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January 31, 2006

If We Had a Real President

Wes Clark gave an alternative State of the Union speech yesterday at the New America Foundation that he has made available on his website.  It's a little like watching "West Wing" - slipping into an alternate Universe where there is a sane presidency.  Clark tells it like it is:

For today we are into our fifth year of war abroad and threats at home, and the state of the union is not what it should be, and not what it could be....

He thanks our troops, talks about what has made this nation a beacon for the rest of the world and mentions how proud he's always been to represent our country.

And this is why today, I come before you with concern.... not in a spirit of partisanship, but because our nation is in trouble, veering from its heritage, and sliding into a dangerous future.

It doesn't have to happen this way, but we can change course only if we speak honestly and directly about what's gone wrong, and why, and how we must change, and then reach across Party lines to bring the American people together.

Today, billions of people abroad believe that America's beacon is fading, our star is dimming, and that America's time is passing. Why?

Clark then lists 8-10 reasons related to our policies in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Europe, and on and on as to why we have fewer friends in the world than we did 5 years ago. and says "The plain truth is, in America's rhetoric and conduct since 9/11, we've made more enemies than friends in the world - and that's no way to protect the American people!"

Then he turns to the domestic scene where, he says, "the beacon of hope is flickering" also.  He talks about the crises in education and healthcare and unemployment and jobs and energy and the environment.  He talks about:

. . . the tragic incompetence of our government: failing effectively to assist the states in the terrible humanitarian catastrophe of Katrina, stumbling through a repetitive cycle of inflated rhetoric and crushing disappointments associated with reconstruction and reform in Iraq and the Middle East, and frustrating millions of American seniors floundering through a poorly designed and badly under resourced Medicare prescription drug program.

Even worse, has been the emergence of what appears to be a culture of corruption reaching from lobbyists, through the Republican leadership in Congress, and into the White House itself.

No wonder so many believe that America is a nation in trouble, squandering our precious resources in a destructive and unnecessary conflict abroad and a spendthrift economy at home. We are, they say, neglecting our future, failing in our duty to our children and grandchildren, and denying them the opportunities to dare, to dream, to achieve and create that our generation and our predecessors have enjoyed.

Then he really gets going. He talks about the bipartisan strategy of containing the spread of Communist ideology and gives an interesting perspective on what happened when we won. 

It was the triumph of American ideals — of the nobility of the human spirit, the priceless significance of freedom and human rights, and the incredible creative force of a free-market economy.

But when we defeated our old adversary, we not only lost our opponent, we also lost our strategy — our organizing principles — the animating principles of our society, and much of the cohesion that held our world together.

Oh, we did well economically in the 1990's, creating jobs, reducing poverty, balancing the budget - but the United States never quite put in place another strategy, another publicly understood, bipartisan set of principles which could guide America's policies at home and abroad, and take us safely into the future. We had taken economic advantage of the global opening, but we really didn't understand how to mitigate the many strategic risks it brought along.

And then, four and a half years ago this nation was viciously attacked in a serious of terrorist hijackings of airliners that resulted in three thousand innocents' deaths. 9/11 was an act of war. Action was required. America struck back at the terrorists who attacked us and the Taliban government in Afghanistan that supported them. And we should have. But, soon the errors began:

He lists them, quite eloquently - letting Bin Laden go, pushing Iran and Korea to accelerate nuclear weapons efforts, invading Iraq, ignoring our European allies, pushing through permanent tax cuts, and encouraging a "pay to play" culture of corruption. 

What's gone wrong? In the last five years we have seen leadership without vision or foresight, a backwards look to tough talk and excessive unfair tax cuts, and a misguided idea from the 1990's that uncooperative Middle East regimes could be "cleaned up" by American military action.

And at the same time we've seen such partisanship that many believe that this Administration lacks the basic decency to respect its political opponents, and the fundamental integrity to adhere to common standards of transparency, honesty, and ethics in government.

Clark calls for an end to one-Party rule and lays out what should happen.  Protect the Constitution.  Investigate the scandals; rein in the Executive branch. Prepare the country for the 21st century.  His proposals are right on.  Better education, especially pre-school.  Improve health care and transition to a single-payer system that provides coverage for all our citizens. Spur research and development, invest in the technology infrastructure, achieve "energy independence", protect our environment, move toward sustainable energy and green engineering, rethink the place of labor, and understand that learning is a lifetime thing.  And how about this?    

-And to address these and many other issues, our government will need more resources, for the great discovery of twentieth century America was not that we should get "government off our backs" but that government's could be a partner in the economy -in infrastructure, in regulation, in research and development, in education, and in health — laying the foundation for the achievements of private industry. In particular, we need resources to empower our people, with new programs comparable to the landmark contributions of the Homestead Act, the GI Bill, and the 30 year Mortgage in order to give every child in America a head start in education, business, home ownership, investment, and economic opportunity.

There is so much more here.  It is at least as good as Sheen/Barlett at his best.  Go read it all.  But here is another paragraph that will make you weep for what we don't have (and I mean here merely a sane president, whether it be Gore, Clark, Feingold, you name him/her).

Ultimately, we will not prevail in this war by killing terrorists — though that may need to be done — but rather by winning the battle for greater tolerance, understanding, and respect between peoples of differing religious convictions. It is first and foremost a battle of ideas. We need to bring terrorists to trial. And we must carefully guard our own values and principles, for in this struggle, moral leadership is far more valuable than pittances of information gained by compromising our beliefs.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 31, 2006 at 04:55 PM in Policy | Permalink

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Comments

Wow, he is a gem. Where do we sign up to support him? This is the real deal here.

Posted by: lisa | Jan 31, 2006 7:42:35 PM

Where do you go? Go to http://www.securingamerica.com/

He really is the deal. Always was, except the MSM was too busy annointing front runners to give him a fair shake.

Posted by: Robin | Feb 1, 2006 2:22:11 PM

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