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Monday, March 10, 2008




Following this presidential race can have adverse effects on one's appetite. That might be good; perhaps by November I'll have shrunk to the weight the doctors say I should be. Thing is, I choose to be stupid and follow the path of personal health self-destruction. While not a consumer of alcohol or drugs, I do adhere to Oscar Wilde's quote that "I can resist anything but temptation."

So imagine my consternation when I read this piece in the NEW YORKER, THE IRON LADY by Ryan LIzza. True, the article is certainly not complimentary of Senator Clinton, but one part sticks out there all by itself. It was uttered by Senator Clinton during an "economic summit" during the campaign for the Ohio primary. It took place in Zanesville.
It was as if the sheer display of iron-pantsed discussion would further underscore her insistent theme: the hollowness of Obama’s charisma. When one speaker offered encomiums to Clinton rather than economic prescriptions, she gently reprimanded her, saying, “We’re going to put a moratorium on compliments.” Then, with the bonhomie of a high-school health teacher, she turned the conversation back toward government programs to help people “quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins.”

Is Ryan Lizza making this up? The comment is apparently not "newsworthy" because it doesn't have "substance." In the modern media glossary, "substance" is defined as that which can cause the greatest amount of childish interest within the political sandbox. It should be looked at further, and since the big boys and girls won't touch it, I will.

Many moons ago I read Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience." 19th century English can be a handful to read, and Thoreau's prose adds to the challenge. But, what I gathered from his writing is that the individual is paramount. That is the acme of Western thinking. The government, or state, is secondary to the individual. In fact, our Constitution goes to some lengths in the Bill of Rights to expressly underline that notion.

When the state becomes the oppressor instead of the protector, then the individual has a choice: either submit or not. Submission is always less painful; at least in the short term. However, over time individuality will seek to assert itself no matter what the state says. What Thoreau wrote was studied by Gandhi and Martin Luther King. All three men were philosophers, pains in the backside to those who prefer people not to think. Thinking is painful, after all, and the struggle to maintain individuality in a politically correct word is an agony.

When Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945, a contemporary writer gave a good description of FDR as a leader. He was America's bus driver. With a grin and his cigarett holder at a jaunty angle, Roosevelt steered the country down some dangerous road and heart-stopping curves. Sometimes it was scary, but everyone knew that while he was in the driver's seat, he never stopped listening to the passengers.

That is apt, because we, the passengers on the national bus, are the sovereigns of this republic. Plain, simple citizens are the ultimate rulers of the nation. The past seven years there hasn't been a bus; we've had a spoiled brat in a soapbox derby car (that his daddy built) rolling downhill. And we've been expected to keep up with him while dragging bags of cement behind us.

And now....well, it looks like one candidate (or possibly all three right now) foresees her role as a herder; someone to herd those wayward souls who just don't get it. What I don't get is why the power of government has to be used to further a collective goal at the expense of the individual. The context within which I am speaking relates to personal behavior only. If the state declares that an individual's right to abortion, or sexual preferences, or religious preferences. THAT I can understand, as it is in the direction of government staying out of an individual's decisions. It does not matter whether I personally agree or not; the key point is that the individual is, again, to be protected by the state. No matter how stupid they are.

But smoking? Exercise? Eating habits? Vitamins? If this is the epitome of 220 years of a constitutional republic, then it is sad and disheartening.

We need another bus driver. And there ain't no room on the bus for a throne.
Cross-posted at

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