, and will always prefer a squishy Republican to nearly any Democrat (in their current state). Even Joe Lieberman, as discussed many times here in the past, with his unyielding support for our efforts in Iraq and unavowed American defense support, is in so many other ways unacceptable to a conservative libertarian-ish point of view and is not preferred by this blog. Yes, I'll gladly take Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chaffee over Joe Lieberman ANY day.
It is merely as stated above -- a curious state of affairs that events have led me to even consider that giving the dems the trifecta in 2008 might just be the way to get this Iraq thing over with, for better or worse.