Victor Davis Hanson remains one of my all-time favorites:
Unless we return to a meritocracy, emphasize science, math, liberal arts, and engineering—rather than the plague of 'studies' courses (as in environmental-, leisure-, gender-, Latino-, black-, Asia-, Chicano-, community-, feminist-studies, etc.)—we simply will not match the Chinese and Indians in this century.I disagree slightly with VDH. If you bring in just one leader who can pack a stadium, say, a Sarah Palin, that's one thing. As you read the Old Testament, the Israelites got their Hezekiah now and then. But the on-again off-again good leadership marked a decaying trend.
The American people are waiting for a leader bold enough to balance budgets, restore meritocracy, end the therapeutic mushy sentimentality in our educational system, and insist on the rule of law, free markets, and limit government.
Otherwise we know the ultimate end of the present road: a vast bureaucracy of non-taxpaying incompetents, damning the estranged few for not producing ever more to be taxed, convinced that they are geniuses—and only due to some sort of unfairness have been surpassed by others.
The Chinese are rough, competent people and have no such delusions. In about 10 years their enormous financial power will begin to translate into military sophistication, and I don’t think their foreign policy will either have much to do with human rights or care much about what we have to say about them.
If I had a strictly hypothetical beer, it would be with the first POTUS. The genius of Washington was the sincerity of his "It's not about me". Consider the inaugural POTUS inauguration speech (emphasis mine, his humble excellence all his own):
On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.So, if GW was 6'2", how great would our current POTUS seem, juxtaposed?
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
Back to VDH. It's come to this, 226 years after GW's speech:
While exploring the Basilica di San Vitale today, I was reminded of the news from America. An entire nation is obsessed with the silly Henry Louis Gates affair. A supposedly premier intellectual, who is a professor of African-American grievance, gets into a spat with a cop, purportedly evokes his "mama" in slurs, warns the cop whom he is "messin'" with, and then gets affirmation from the President—and we are supposed to think this is some sort of cosmic “teachable moment” in between trying to borrow another trillion dollars to socialize medicine in the manner of the Department of Motor Vehicles?VDH ends on down note, but all is not yet lost.
Just as there is no logic in ruining the American medical system, so too there is no longer an elite class when its best and brightest scream slurs like "mama" and "messin'", or condemn an entire police force as acting "stupidly" when it is trying to keep the rule of law.
Yes, parts of the United States are becoming like the collapsing world outside the sanctum of San Vitale.
As NiceDeb links, the Tea Party Express has a nice, slow burn, leading up to 12Sep09. If the Wicked Witch of the West returns on Monday, 07Sep09 to start the voting engines, that puts the Tea Party Express in the economically bustling vicinity of the Rust Belt, and chugging towards New England, before the Southward swing for DC.
It sure seems to me that the attempt of the Progressives to deconstruct George Washington's good work is heading towards some sort of climax. Surely we all need to offer our "fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe" that these things play out peacefully.
Returning to Hanson's waiting for a leader observation, another crucial point is the need to de-emphasize all the personality politics. Fred Thompson had the closest to Washington's lack of megalomania towards the task. If we do not seek to minimize the moral hazard of the job, seek to de-fang Washington, DC, seek to restore some semblance of Federalism to the single, United State, then whatever happens after 12Sep09 really doesn't matter much. The Federal budget dragon will continue increasingly to consume all. The management-by-crisis style of the Obama Administration will become the status quo. Rule of Law will be exchanged for patronage. The separation between Congress and the Executive will shrink. The increasingly rigged elections will be lauded for their high turnout, and new freedoms will be legislated regularly to paper over the diminished liberty with Orwellian gusto.
Oh, now I'm going down the VDH gloom trail. Antidote:
And then there is always my favorite VDH quote, from an education forum clip somewhere on PJTV:
History tells all of us that nobody gets a pass. Your [country's] perpetual existence is not guaranteed. If you do not believe in yourself, and believe that you're better than the alternative, and have the educational skills to come to that empirical judgment, then there is no reason for you to continue, and often you won't.