Saturday, March 01, 2008

The State of the Union, Viewed on a Saturday Morning

Mary and I have been exchanging emails about a US General who is an RVA grad and a friend and supporter of Obama. She told me that this general was against the war in Iraq and that he thinks that Obama's position has been right-on from the beginning. Here is a copy of my email back to her, for whatever it's worth:

I remember arguing with Austin Carr about going into Iraq before we started that war. He was absolutely for it, and I was not sure at all. But I thought Bush was a good man (and still do) and competent. I don't now think he is competent. By "competent", I don't mean that he is stupid. I simply think that he was not competent to be President, that is, to make those big decisions, to know when to rely on advisers and when not to. I don't know that anyone is competent to be President. Senator Smathers said that Reagan "had a good gut", and told me that before Reagan was President, but was then running for the Republican nomination the second time. Reagan didn't seem to make such bad decisions, although he did make some big mistakes.

I fault Bush with not controlling the Republican Congress, with going along with the "it's our turn" mentality with regard to pork barrel spending, with thinking that we could make tax cuts and still maintain or increase spending. I fault him with not going to the mat on Social Security and Medicare. Frankly, I think he lacked the strength of his convictions, tried to please to many people. In trying to avoid making enemies, I think he made even more than he would have made otherwise. I think that the best he can hope for from history is a verdict that he was "average".

This is not saying that Obama has "the gut" or will be competent. In the first place, there is a serious question of whether the federal government is beyond being governed, regardless of who is President. And in the second, his apparent political philosophy is that big government is capable of being fixed and of being the main solution and maybe is the only solution. I think he is wrong there. In fact, I think those are dangerous ideas. I also think that there will be the same sort of "it's our turn" approach to the people who have been out of power for the last 8 years (or past 200 years, if you consider the expressed grievances of people of color) and that he won't be any stronger than Bush on this issue.

But what troubles me are not Obama, Hillary, McCain, Bush. What troubles me are what is happening in the local public schools, what I see in the media: the decline in American creativity, the moral anarchy, the heedless accumulation of debt, the dissolution of families, the terrible health and eating habits, and the inwardly, selfishly focused and Gnostic tendencies of American Christianity.
Other than that, I'm fine.

1 comment:

Macon said...

I'm still not clear on what should have been done regarding Iraq.

(Here I stipulate that it is the case that Bush and the int'l community believed Saddam was preparing WMDs.)

Leave it alone? After pusing the Taliban out of Afganistan, go after Pakistan?

Was there any best alternative? Does not seem to me to be so. Not to be judged in the present anyhow.

Were there worse decisions? Dunno.

Obama seems like a really slick character to me. I don't like his second amendment views, surely don't like his views on the ability of our govmn't to save us, and threatens to abrogate treaties of our closest neighbors.

McCain for me.