I don't have anything as high in quality as those earlier essays -- about "The Choices We Face" and "Defending the Officer Corps." But there are a bunch of items I've stored up, that I'll offer below.
First, if you are - or know - a libertarian... or a Goldwater Conservative who is finally fed up with today's lost-cause GOP... do drop by www.reformTheLP.org and view the effort there, to turn that party into a new hope for practical believers in freedom and markets, rather than a bin for lapel-grabbing "oversimplifiers". (Putting a kind face on it.) They are republishing (after a good recent edit by me) one of my best serialized essays about basic political philosophy. Kind of heady stuff. But I do my patented "take a step back" number, quite a few times.
Let's start the potpourri with the most important article out there, this week.
The Worst President in History? by Prof. Sean Wilentz, in the Rolling Stone (Friday 21 April 2006). This Very well written analysis is a good history lesson to boot. A deeply dignified and scholarly look at the panoply of presidencies, including Polk, Buchanan and Clinton etc, comparing at many levels.
Snipped excerpts (but the whole thing really is essential):
“Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton - a category in which Bush is the only contestant.
“The lopsided decision of historians should give everyone pause. Contrary to popular stereotypes, historians are generally a cautious bunch. We assess the past from widely divergent points of view and are deeply concerned about being viewed as fair and accurate by our colleagues. When we make historical judgments, we are acting not as voters or even pundits, but as scholars who must evaluate all the evidence, good, bad or indifferent. Separate surveys, conducted by those perceived as conservatives as well as liberals, show remarkable unanimity about who the best and worst presidents have been.”
“And these figures were gathered before the debacles over Hurricane Katrina, Bush's role in the Valerie Plame leak affair and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq. Were the historians polled today, that figure would certainly be higher.”
The rest truly is an interesting and non-venomous, professorial set of fascinating evaluations and comparisons.
The losers weigh in - if only they communicated like this earlier:
* Worth a glance: the movie trailer for Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'
* A very thought provoking article by John Kerry... or by a really superier writer on his staff? Does it matter? Worth reading just for the ruthless efficiency of the prose.
Recall my appeal to the Officer Corps to save America from a Rovean "Octorber Surprise" contrived to win the November election by stoking fear? Well, Russell Redenbaugh - www.readingtheworld.com -- suggests that the “October Surprise” may not be something horrid loony-awful, like a US strike upon Iran, but the direct opposite... “By examining the structure of incentives, it becomes clear that this administration and the Iranian government each have an incentive to reach an agreement prior to the November election. From the administration’s point of view, the value of any agreement drops substantially after the elections. From Iran’s point of view, the willingness of our administration to take unpopular action increases after the election.”
At one level, of course, this would be great news. I have been urging rapprochement with Iran for years (though with the Iranian people, bypassing the jibbering loons who currently desperately cling to power there).
On the other hand, even a GOOD "surprise" could be dastardly. This is the sort of positive step that would be treasonous to delay many months for mere political purposes. Alas, it is also the kind that the members of our Intelligence Community might NOT choose to interfere with, as the actual effects (nonpolitical) are beneficial. (Unlike, say, an intemperate and rash bombing of Iran.)
I had not thought of this. That the administration might pull some autumnal surprise that’s sane and good. But as atypical as that would be, given their record, it does fit Rove’s penchant for political jiu jitsu. So, how best to prevent this sort of thing from swinging the election?
Talk it up, I guess. Talk up every good thing that you can imagine the administration doing, between now and November. Make every good thing our suggestion. And make clear that we will all be watching the timing. We will know if a good thing was delayed until October, for political effect.
Okay, now something both depressing and hilarious at the same time. I do not agree with absolutely everything at this site. Indeed, I am probably the biggest promoter of the idea of creating a Big Tent to welcome honest and decent conservatives into... as the only way to finally end “culture war.” We will all benefit much more by ending it than by waging it. Still, if you want to see it waged well, visit:
Finally, as you know, I do a lot of public speaking and corporate consulting. If your organization is seeking a top flight out-of-thebox stem-winder for a major event, have em drop by http://www.davidbrin.com/speaker.html Next eastward trip is to Boston, DC and NYC, end of June.
Thrive in hope.