Monday, July 14, 2008

To elaborate on all the to-do about whining and the FDR rejoinder (if indeed rejoinder is appropriate):

Ol' Phil has a a point. And I remember when he ran for President in '96. I thought "This man doesn't have a chance in fucking hell." First of all, you don't want to come out of the gates and say "Stop whining" like Schwarzenegger in whatever movie that was. It's not constructive. Not now--or ever, probably. Fan the flames, like when MacArthur went in and burned down the Hoovervilles, and you will not be remembered in the final judgment as a positive contributor to the greater good. History has not treated Douglas MacArthur kindly, for that and a few other reasons. Years later Truman punked him, unpopular at the time, but correct. This is how he wrote about it in his diary:

April 7, 1951: "We met again this morning--Gen. Marshall, Dean Atcheson, Mr. Harriman and Gen. Bradley. It is the unanimous opinion of all that MacArthur be relieved. All four so advise."

Eloquence and (or) a bit of humility is hard to come by, much less economy of language, when it comes to matters of public record. FDR had both in spades. So did Truman. We need that now, more than ever. Words matter, as Barack reminds us. And I would add, how they're said. I say: Speeches, followed by action = Solutions. Speeches first, then lay out the agenda in a way that makes sense, with a positive attitude that does not annoy you with empty cheerleading. And finally, do your job. Follow through. Show appreciation in a genuine way towards those who do the grunt work to help get the job done. Not: "You people are all a bunch of fucking pussies." And then: "Lets go fuck this shit up!" And isn't that what Phil Gramm really means? What he SAYS may be true in many respects. Yes, we are a bunch of fucking pussies when you look back a ways and and dust off the History books. But humanity survives when it learns to pull a few punches. If restoring responsibility is what you want, calling (or naming) names is not the way to do it. And knowing what you know about Gramm, about how he's lived his life, one must ask: Who do you trust? And further to the point: At the Olympics this summer, what will people be chanting? "U.B.S.?"

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