Monday, June 04, 2007

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors

Venturing where I said I would not go. I just added "Politics" as a category. It only took a little over a year for that to happen. You can fast forward to the next post if you wish (oh, right, there is not a "next post" yet...but there will be shortly).

This post is an expansion of what was going to be a comment in response to Darko’s comment on my last post. I’m low on blog fodder these days so I might as well open myself up to public ridicule and humiliation. I really don’t have a whole lot more to say on this subject, nor do I wish to debate it. I consider Darko to be a friend, so this is not at all intended to start a fight. And I don’t kid myself into believing that I can change anyone’s opinion, but to be silent only suggests that either a) I support the opinion expressed, or b) I find it so offensive as to not warrant a response. And since neither of those is true, here is my response.

For the record, here was Darko’s comment:

“I'm not capable of stating politely the differences between our last two presidents' x-rated actions except to state, and the facts will bear me correctly, that where the previous 2-termer's actions affected one person, the current 2-termer affected us all.

When it comes to doing the nasty thing in life, I'll almost always side with the singular action as opposed to the multiple. I thought Life (Yes, the Big "L") is always more important.

And, for the record, I don't think Dubya's dad did such a bad job, probably because he was quite capable of thinking clearly by himself.”

First, I do not believe that Clinton's actions affected only one life (or even “only” several lives since he did have numerous affairs). At a bare minimum, his actions directly and irreparably affected the lives of each of those women, his wife, and worst of all, his daughter. But, as the leader of the free world, his behavior served as a role model to many, maybe even as many as 6 ½ billion people (though granted, many of them don’t have televisions or newspapers)! Tolerance of this sort of behavior, especially from our leaders, has a long-term and profound impact on all of us. If we as a society lose our moral compass, we lose much, much more. In fact, I don’t think it’s too extreme to venture that we ultimately lose everything.

Second, while I respect your opinion and your right to it, I don't share the belief that any of Dubya's actions have been "x-rated.” I assume that you are referring to the war in Iraq. If not, I’m sure you’ll correct me or add to the list. I know you’re not alone in your opinion of the current administration, but I believe that when war was declared on the U.S. on 9/11/01, we had no choice but to stand up and defend our country against terrorists that preach hatred to their young. And that hatred, I might add, is at least in part directed at the sort of morally reprehensible behavior that was demonstrated by our former leader. If I truly believed that this war was really just about protecting “our” oil interests and nothing more, then I might also believe that thousands of lives are being lost over greed. I pray that is not the case.

I also believe that if we go into a country and rip out its existing government and do nothing to help rebuild that country, it is more likely than not that any successor who manages to rise up out of the destruction will be another tyrannical dictator, possibly worse than the previous one. I don’t need to explain why this would be very bad. And if we then find ourselves in the midst of a civil war, don’t we have an obligation to stay and help fix what we (in part) started? When Clinton took U.S. troops into Kosovo where we had no economic interests, was he not entering into a civil war where we had no business? The only difference there in terms of lost lives was that we had more than enough fire power to squelch that “situation” pretty quickly. By the way, unlike many conservatives, I thought our involvement in former Yugoslavia was long overdue…I know we can’t be Big Brother to everybody, but when you know people personally who are dying to free themselves from oppression, your perspective changes. And when you (as a country) have the resources to stop it, you can’t just sit idly by and watch entire countries implode.

I suppose I could add that if Dubya can’t think clearly for himself (your indirect suggestion), then nothing is his fault. But I won't.

In conclusion, I think we agree that Life is always more important.

Next up…how I spent my weekend straightening up my sock drawer.



At 7:54 AM, June 04, 2007, Blogger beth said...

Hear, hear. Well put.

At 12:07 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger Emma Sometimes said...

oooh, I wanna be like you when I grow up.

(stands and applauds)

At 12:07 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger DarkoV said...

Hey Gwynne,
I do consider ourselves as friends and, hopefully, friends that can have differing opinions. I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable, like yourself, getting into this political/moral discussion without the benefit of observing each other’s body language. I’ve found the latter quite the important thing when discussing matters falling into the always dangerous seas of Politics, Religion, Sexuality, and Morality. Many a conversation has floundered and/or sank in these rough waters, so I’m not quite sure where this little ship of a comment will end up. Perhaps down in Davy Jones’ Locker with Mr. Depp.

It’s always been difficult separating the Four Seas mentioned above. Their waters intermingle to the point that one is not sure in which sea one is plying one’s point.

So, with that in mind, let me launch my sloop and hope that I can carefully navigate through the waters. In my original comment, which you quoted above, simplification was the guiding principle over the alternative choice of a long winded breakdown of the affects of the current and the previous two-termer. As role models I have a strict self-imposed edict to choose only people that I know fairly well, so neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Clinton (nor, as a continuation any politician) would be folks I’d have up there as people to admire and follow. There is simply too much we know and too little we do know about these two politicians that as guideposts of life, they come up fairly invisible to me. The visible iceberg of information we do have is over-publicized and over-emphasized while the 9/10’s we don’t know is minimized. Basically, as people they are more caricatures than flesh and blood. What this translates to, in my mind at least, is the need to minimize the personal from the political.

Did Clinton pull off a morally reprehensible stunt with the whole Levinsky affair? Did his actions hurt his family, specifically his daughter as you pointed out so well? Yes and Yes.
Did that behavior, as you stated, precipitate terrorist acts against us “at least in part directed at the sort of morally reprehensible behavior by our former leader”? That’s a bit much for me to swallow. I’d say Bin Laden was probably still quite ticked at Clinton and the USA for launching those cruise missles at him and his followers in Afghanistan after al-Qaeda had bombed our embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, even those launchings were entirely warranted, IMHO. I would say that you and I split here as the sexual/moral dilemma of Clinton’s two terms was, again IMHO, blown completely out of proportion. Reading the foreign press on that situation was a darkly humorous time-waster; a uniquely American thing to be taking up so much time and newspaper and TV time. I am not excusing Mr. Clinton for his behavior. Neither am I excusing our fine Congress of wasting our time and dollars sifting through Ms. Lewinsky’s blue dress.

When 9/11 occurred, I, like the majority of the Nation was stunned at both the audacity and the effectiveness of the terrorist attack. My first reaction was that a quick, strong, deadly message in the form of a rapid military strike was necessary. I supported and still support the military action against the Taliban government in Afghanistan. It was and still is a justifiable course of action.

Iraq, on the other hand, was a country I thought should not have been attacked. Again, as I stated in my previous comment, the first Bush Iraq war was completely justified. At the time of the 1st Gulf War, I didn’t understand why #41 halted our advance onto Baghdad when we had a chance to “clean up the mess”. Later, upon reading some of the intelligence and the explanations, I understood why. It would simply have been a fiasco trying to get the country of Iraq, an unnaturally delineated political formation, back together again. #41 saw Iraq for what it was, Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall waiting for someone to bump it off its perch. There was never any clear proof of a tie-in with al-Qaeda nor with the terrorists of 9/11. Egypt and Saudi Arabia had a stronger tie-in to the self-immolating idiots commandeering the planes than Iraq did.

And yet, we as a nation were coldly and deliberately lied to by the administration and by #42 himself. The result is a commitment of troops, firepower, and money in a country that we truly have not a ghost of a chance in putting back together again. You know where the death toll is now. From a personal standpoint, I know families that have lost sons in Iraq, so my confusion and my anger come from less than 2 degrees of separation.
How much of this loss of life, of our country’s prestige, of our country’s wealth have been to lies? At this point, certifiable lies.
Is it easier to see Clinton’s lies and moral issues and be angry with him because it is one person who’s done the nasty deed?
Is it harder to be angry and appalled with the disaster that is Iraq due to lies and egos and the lack of ability to admit mistakes because it is Mr. Bush being enveloped in the cloak of the edifice of Administration?
I guess the answer to those two questions comes back to what I’d alluded to before. Which lie(s) precipitated death?

Gwynne, I understand (I think) where you’re coming from as regards Clinton and his actions. I am not excusing his moral judgment in any way. But wasn’t his action one that would be classified as personal? What of previous presidents’ similar mis-steps? FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, even possibly Dubya’s dad. Each of these previous presidents is viewed in very admirable ways these days. I wouldn’t say they are role models for us, the general public, to hold up for ourselves. But, within the unbelievably complicated intricacy of a Presidency, I’d say they would make fine models, overall. I truly believe that Mr. Clinton still has quite a lot of the 6 ½ billion people out there in the world around us who admire him; I’d be lying if I said the same thing about our current Mr. Bush.

Darn, I wish life was as easy to get into order as a sock drawer. Seriously.

At 7:43 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger Gwynne said...

Whoa, Darko!! I appreciate the time you spent providing such a comprehensive response and I even agree with some of it. ;-) I've printed it off (nearly one and a half pages, single spaced!) to share with my publicist and will be back shortly with a carefully reasoned (or at least "A") response.

I do consider ourselves as friends and, hopefully, friends that can have differing opinions.

We've already established that we disagree on far more important matters such as Rory Block and Keb' Mo' so this should not prove to be a big stumbling block. ;-)

At 8:31 PM, June 04, 2007, Blogger DarkoV said...

If an Internet hug & kiss on the cheek were possible, you'd certainly be a recipient from this side of the Atlantic.

Please don't OVERread into the bloated comment.


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