Friday, June 20, 2008

A Bittersweet Lesson for Liberals

(NY Post)

With news of Obama's withdrawal from public financing, Thursday and Friday have been treated to a slew of articles about broken promises and hypocrisy. Allegedly, Obama has turned on his word. This obviously proves (insert self-righteous commentary). In the end, the pundits all know the same thing. Obama's decision to withdraw from public financing was the wisest move, one that lofty liberals and delusional conservatives will undoubtedly condemn. And condemnation has become the expected, yet desperate effort of the GOP, a last breath struggle to name their assailant. For many starry-eyed supporters of Obama, this news is disheartening and may effectively break their hearts. But for realistic progressives, as David Brooks has said this morning in the NY Times, we are witnessing the "most effectively political creature we've seen in decades." And for anyone that has seen the film "The War Room," a certain comfort is brought on this day. The Democratic Party has a winner. They have a fighter. Obama has proven he is tough enough to make the decisions which must be made, even if they break our heart. A political theorist by the name of Max Weber gave a lecture titled "Politics as a Vocation." He spoke to a crowd of young academics aspiring for a role in politics. And almost a century after his lecture, the reality remains the same. Those who choose a life in politics, especially at the highest levels, must be willing to make tough decisions that are ethically questionable. Some of these choices will make you sick to your stomach. But in a nasty world, these decisions must be made. Often we are faced with multiple options that all have their particular weaknesses, with none possessing the mystical quality of being perfect for everyone. Presidents have made these decisions, by and large. When FDR placed thousands of Japanese Americans in camps, he could not have felt pleasure in what he did. Today, liberals have learned a valuable lesson. The office of the President is not for a fool-hearted softy. Ultimately, politics is not about objective matters like right and wrong, good and bad. The verdict is not in on many of the issues. Politics is about interests. Barack Obama has certain values, certain changes he wishes to see in the world. The same is held for most every statesman. John McCain and George W. Bush, like them or not, have interests. There are particular things that they stand for, that they would like to see done. With this in mind, the pundits may continue to cry, generating an unrealistic, inflated sense of reality. But the American people, especially feel-good liberals, need to wake up and understand that at the end of the day, what they are really fighting for are their interests.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Red, White, and Orange

(Webshots) VIET-R-ANS
Many of you have undoubtedly heard the statistic that 1 in 4 homeless are veterans, a fact that presidential candidate John Edwards never failed to remind us this election season. 47% of these homeless veterans served during the Vietnam War. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking with a veteran at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. He had found a good place to share his knowledge and personal experience. After helping find a name on the wall, he shared with me his personal story. So he began...Over 30 years ago, he fought in Vietnam, where he believes he was contaminated by Agent Orange. He has been living on the streets for the past year. The homeless shelter where he sleeps requires that he is gone until 10pm and must leave before 6am. At the moment, he is waiting months for his medical case to be processed through the VA. But his wait is not abnormal. Many others, some who live with him at the homeless shelter, have complications from Vietnam due to Agent Orange. They live on the streets, often with little prospect of ever finding a job, proper medical care, or a permanent place to stay. The question I had to ask myself is: what is our duty to our fellow Americans? The answer is not simple. The policies needed to solve such problems are never simple. There may be no perfect answer. But I am sure we can all discover some much needed insight by reaching out and speaking with our homeless veterans, hearing their stories, and then deciding for ourselves what measures must be taken by the President and Congress we elect in November.