Monday, February 11, 2008

The evil that men do

First, a good look at what the next president will have to deal with, and why, in an article entitled "Bush Ad Infinitum", which emphasizes that the evil men do outlives them. It concludes by saying:

To save time, I suggest the next president start with Executive Order #1: Every executive order issued by George W. Bush is hereby rescinded. Effective immediately.
But you really should read the whole thing to see, to feel, how badly off we are and how deep a hole the next president has to dig a way out of before we can get to new business.

Then try Bob Herbert's New York Times essay "Where’s the Big Idea?" for an idea of whether either of the Democratic candidates has a big enough shovel:
Where, in this alleged season of change, is the big idea?

What’s missing in this campaign is a bold vision of where the United States should be heading in these crucially important early years of the 21st century. In their different ways, Senators Clinton and Obama have shown themselves to be inspirational and at times even heroic figures. But neither has offered the vision that this moment in history demands.
It's enough to make grown men cry, to consider this wasteland we have made of what, literally within living memory, was a great nation.

Yes, there were numerous very horrible things wrong in our post-war America; no one should gloss over them and fantasize some Golden Age of peace, prosperity, and brotherhood. But the difference was that there was a largely shared ideal, and a sense that if things are wrong, we can and will work on them and fix them. But apparently as ye sow television, so ye shall reap the bored and uninvolved: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what's on tv tonight.

For a brief, glimmering couple of centuries there it looked like maybe, just maybe, this time civilization could beat the Toynbee Trap:
When a civilization responds to challenges, it grows. When it fails to respond to a challenge, it enters its period of decline. Toynbee argued that "Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."
I'd like to believe I'm being unduly pessimistic, but that's not what the evidence says.

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