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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-09-01 - 12:55 p.m.

True Lies & False Grit

Last night Arnold Schwarzeneggar suggested the Democratic convention should have called itself "True Lies", the title of one of his first movies. That’s kind of what I was thinking about the Republican Convention in my Three-Card Monte reference in yesterday’s entry. True Lies and False Grit would be the perfect name for the Republican representation of their agenda in their convention.

Today Harold Meyerson in an editorial in the Washington Post today entitled False Grit sums it up rather well:

There is apparently not much to George W. Bush's presidency except his resolve.

Judging by the speeches of Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Republican convention's opening night, the president has no record whatever on matters economic, nor -- remarkably for a wartime president -- much of one when it comes to conducting the war in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

What the president does have is leadership -- pure, undiluted determination, a virtue that transcends such considerations as where exactly he is leading us. At other periods in our history, issues might matter, Giuliani noted, but "in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision."

Of course, the Bush campaign is fully aware that on a range of issues, Americans aren't wildly enthusiastic about where the president's resolve has taken us. By a narrow plurality, Americans would now prefer that he not have led us into Iraq. And nowhere has the president been more unwavering than in his disastrous commitment to tax cuts, which has held firm through surplus and deficits, peace and war, a weak economy and -- well, a weak economy.

“…for Giuliani to have waxed nostalgic about the post-Sept. 11 period of national unity in a speech extolling George W. Bush's leadership was industrial-strength chutzpah.”

Before I could even open my N. Y. Times e-mail this morning, my brother-in-law, Harold, sent me this Crowning Prince George editorial by Nicholas D. Kristof. He knew I’d be particularly interested, since we are avid theatre-goers and fans of the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, Oregon, where we have a vacation home.

I’m struck by the correlation Kristof draws between President Bush as Shakespeare’s Prince Hal, the hard-drinking, wild-living young man who sobers up, reforms and emerges as the great warrior (King Henry V). He suggests Mr. Bush might take some lessons from King Henry (and Shakespeare with his “world full of nuances and uncertainties.”)

He notes that leaders in Shakespeare usually self-destruct when they are too rigid and get too sure of themselves. He goes on to relate that often characters in the plays (and in real life, too) “put their faith in information that turns out to be catastrophically untrue,” and how kings get in trouble by relying on sycophants such as some he might find also in his administration. They all suffer from hubris, arrogance, and rash actions based on flawed information. He likens Mr. Bush to “Coriolanus, a well-meaning Roman general and aristocrat whose war against barbarians leads to an early victory but who then proves so inflexible and intemperate that tragedy befalls him and his people.”

“Unless Mr. Bush learns to see nuance and act less rashly, he will be the Coriolanus of our age; a strong and decisive leader, imbued with great talent and initially celebrated for his leadership in a crisis, who ultimately fails himself and his nation because of his rigidity, superficiality, and arrogance.”

Unlike Mr. Kristof, I don’t credit Mr. Bush with great talent or leadership (see first article - above). To lead effectively, one must first know where they are going. He promised he was a uniter not a divider at the last convention. He has failed miserably at that. And for a list of other failures, check out The Shameless Confessions of George Bush at the THEY KNEW’s blog. Not sure I agree wholeheartedly with all of her statements, which she jokingly attributes to George W. Bush, but there is a kernel of truth in many of them. Maybe just a bit over the top like Michael Moore, but worth a look-see. She’s also written a bit about an interview with Hannity.

Enough for today. Gotta go see what the talking heads are saying today about last night’s appearance of the twins. What DID you think?

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