Monday, July 14, 2008

Management and "Happy Talk" Is Benching the Eagle

Just another day. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Budweiser was sold to InBev, a European beer maker. NYC’s Chrysler Building is now totally owned by Arabs in Abu Dabi, and 20% of the NASDAQ is owned by Arabs in Dubai. Twenty years ago, news like this would have been a cause for an outright revolt against the government, but today such news hardly rates attention. I am firmly convinced that if the U.S.A. were somehow pushed back into the Stone Age, 30% of Americans would still proudly display a patriotic American flag on the wall of their cave and continue to bitch about the opposing political party.

I don’t think that the 2008 election will make any difference whatsoever in the state of the country. No matter who becomes the next president, eight years from now gas will be $7 dollars per gallon, sea level will be two feet higher, and U.S. troops will still be cannon fodder in Middle East garrisons. And American public education, healthcare coverage, and airline travel will still be the worst in the industrialized world, just like it is now.

To support my thesis about the irrelevance of the 2008 election, I offer one simple proof. Just look closely at all the political TV advertisements, and listen closely to what all the candidates are saying. All of them, including McCain and Obama, see themselves as a manager rather than a leader. They talk about their “plans” (what a joke) to solve the nation’s problems, but never ask for the shared sacrifice that will be needed to endure the unsolved problems once the plans fail. Lincoln didn’t try to manage his way through the American Civil War. He worked instead to prepare his people for the worst possible outcome, even as he hoped for the best. FDR, when faced with the Great Depression and World War II, did quite a lot of managing, but still found time to warn the American people that the road out of the quagmire would be difficult and fraught with peril. Neither Lincoln nor FDR relied exclusively on “happy talk.” But then, nobody ever accused any modern politician of being another Abraham Lincoln.

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