kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Do As I Say?

President Ford is no longer with us; he seemed like a nice enough fellow, and clearly Homer Simpson got along with him much better than George H.W. Bush.

We are now in the phase of saying wonderful things about him--he healed the nation, he was a man of integrity, he was a fabulous human being. Perhaps. On the other hand, he was pretty much of a non-entity, helped Reagan figure out precisely how to get the 1980 nomination, became somewhat of a laughingstock with his "Whip Inflation Now" buttons, and historians and others argue about the Mayaguez incident. I don't have any particular truck with him, but when the history of this century is written, it will be abundandtly clear that another figure who died this week--James Brown--will be of vastly greater importance.

I'm more interested in what our current President had to say. Here are the quotes and paraphrases, with a brief remark following:

Former President Gerald Ford will forever be remembered for helping to "heal our land" following the Watergate scandal.

Our President, on the other hand, has done little but generate and exacerbate the genuine hostility that exists in the body politic, by ignoring environmental threats, by acting as if Christians have a special route to the truth, and by questioning the patriotism of those who criticize his Administration. Thus we have, as we did with Nixon, wounds badly in need of beng healed. Thus Bush seems to have followed Nixon by a) campaigning on a unity theme (remember Nixon's "Bring Us Together"?)--"I'm a uniter, not a divider" and b) doing almost everything imaginable to violate that theme.

Bush praised the former president for using common sense and "quiet integrity" to restore the nation's confidence.

Our President, on the other hand, has shown little common sense and less integrity, by invading a country that was not much of a threat, inflating whatever threat there was, changing the reasons from day to day for how he dealt with that threat, and then having, evidently, no clue how to deal with Iraq after militarily deposing Saddam Hussein, has disregarded much of the advice (and common sense) and chosen to escalate the US commitment to the war. People on the right don't like the comparisons between Iraq and Viet Nam, and the analogies aren't perfect, but how long until we hear that we have to destroy Fallujah (or Najaf, or even Baghdad) in order to save it? Nixon move number two.

"The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his personal character and the honorable conduct of his administration.

Our President, on the other hand, has indicated that torture, illegal wiretapping, suspension of habeas corpus, and extraordinary rendition are his, and his alone, to approve--so much for "honorable conduct." W. confuses consistency with character; Emerson told us all we need to know about a foolish consistency. Duty, consistency, and resolve all sound like characteristics of a good leader, unless we look at the ends to which they are directed. Then they start to look like stubbornness, an unwillingness to look at the real issues, and a borderline paranoiac perspective on views coming from outside one's own perspective. Nixon move number three.

"With his quiet integrity, common sense and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency," Bush commented.

Our President, on the other hand, is responsible for the integrity of those who, for instance, choose to denigrate the military service of those who actually served in country; those who question the patriotism of critics; those who accuse journalists of being fifth-columnist terrorists; those who continued, long after it was plausible, to suggest links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and those who were willing to leak names and information as political payback. Our President had helped wound our land, and drawn down sharply whatever reservoir of good will and public confidence that had been extended to the presidency, most saliently after 9.11. He has shown little or no integrity, little or no common sense, few if any kind instincts; he has failed to heal our land and failed to restore public confidence in the presidency. Nixon move number four.

Evidently, W. didn't listen to what he himself said about Ford; the contrast is striking with Ford, and the similarities apparent between Bush and the man Ford replaced. The difference is that while Bush and Nixon may have shared the meanness, the pettiness, and the vindictiveness, Bush lacks what Nixon did have--a global vision, a sense of realism, and the political intelligence to try and reach those goals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well written. I don't know much about that part of history so I can't say much one way or the other, but I'm pretty sure you know how I feel about our current President. I had a question about the blog though: Have you switched over to the new google beta format or are you still using the original blogger format?

9:43 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

Still using the original.

I'm planning to switch over, but no one seems ever to read this thing, so I figure there's no hurry.

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