Sunday, November 27, 2005

This is too the real America

This is too the real America

My first instinct after seeing the article in the Los Angles Times that former President Carter had written, was that he was due respect from his former position, that certainly any commentary written by a former President would respect the office. How wrong I was. It was one long string of negativity, snide attacks and innuendo, all directed in a vague and unspecified manner, much like watching the evening news.

I was just barely fourteen when Governor Carter became President Carter. It was a young and idealistic time of my life, we were leaving the era of Watergate and Vietnam. We had landed a man on the Moon a mere seven years before, and a total of a dozen men had walked its dusty face since. I was looking forward to Peace, Prosperity, and a blossoming of freedoms that the young man from Plains was promising. We would reduce the military, because we would not need to interfere with other nations, and the vast sum of money saved would reduce inflation and make our economy the envy of the world and our environment a garden. By the time I started college, my opinion of the man was in ruins. Instead of worldwide respect, my country meekly acceded to the surrender of the Panama Canal and the capture and degradement of our Iranian embassy. Our military had been downgraded and decimated to the point of being the employment of last resort. The economy was a wreck, battered by oil prices, inflation, and high interest rates, and the ecology went downhill as a maze of paperwork sprang up to slow development. The aftermath of Three Mile Island prevented any clean power and drowned any nuclear plants, both planned and being built, making old fossil fuel plants produce far beyond their lifespans.

And then came an old man named Reagan.

Where Carter had emphasized the value of compromise, Reagan believed in leadership, doing the Right Thing, stating a belief and convincing people to come to him, instead of betraying principles just to find somewhere to agree. He believed in confronting dictators instead of treating them as equals, that agreements must be verifiable when made with untrustworthy people (see Korea, nukes). He believed in Peace as a National Priority, but not the Peace of Acquiescence, but the peace you get when good men trust and respect you and bad men fear you. He believed in American dominance of the world instead of America as a second-rate power, because America stands for Freedom, and only Tyrants can call that Imperialism. He believed in that which governs least, governs best, and that taxes are a necessary evil that should be kept as low as possible, and not used as a punishment for success. The contrast between the two men could not be sharper.

Now, turning to the Former Presidents LA Times piece.

The primary problem I have with his article is the blind partisan belief that if the Democratic Party stands for something, then the Republicans must be against it. For the most part this is quite false. Conservatives believe in the limited institution of government to protect our rights, where Liberals believe the government exists both to protect everybody from everything, and to make society into what they consider ‘Fair’.

I thought of doing a point by point rebuttal of his article, but it is written so vaguely it would be easier to put a point on a bowling ball. As you read the article, notice he never singles out anyone by name, but points the accusing finger at “our political leaders”, and “those who believe”, and the Imperial “we” (although I sincerely doubt he has any “me” in that “we”) This allow him to make general attacks through innuendo on the president and his administration while claiming to remain “neutral”. Part of this specific vagueness allows him to complain about the U.S. dropping out of treaties (certainly none that “he” negotiated, right?) with countries that no longer exist, through processes built into the treaties. I’m surprised he didn’t manage to criticize the U.S. for not following the Kyoto treaty, even though it was voted down unanimously in the Senate. The most specific part of his article is the section on “extraordinary rendition”, a policy that has Liberals upset supposing violent terrorists might possibly be exported secretly to another country and questioned strenuously about their playmates, and has Conservatives nervous that a future Liberal administration might turn the law on Americans who disagree with whoever holds the current Presidency. Good people on both sides of the aisle have disagreements over this policy, there is no good that will come of simply declaring it “embarrassing”, without having at least some idea on how we should handle a future Mohammad Atta should we capture him in advance of some unknown major terrorist event. Or should we just allow him to post bail and treat him like a common criminal, unable to charge him without revealing what information sources we have emplaced at great expense within the terrorist organizations?

We have reached a new point in world history. In Carters age, a hijacked aircraft would be en-route to Cuba, or some other socialist paradise, in the hands of a deranged idealist. Now aircraft are hijacked by organized groups of suicidal terrorists, determined to kill as many Americans as possible. He worried about carbombs in Ireland and Occupied Israel. We worry about tactical nukes in containers being shipped into New York Harbor. He withdrew our athletes from the Olympics to protest the Russians invading Afghanistan. We are dismantling Russian nukes (by treaty) and storing the components, never to threaten anyone again. He negotiated treaties with tyrants and dictators, and pampered terrorists like Yasaar Arafat on his trips to the U.S. We bring terrorists on tours of our bases too, but they wear blindfolds and shackles, and don’t talk to many reporters.

The world has changed since James Carter became President. Some good, some bad. But the bad policies of the 60s have not magically come back into style in the 21st century like bellbottoms and tie-dye. I still have some respect for the man, he was a dedicated Christian who believed that all men have good intentions, and promoted the ideals of Christianity much as our current president. But I had hopes that he would have learned from his mistakes in government. Grown. Matured. Seen the damage that can be done to a country by weak leadership in times of crisis. And I was wrong.


Blogger Georgfelis said...

Link to Jimmy Carter's article,0,7164514.story

8:47 PM  
Blogger squawpeak said...

Nice summary georgfelis. Thanks too for the comments on News2Know's blog.

2:24 PM  
Blogger squawpeak said...

working on any new posts?

11:59 AM  
Blogger Georgfelis said...

Heh, it takes a lot to get my steam up enough for a full post. Next on Catnaps, "Governor Brownback"

10:44 AM  
Blogger squawpeak said...

check out the latest on, I'd welcome your thoughts.

12:31 AM  

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