20 Juni 2006

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Lest any of you rush to judgment, labeling me yet another pointy-headed Bush-bashing liberal intellectual, know this: I voted for Reagan in 1984 and Bush the Elder in 1988. Despite the deluge of so-called "Gipperporn" two years ago, I still don't regret the first of these choices. Reagan had his faults, and his second term descended into sleaze, but I still believe that Reagan himself was a fundamentally decent human being, with leadership instincts and at least a modicum of substance. I don't subscribe to the conservatives' assertion--based on the recent publication of Reagan's voluminous lifelong correspondence--that the Gipper was a true intellectual. Yet he certainly harbored clear ideas and stood for some principles, like it or not. Bush the Elder, conversely, eventually revealed himself as something entirely different (a craven opportunist and faux-redneck) from what he had been originally (an establishmentarian Wall Streeter), and it was in 1992 that my own views, those of a conservative Gen-X voter, began to shift.

But as to Junior, well, there's another kettle of flounder. Inter alia I cannot grasp how a country of people still so enthralled by (or in thrall to) the Puritan work ethic that they brag constantly about how hard (vs. how well) they work can enthusiastically support a trust-fund lad who drank, snorted and idled until he reached forty. Raising this point is not a matter of polemics, but rather one of record. It's utterly unprecedented; we've elected scions (the Roosevelts, and perhaps JFK) and at least one complete drunk (Andrew Johnson), but never a reprobate scion. Think about it: say what you will about Clinton and Carter--or about Reagan, Nixon and even Bush the Elder--all of them genuinely worked hard as hell their whole adult lives and, yes, earned everything they got. And as for the Roosevelts and JFK, they lay under a great deal of familial pressure to perform. FDR had been a mediocrity, true, but a responsible one, and in any event as president he rose magnificently to the occasion, in marked contrast to what we see today.

As I develop this blog I will try to expound on my reasons, but so much has already been said that I wonder whether I can add much. So for now, we gaze at the counter and wonder what will happen. Should you feel tempted to despair, remember, Leningrad held out for 900 days, never capitulating, with a lifeline consisting of nothing more than a bridge across a frozen lake. Truly inspiring. Of course, about a million people died of infectious disease and sheer starvation, and by 1944 there wasn't a dog, cat, squirrel, chipmunk or rat anywhere to be seen.