"The American people" here, "The American people" there, "conversation with the American people," etc...These kinds of utterances have been made by scores of politicians oven the decades and with the recent turn of the midterm elections, they seem to be back to daily use. And yet, for all the considerations for the "American people," very little substance is ever revealed to us Americans.
Two new books are out and illustrate our lack of information with surprising directness: George W. Bush's memoir "Decision Points" and Gideon Rose's "How Wars End." Bush writes about being blindsided by some events of his presidency (Abu Ghraib, and the post-invasion days in Iraq, among others). That lack of apparent knowledge or understanding by a sitting president who was supposed to know because he was the central figure in the plot is indeed perplexing. It is not "taken out of context" or misinformation written by someone else - these are words written by the former president himself. Conversely, "How Wars End" reveals rhetorical questions by the Iraq war planners in a question: "How long will this go on? Three days, three weeks, three months, three years?" And General Petraeus' response to the planners, "Tell me how this ends."
Several other revelations from the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan suggest a simple point: If the ones in "the know" don't know, how do the American people choose leaders, policies and plans? Is it possible that the current administration with all of its intellectual prowess is also clueless about how to end our involvement in the Middle East?
The recent vote tossed out the majority on its hind side (the Democrats) just as it had tossed out the other majority (the Republicans) in 2008. In the intervening years, we were treated to all kinds of arguments and "truths" for this and for that proposal. The latest cornerstone of the "throw the bums out" campaign was to reduce the size of government, balance the budget, repeal the recently passed health care bill and make permanent the Bush tax cut. [Yet] every time the proponents of these ideas are asked how they would finance the permanent cut in taxes, they defer to needing to, "have a conversation with the American people."
How do we repeal the health care bill and still reform a system that leaves out 47 million Americans? Have a "conversation with the American people." Same goes for entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Boy, it looks like we are going to have a heck of a lot of conversations.
Hardly anyone, except for Messrs. Rand and Ron Paul, advocates for a serious cut in our military budget and the subsequent extrication of our troops from foreign soil. Want to save some serious cash? There you have it - the largest and most expensive military in the world is ripe for the pickings. Got balls, anyone? If not, we can always continue to have endless conversations among ourselves, the American people!
- Carlos Wysling, Bend