morality in leadership
reminds us all:
If we remembered, truly remembered, why the Cold War was fought and how it was won, for example, we would know that it is unacceptable to alter our liberal democracy in order to fight the war on terrorism either at home or abroad.
It's the foundation of the philosophies of themic: inform your conscience, then follow it.
This is why we have strict rules of engagement. This is why we spend more money to make smarter bombs. This is why we encourage the world to unite together, but why we have to start a war nevertheless. And yes, it's not always easy.
Incidentally, this is why I have a greater and greater respect for President Bush. He may be nuts, he may be stupid, but dammit, he has convictions, and he will follow them until the dear end.
I care if our President's views differ from mine, but I'm more concerned that the President is a good man, and is following those views with his whole heart. You know what that inspires? Faith, people. FAITH.
FAITH means that if we do something we think is good and right, and we do it in the best and most moral way we can, then despite hurdels and speedbumps and even tragedies, we have contributed to making the world a better place, and the world WILL BE a better place.
I remember reading, a while back, an article on the popularity of Vladimir Putin. Asked a wide variety of questions about his policies, he consistently got 60 to 90% disapproval rates amongst the people of Russia. However, asked for an overall approval rate, he was getting 95%. Why the dichotomy? Something to the effect of "I don't have to agree with him to think he's doing a good job."
This is the core of what bothered me about Clinton, as opposed to Bush. Clinton (and Gore 2000) was more interested in public approval rate than in doing what was right
. Well, at least he seemed
that way. You got the feeling that he didn't know what was right, but he just wanted to be loved. This is the personality of an abused husband, a mousy father, inches from bitter resentment and capable of bursts of personal ego-driven irrational behavior. This is the personality of Joaquin Phoenix
Bush, on the other hand, honestly doesn't seem to give a shit what people think of him. Certainly the preparations for war aren't giving him approval raises. Most certainly the delay in waiting for the United Nations to figure out if they're going to say something isn't helping him either, at home or abroad. Although he ceratinly had approval ratings to spare, it's been a long time since I've seen someone so blatantly disregard them. Reagan
This belief in doing what's right is considered many things by different people. Christian Fundamentalism
, Foolhardy and Totalitarian
. It is a series of insults founded on fear and an artificial air of superiority that popular media musters so easily when they lack the time or energy to properly debate.
Yesterday on NPR I heard an essay by a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He talked about his conversations with one of his best friends, after she returned from an anti-war protest. He observed that while he risks his life for his government and to help the afflicted people of Afghanistan and Iraq, he recognized that she risk incurring the wrath of the US Government. Both, however, believe they are doing what's right, and both deserve praise for that. And both should take a moment and an open mind to recognize the other.
I would praise Chirac for standing by his values, too, if I didn't have the distinct suspicion that he's not actually sticking to values. He's making a power play for France, for Europe (or at least a Europe led by France), purely for personal gain. This was shown most recently and most explicitly through his condescending and direct threats
to Eastern Europe
. Frankly, right now the honor and purity of heart is easier to see in those who are uniting, in the US and UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Eastern Europe. Not in France, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey.
As a disclaimer, it should be noted that I've traditionally valued the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan more than many. I recognize that they lean more towards the dangerous-levels-of-power than I should be comfortable with in a democratic government, but I view that as a flexibility of our democratic government to allow singular/elightened leadership when presented with it, and to rediverge the power when that leadership wanes.