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gadflyarch

Hurricane Sandy: The Politics Of Tragedy

4 posts in this topic

Sitting here in the middle of Sandy's sphere of destruction, the images on TV are too personal to take for long. I and my family were spared the worst of it Previous storms had damaged us much worse. But within a few miles falling trees killed people and within a few hours drive it looks like post war Europe.

The tragedy is bad enough but the sanctimonious attitude and bearing of the presidential candidates are enough to put me over the edge. I am not a huge Gov. Christie fan, but the man looks like he has not slept in a week and he is clearly fighting the fight. So is the mayor of NYC. The presidential guys... well, that's another story. What comes across to me is that their biggest concern is "looking presidential."

Where did we lose the edge? There has never been a national politician that did not consider politics in his or her overall assessment of how to deal with issues and circumstances. But, while you knew it was there, there were such men (as Harry Truman) who convinced you that, though politics were important, they weren't of first importance. We knew that down deep it was the country and the people first. I no longer see that in any of the first tier politicians. It is a great sadness to me because, at the core of my soul, I am OK with someone whose politics, like Truman's, are far removed from my own. I can accept him as a worthy opponent, argue with him, and fight hard to oppose him, but the basic respect is never lost. We both are pursuing the same goals and, essentially, motivated by the same values. Now... I am not so confident. Respect is lacking because the essential integrity is dubious. It boils down, I suppose, to a matter of integrity.

Camelot is a fairy tale and the "good ole days" are a delusion, but there was a time when "honor" meant something and sometimes, even more than life itself. Transcendental values fair very poorly in today's dialectic because the prevailing cynicism considers them archaic and silly. But in the midst of a storm, what this country needs more than anything else is a sense that there is something more that binds us together than a passing sound bite, or a sham of compassion. What we need is a sense that our "honor" is at stake. That, to be an American, is to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done to deal with the issues we face, whatever the cost.

Dealing with this storm is, in the long run, a minor thing. The greatest threats to our country are far more comprehensive than a regional disaster. As we face those threats, what we need to know is that there is a fundamental unity underlying our differences and that those differences will not tear us apart. What we need to know is that we are one country, under God, and therein lies the hope for our children, grandchildren and, God willing, those who come after them.

Perhaps.. God willing... things will change.

Edited by Joe McQuade

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The tragedy is bad enough but the sanctimonious attitude and bearing of the presidential candidates are enough to put me over the edge. I am not a huge Gov. Christie fan, but the man looks like he has not slept in a week and he is clearly fighting the fight. So is the mayor of NYC. The presidential guys... well, that's another story. What comes across to me is that their biggest concern is "looking presidential."

I think this is unfair to both candidates, particularly Obama, who has been guilty of nothing more than doing his job and doing it well in the Sandy aftermath. GOP keynote speaker Chris Christie agrees. So do Americans by a 68-15 margin, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll this weekend.

Romney was caught supplying canned goods to rally attendees and then accepting the food back with effusive thanks moments later. That was a cynical lapse, but anyone who has read about his selflessness when he was a Mormon bishop knows he is a fundamentally decent man.

Where did we lose the edge? There has never been a national politician that did not consider politics in his or her overall assessment of how to deal with issues and circumstances. But, while you knew it was there, there were such men (as Harry Truman) who convinced you that, though politics were important, they weren't of first importance. We knew that down deep it was the country and the people first. I no longer see that in any of the first tier politicians...Respect is lacking because the essential integrity is dubious. It boils down, I suppose, to a matter of integrity.

Obama lacks integrity? Conservative columnist David Brooks disagrees.

"In some ways, Obama has lived up to the promise of (election day, 2008). In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character...In moral terms, he hasn't let us down. If he's re-elected, his administration probably would remain scandal-free. That is no small thing."

GFA, when it comes to Romney's business and political dealings, might be closer to the mark, But I still think it's too harsh to say neither man has personal integrity and that one is no different from the other.

As to Harry Truman, a product of the Pendergast machine who was a remote figure heard only on radio in GFA's childhood, it's difficult to know what evidence GFA relies on to declare him ethically superior to our 2012 nominees.

...As we face those threats, what we need to know is that there is a fundamental unity underlying our differences and that those differences will not tear us apart...

Ironic. Our president came to office campaigning on just that theme. He met a brick wall of hateful opposition from people who question his citizenship and patriotism while shouting, "We want our country back!" And then he is criticized for failing to bring us all together.

The blame for that clearly lies elsewhere.

Perhaps.. God willing... things will change.

I share that hope, but the Tea Party-dominated GOP seems singularly unqualified to fulfill it.

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I will stick with the picture David McCullough painted of Truman in his massive biography - Pendergast slurs aside - if you have some particular indictment against him I would like to hear it.

Certainly Obama appears to be not a philanderer as was Clinton. If that establishes his integrity then it's a fairly low bar to pass. Otherwise, he is the most narcissistic president ever... his lack of essential respect for the members of the supreme court is documented... his record of subverting the constitution and the division of powers is well established... his hypocrisy in dealing with business is clear. I do not need to bring up the rest - nor do I intend to. He is a Chicago brawler with all the attendant baggage. David Brooks has not established any credentials with me for being a judge in this regard.

Romney, if elected, will be a far superior president in this if nothing else... he understands what it means to be a statesman. I am no enthusiast and I am disgusted with the Republicans for not apparently being able to scrape up a candidate more compelling than he. I don't have great hopes for the future either way.

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I will stick with the picture David McCullough painted of Truman in his massive biography - Pendergast slurs aside - if you have some particular indictment against him I would like to hear it.

I'm a big fan of McCullough and Truman, and I've read the book in question. Though it won the Pulitzer, I consider it one of McCullough's lesser efforts. No matter. I assert only that there is nothing in this book or in any of the many other serious biographical treatments I've read of both men that establishes Truman was ethically superior to Barack Obama.

I feel quite certain I am joined in this opinion by one David McCullough, who's an Obama fan himself. He has spoken very favorably of our current president in interviews with Charlie Rose and Fareed Zakaria, among others.

Certainly Obama appears to be not a philanderer as was Clinton. If that establishes his integrity then it's a fairly low bar to pass.

Scorecard: GFA 1, Straw Man 0.

Otherwise, he is the most narcissistic president ever... his lack of essential respect for the members of the supreme court is documented... his record of subverting the constitution and the division of powers is well established... his hypocrisy in dealing with business is clear. I do not need to bring up the rest - nor do I intend to. He is a Chicago brawler with all the attendant baggage. David Brooks has not established any credentials with me for being a judge in this regard.

I hope it doesn't escalate things too much to note that assertion is not analysis, and vitriolic ad hominem is not evidence. Why, even the owlish, mild-mannered David Brooks got caught in the crossfire.

Brooks, a conservative who opposes many of Obama's policies, has interviewed the president and dealt with him up close for years. He does, alas, apparently lack the unique vantage that allows GFA to see into Obama's soul.

Romney, if elected, will be a far superior president in this if nothing else... he understands what it means to be a statesman. I am no enthusiast and I am disgusted with the Republicans for not apparently being able to scrape up a candidate more compelling than he. I don't have great hopes for the future either way.

I hope that, no matter what happens, GFA can look at our country with fresh eyes come Wednesday. Ours is a great nation and, for all our problems, these are good times indeed.

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