Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Even a broken clock...

In my post "Can you think?" http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/10/can-you-think.html
I asked:

5) How often have you listened to two sides of an issue and concluded that you agreed with someone you disliked and disagreed with someone you liked?

Perhaps I should have added a variation on that: How often have you had to admit that a point you agreed with was being made in a way you found highly offensive?

See also "AYERheads" http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/12/aeyrheads.html
Symptom of the Achingly Earnest Young Radical #4: 4) It is a betrayal of the Truth to fail to state it in any but the most offensive way possible.

Gloria Steinem has gone and pissed a lot of people off and forced the Hillary campaign to disavow her.

Apparently she commented on John McCain's ordeal in a North Vietnamese prison in a flippant, offensive and utterly uncalled-for way, as not qualifying him for the presidency.

First let me say, I have no respect for Steinem at all. I have always found her to be an intellectual lightweight, incredibly pretentious, self-serving and more than just a bit phony.

Furthermore, though I do not agree with McCain's politics and find him to be self-rightious and rather full of himself, I have the highest respect for his courage, fortitude and honor. (In the military context, I don't much respect some of the things he's done in the political arena - that's where the self-rightious thing comes in.)

So it pains me to say it, but Steinem's right.

Some years ago, during a time when one of the current slogans was "You're old enought to die for your country but not old enough to vote," John W. Campbell* pointed out that the virtues required for these two functions were different, and not much related.

Leadership on the highest levels requires mature judgement, something not often found in young men. Which is why young soldiers are put under the direction of old sergeants.

Surviving captivity and torture require courage, fortitude, stubborness and... virtues I cannot guess and hope never to have to.

But they are not necessarily congruent with the qualities of a civilian leader, which may be why we don't often see successful military men become successful statesmen.**

Hillary could have responded calmly and rationally, denouncing Stenem's rudeness while affirming the point in a dignified and respectful way. And that would have been a sign of good leadership qualities.

But that didn't happen. We don't have any candidate that is leadership material, period.

We'll be OK though. I hope.

"A strong people need no leaders." - Emiliano Zapata

(Of course, look what happen to him - and Mexico.)

*Editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine for decades and more than any other man, creator of modern SF.

**At the founding of our country we got lucky in having George Washington, who was competent at both. If it had been otherwise...

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  • At 4:45 PM, Blogger Brian Dunbar said…

    which may be why we don't often see successful military men become successful statesmen.**

    At risk of being branded a nit-picker ..

    George Washington, Andy Jackson, US Grant (hmm), Eisenhower. Plus some others whom I can't think of at the moment.

    Grant and Jackson. Not sure if this proves or disproves your statement.

  • At 4:50 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    My limited knowledge of Grant's presidency gives me the impression of an honest man surrounded by scoundrels he didn't know how to deal with.

    Jackson... if you're an Indian, Jackson comes off like Hitler.

    How many people remember that the Cherokee took their case to the Supreme Court and won?

    Jackson replied, "Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it."

    And it's off on the Trail of Tears for the Five Civilized Tribes. At the end of which, more Indians had died than in all of the Indian wars combined.

    Eisenhower? Not sure.

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Ken said…

    I would have to say that I also agree that being in combat or held hostage does not in itself make you qualified to be president. However it seems to me that Gloria does a bit more than just state that. She continues with “I am so grateful that she [Clinton] hasn’t been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn’t even play war games as a kid. It’s a great relief from Bush in his jump suit and from Kerry saluting.” This could be taken as meaning having served is actually a negative quality for president. I would disagree with that statement as well. I should point out that I have not seen a full transcript of what she said and that quoted sentences often do not follow the full train of thought so I usually try to give some benefit of doubt in these cases.

    Also, there had been a lot of talk about, "only people who’d seen the horrors of war could appreciate the human cost of sending men into battle." Though this is also not a statement I agree with, some of the things I've read have used McCain's past as to say, "You can't get him on that one."

    Just remember, your past is forgivable and helpful if they like you; unforgivable and a detriment if they don't. Oh, they'll also change whether they like you or not at a drop of a hat.

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Steinem has in her mag, espoused stuff that ranges from nutty to horrifying, of which I think I'll have an anecdote or two later.

  • At 7:02 PM, Blogger Paardestaart said…

    A stong people doesn't need a leader

    True - but you dó need a leader in wartime..Imagine what would have happened if there had not been a Churchill, although I'm afraid that men like him would not stand a chance in this hysterical day and age


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