THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 407, February 25, 2007
"...Nihilistic self-righteous devotees of the Great Penguin."
We've Got Issues
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
We Americans have issues. Paramount among them seems to be the issues we have with facing our issues.
To illustrate a little of what I mean, let me tell you about a woman I know. This woman has entered into couples counseling in a last ditch effort to save her relationship with her husband. Although neither she nor I will pretend that she's completely blameless, it's entirely fair to say that the most significant problems to overcome are his. Despite the seriousness of his problems and the hurt she has suffered as a result, she has decided that she is willing to work to save the marriage in no small part because he does have redeeming qualities. He, on the other hand, has indicated a willingness to let her work at it.
The problem isn't that he refuses to address his problems. No, it's far worse than that. The problem is that he refuses to acknowledge that he has any problems. No matter the evidence offered, he denies it. When confronted, he handily redirects the conversation away from himself. When he's unable to do so, he becomes angry and refuses to discuss matters further at all. When all else fails, he's been known to resort to name calling.
His reactions sound very immature, probably because they are. When we're ten years old and confronted on the playground, we more often than not imitate Pee Wee Herman's "I know you are, but what am I?" style of defensive taunting. We've all done it, almost all of us see it as immature, and the vast majority of us take pride in having outgrown such behavior. But have we really?
I spend some time on an almost daily basis reading a popular conservative message board. I do this both because it's informative (often), and entertaining (usually). But there's an unfortunate trend there that reminds me of that playgroundand, unfortunately, those counseling sessionsI mentioned earlier.
When people post messages or questions having to do with Hillary Clinton, the outcry is almost immediate. Responses invariably include some or all of the following:
You can only imagine what some readers have to say when newly crowned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is pictured or discussed:
The all too public dispute between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell shows that people who post comments on the Internetwhere they're securely anonymous and can be more bluntly rude than they might be in a face-to-face scenarioaren't all that unique when it comes to deflecting any real issues at hand by using name calling instead:
Many of these accusations may or may not be true; none of them are particularly kind or mature. But by focusing on Hillary's legs or Rosie's alleged lack of talent, it makes it easier for everyone to dismiss the realand far more damaging in the long runissues at hand.
I have no idea whether or not Hillary Clinton is frigid (in fairness, I'd probably be frigid myself, at least where my husband was concerned, were I married to a serial cheater like Bill). But I do know that Hillary Clinton has strong socialist tendencies. Witness, for example, her plans for nationalized health care. Those plans, dismissed near the beginning of her husband's presidency, will be back stronger and more socialistic than ever if Senator Clinton is elected president in 2008. I can't speak for you, but fewer things leave me colder. (Want to really get the shivers? Think of what a second Clinton presidency would mean with Bill back in the White House and along for the ride!)
It could be that Hillary Clinton should spend a little more time on the treadmill. But what, pray tell, does that have to do with her flip-flopping viewpoint on such crucial issues as the war in Iraq? How could hefty legs possibly have any bearing whatsoever on her plans (or lack of them) to address border security or the national deficit?
If the stories out of the Clinton White House are true, then yes, Hillary Clinton isn't a very nice lady. And the evidence is broad indeed that she has an unpleasant speaking voice! But you don't have to like her to consider what she might do were she elected president, and you don't have to be soothed by her voice to make a point of listening toand actually hearingwhat she's saying.
I don't know any more about Nancy Pelosi as a person than I do about Hillary Clinton. I have no idea if she's had a bad faceliftor any kind of facelift for that matterand I don't care. Speaker Pelosi may or may not be an elitist who may or may not blink too much and too obviously (okay, she does blink too much and too obviously). But that has absolutely nothing to do with Speaker Pelosi's on-the-record voting history of being against some civil liberties (gun ownership, for example), and in favor of others that really aren't civil liberties at all (has Speaker Pelosi ever met a politically correct entitlement program or legislative mandate that she didn't like?).
Democrat critics have at least as much to say about President George W. Bush:
I've said and written any number critical things about President George W. Bush, but I've never called him stupid. That diminishes, in my mind, the intent behind some of his more objectionable acts, and these are things I do believe were committed with knowledge and intent. I believe he knew full well, and understood completely, the repercussions of the USA PATRIOT Act which goes well above and beyond extraordinary measures to fight the "war on terror." I think he endorses REAL ID because it gives the government more control over all of us rather than that it might give the government some dubious control over a few terrorists. I'm convinced he knows precisely the dangers to liberty inherent in the Military Tribunals Act, and I don't think he cares. In short, I think that knowledge and intent is crucial to any discussion of just whyor why notMr. Bush is a clear and present danger to freedom.
Another of those "stupid" things is the ongoing war in Iraq. While I do believe that that turned out to have been the wrong decision, it was wrong for reasons having absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the President cares about young men dying in the Middle East (for the record, the President has given every appearance of caring very deeply, but he's not letting that sway his choicesnor, frankly, should it). Meanwhile, accusing the President of blithely just letting soldiers die is an exceedingly convenient way to ignore the real issues behind the war (not least of which are new allegations that the Pentagon itself manipulated intelligence), the start of it, the lack of lasting success to date in it, and the complex reasons a sudden withdrawal from the region is also a really bad idea.
Did President Bush once partake in illegal drugs? Yes. I'd be willing to bet whatever you'd like, however, that a very significant number of people in his age bracket have. The fact of the matter is that he doesn't use drugs now, and that he quit using drugs before they did irreparable damage. These are actually bonus points for the presidentthey highlight willpower, the ability to recognize and then address flaws in himselfrather than insults. But when used as insults, the subsequent discussion (if it can be called that) conveniently masks more important issues.
Did the president overstep his bounds in authorizing domestic surveillance? Has George W. Bush gone too far with his myriad signing statements exempting his administration from various laws passed by Congress? Is President Bush actively working against national sovereignty and security by failing to secure our borders and advocating amnesty for illegal aliens? It doesn't matter! He used cocaine 30 years ago, dammit!
When news broke that former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith had died unexpectedly in a Florida hotel room, I was intrigued. But I'm an entertainment news geek. I see a lot of movies and I read a lot of entertainment-related material because it amuses me. I'm sure that some others feel the same way. As interested as I personally was, even I was taken aback that the story of Smith's death headlined CNN's coverage, was the subject of talk shows and news specials that very evening, and it led off the major television newscasts that night.
Didn't any bombs go off in Iraq that day? Wasn't there a drought or a riot anywhere? Among the other things that happened or were reported the same day that Anna Nicole Smith died are:
And these are just a few important domestic issues! What else happened around the world on February 8? I'm not sure. But I can tell you that Anna Nicole Smith died! (Breaking news the next daywith e-mail alerts and colored bands across TV and computer screens everywhereserved to tell us all that Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband might be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's five month-old daughter.)
We can complain all that we like about the problems this country has, and we can lament the fact that nobody (well, not many people, anyway) seems to be trying to fix them. But problems can't be fixed until we acknowledge that they exist, and it's tough to acknowledge that they exist when we're busy covering them up with far more frivolous matters.
My friend isn't going to save her relationship if she's the only one who's working on it, and she's going to be the only one until her husband gets past his defensiveness and knee-jerk misdirection to recognize he's got some issues himself. And we're not going to be able to address any of our government's myriad problems until we stop distracting ourselves with Hillary's legs, Nancy's eyes, or George's brains (or lack thereof). None of these things make people bad or good, nor do they make politicians bad or good. It's what they do and what they say that matters, and that's what we should be spending our time discussing and debatingand then taking action to correct as needed.
In the coming weeks and months, there will be lots of talk about who can win the presidency in 2008. Who has enough money? Who has enough charisma? Whose name recognition hits the top of the charts? There will be very little talk about who should win the presidency in 2008. Who has the experience and the innate ability? Who has the steadfast commitment to the Constitution? Who will stand with us for freedom and sovereignty, and fight with us against tyranny and terrorism? Instead, though, I fear the media will direct our focusand the politicians will help them do ittoward image consultants and public relations gaffes; toward campaign coffers and the most eloquent (or not) rhetoric.
Meanwhile, I'm looking past all that and leaning toward supporting Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) and Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO). They both actually seem to value this country and its history of liberty, and both seem inclined toward protecting it from outside influences and invasions. But if that's not enough for you, there's always this: Both men have thinner legs than Hillary Clinton does.