Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Personal Aside: Jim Durkin and Charlie Johnston Score Well in Rivalry for their Favorite GOP Presidential Candidates Greenspan Wobbles in Clarification Because He is a Human Being, After All.
Durkin & Johnston.
State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Charlie Johnston, grassroots expert and columnist for The Chicago Daily Observer, made a good pair on my Sunday WLS-AM talk show and not because they got along all that famously. While having great respect for each other, they are enthusiastically backing different presidential candidates Durkin serving as Illinois chairman for the McCain for president committee and Charlie who has signed up as a delegate for Rudy Giuliani. They tussled without bitterness but with good ripostes: Durkin saying that Rudy had one memorable day, 9/11 when he acted the hero but McCain has had years in the harnessfive of them as a POW who turned aside offers to be freed because he was not first in line among the POWs. Charlie zeroed in on McCains prior sidings with liberal Democrats; I chimed in with a question on how a candidate like Giuliani in addition to his own personal imperfections has, in wife No. 3 the possible holder of the World Cup in spectacular marriages and living-together arrangements.
Wobbly Greenspan the Human Being.
The Washington Post giddy for a while with the thought that Alan Greenspan can be used against President Bush and the Republicans has been giving him great honorifics recently ever since his book came out which zings President Bush. So the prelude up to his earlier quotes was that Greenspan is a towering intellect, probably the most perspicacious economist of all time (oh come now: what about Milton Friedman?). But as the Post had to recognize yesterday, in the promotion for his book, the former Fed chief has been running off at the mouth in the same excitable way that a freshman congressman doespontificating about all manners of issues not within his ken and then having to back up and correct himself.
He started off saying, in words that brought thrills to the American Left and Paleo Right: the Iraq War is largely about oil. Now he is backtracking. I was not saying that thats the administrations motive, he clarified in an interview Saturday. He said that he himself had presented the White House with the case that removing Saddam Hussein was important for the global economy. Then he swings into complicated theological musings. I never heard them basically say, `weve got to protect the oil supplies of the world but that would have been my motive. Oh? So the weasel-worded Alan is now saying in effect two things: he believed the Iraq War was important because of oil and also it wasnt the bigger issue was Saddam Hussein. I wasnt argument for war per se, but to take [Hussein] out, in my judgment, it was something important for the West to do and essential One can deduce that taking Hussein out, if it was a bigger issue than oil, would be his possible possession of nuclear weapons and the disruption this would have on the economy. But as he bobs and weaves, he comes back to the issue of oil and you are forgiven if you conclude that yes indeed it was oil that was foremost in his mind. If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first Gulf War. And the second Gulf War is an extension of the first. My view is--.
Okay what is your view after all this muddy rhetoric, Alan? My view is that Saddam, looking over his 30-year history, very clearly was giving evidence of moving towards controlling the Straits of Hormuz, where there are 17, 18, 10 million barrels a day passing through. He added disruption of even from 3 to 4 million barrels a day could translate into oil prices as high as $120 a barrel (compared to recent high of $80 last week and loss of this would mean chaos to the global economy. Now get this. He summarizes: Im saying taking Saddam out was essentialbut adds he is not implying the war was an oil grab as the Left and U. S. paleos generally believe. . No-no-no! Riding the world of Hussein is a means of making certain that the existing system [of oil markets] continues to work, franklyh until we find other [energy supplies] whnich ultimately we will.
Therenow if that isnt clear, it isnt your fault. Greenspan supported the decision made by a neo-conservative president spoke a sensational headline-making statement to publicize his book and like a freshman congressman is backing down when the heat gets to him. Which means hes human, as much as The Washington Post dislikes to admit it.
For what its worth, Iand many other conservatives I knowdont believe for a moment that safeguarding our access to oil is worth the lives of a single American soldier. Nor do I and many others I know believe that taking out Saddam Hussein was worth American lives either. The only thing that the precious treasure of American lives is worth is to protect the peace and liberty of the United States. Bush believed as did every other government on the face of the earth that Iraq had access to weapons of mass destruction. That they did not and this is not a foregone certainty even now did not and does not vitiate his taking steps to protect the peace and liberty of the United States by striking at Iraq for that reason and as a harbor to terrorists. The greatest Middle East scholar, Bernard Lewis, points out that for the first time, the Islamic world has come to grips with the fact that the West has had a leader who will not shrink. To me it is marvelous knowing how malleable U. S. politicians are that this president has not yielded to pressure from the media the Democrats the Paleos in his own party who are in lockstep with the hard left MoveOn.org zealots. But if I believed we did it for solely oil, I would be disillusioned.
And also for what its worth, Iand almost every other conservative I knowagree with Greenspan on the hideous proclivity of the Bush administration to over-spend. No president is perfectnot is George W. Bush. The value of Greenspans book seems to be as I poured over it for nothing at Barnes & Noble that the real triumph for our system came not from Greenspan but capitalism itself.
His book is really an insightful delight because it says things meaningfully that a number of usbut not the Left nor the paleos of the Rightcomprehend. Neither Left nor Paleo Right would have had us engage the Soviet Union as we did during the long days of the Cold War and hysterical agents of both sides are as critical (but not vocal about it) of Reagan who won the Cold War as they are of George W. Bush. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the defining economic development for the world as Greenspan sees itwhen the failure of economic planning was evident for all to see. Any belief that Communism would have fallen by its own weight ignores the pressure that Reagan and others put on the tottering USSR system. The Left and the Paleo Right would not have put that pressure on because it would not have accepted for a moment that need to build Star Wars which ultimately led to the poker game play that won the stakes.
At bottom, Greenspan approaches but does not present a thesis as to why with our rising prosperity, our culture and learning has not progressed. Why was the top-rated radio show of 1939 Information Please where a panel of intellectuals Oscar Levant on music Clifton Fadiman on general knowledge critic John Kiernan and others vied in answering radio queries about the arts and history for $500 prizes compared with the disgusting and decadent top-rated shows of today like American Idol where amateur belly dancers vie to become multi-millionaire entertainment icons. The answer is as old as the New Testament: material success without a belief in God and the eternal verities cannot and will not elevate the human condition.