Monday, October 20, 2008

Personal Asides: The Cross-Eyes Continue. Irrelevant “Tribune” Endorses Obama…And Colin Powell. The Soldier’s Revenge.



Sam (“You Made the Pants Too Long”) Zell’s Red Eye makeover has just endorsed Obama and they dutifully sent editorial page editor R. Bruce Dold to the Land of Nod (“Chicago Week in Review”) on WTTW where cross-eyed Joel Weisman (so Democrat he can’t see straight) conducts an orchestra of mostly pro-Obama sea-lions leaping to catch tossed fish.

Not that the “Trib” endorsement is news: the paper’s longstanding pro-Obama “news” coverage has been a tip-off. Still, Dold is not cross-eyed; he’s straight, well-intentioned, a Republican basically but county club, very. Which also means he is a corporate maven to the soles of his shoes and does what he’s told. His editorial “board” is all cross-eyed and a wonderful band of gargoyles they are. Including one nihilist named Stephen Chapman whom they say is a libertarian they picked up at a fire sale from “The New Republic.” Chapman is nothing of the sort but an old fashioned leftist who doesn’t believe anything is worth fighting…much less dying…for. Then there’s their cross-eyed race specialist hired to inform guilt-ridden chalky Winnetka types how it feels to be black, Clarence Page (now who do you think HE favors for president?)

Now one reason they endorse Obama is Sarah Palin because her resume is so slight—with no reference to the fact that next to Obama’s dinky credentials her experience as a governor of a major state, oil and gas commissioner who negotiated with industry, is filled to overflowing. The real reason is …gasp…pro-life which Dold knows full well is why he was told to object objects to notwithstanding he’s a Catholic is that Palin is pro-life which is anathema to the Tower. But that doesn’t bother Dold. Give Dold a script and he’ll keep a reasonably straight face as he sells. Another reason they endorse Obama: the savvy Obama economic team. V-e-r-y impressive. Forget the ideas Obama has advanced. Forget the fact that a recession is the worst period to clamp on a tax hike, forget that Obama’s plan to hike taxes on corporations ignores that RIGHT NOW the rate of 35% is second highest in the world, that 663,000 small businesses that pay taxes vis-à-vis the top rate and major generators of U.S. jobs. Nope. This doesn’t interest the “Trib,” the supposed pro-business paper.

What impresses them is the list of economists Obama has recruited, not the ideas. You know…the TEAM.

The real reason is marketing the newspaper to avoid the oncoming disaster for it—nothing to do with the U. S. Nor ideas. The marketing angle is skewed to what the target: the affluent (or what used to be) upper middle. Pure business decision. Country, ideals, ideas, issues have nothing to do with it. That comes right down from the top, from the stubby little guy with the goutee, fringe haircut, eyes like slits, a dead ringer for the portrait of Lucifer on the old wooden match boxes . Yes, that guy, the swaggering egomaniac with the sulfurous language who uses the “f” word to subordinates…the tough little guy,—yes that one: the one who drives the motorcycle—the Sam who made the pants too long.

Actually the time has come when no one cares who Dold is or what the “Trib” believes today because they can’t find the editorial page anyhow in this ceaselessly ponderous USA Today look-alike that leaves ink smudges on your hands. That’s bad news for Dold, who has slaved so obediently to follow Sulfurous Sam’s marketing edict. He’s had to backtrack from a standard of once cock-sure editorials that take stands to the old evasive eras…pro-con and then a shrug “who knows?” For a time there Dold was actually turning out an acceptable editorial product. He’s back to the old time “stay tuned” and “time will tell.” He will certainly be the last editorial age editor in the paper’s headlong rush to the bottom. My guess: the “Sun-Times” will beat them but my wish is the “Trib” would fold up first. It would serve Little Lucifer his just desserts. The way they goofed up the makeover…a case of a mountain groaning and a mouse runs forth… makes me think my wish will come true.

Example: the worst-hit by this deadly makeover has got to be Eric Zorn…not cross-eyed, definitely liberal but with an independent mien who used to be the entrée to the Metro section and who now is cast adrift God knows where in the morass of the inky mélange The interesting thing is that what makes a paper worthy to be advertised in…picked up on the newsstand…and delivered to your doorstep…is known as “character.” That the “Tribune” had…long ago bartered away by the very first of Col. McCormick’s unworthy successors, Clayton Kirkpatrick. When the paper STOOD for something in the field of ideas it was fun to pick it up. Now it is every bit a throwaway as the “Sun-Times.”

When Sulfurous Sam hears the word “character” he reaches for his revolver—or turns on his motorcycle ignition. He distrusts anything to do with the word. Just remember, Dold is the one they tell to write the editorials but he has some residual character. Nobody else has. It’s sulfurous Sam, the son of refugees, who decided quite on the spur that Obama won’t…can’t…do much to hurt Israel so let’s go with him and look good since he’s going to win anyhow.

Anyway, what the hell. Let Israel take care of itself; we got my newspaper to shore up and to do it we got to get Kenilworth thinking like Kenwood that we’re with them in relevancy. With that, a hop on the cycle, a kick start and WWWWWWWRRROOOOM! Tie-less in Gaza.

The Soldier’s Revenge.

In the interim between serving Richard Nixon as HEW secretary and returning to Washington as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of defense, Cap Weinberger was a board member and an influential one of The Quaker Oats Company whom most fellow board members stayed in touch during his retirement, until his death two years ago. He was a guest several times on my radio show promoting books he had written.

When history is complete, it will be told that there was a hawk on the Reagan cabinet and a dove. Both once worked for Bechtel. The hawk was the secretary of state, George Shultz. The dove was Cap Weinberger. The dove was something…not quite…like George McClellan. He spent billions building up the armed services but dawdled at the brink many times and almost always…unless he was overruled…opted for peace. The hawk was a Ph.D, an ex-Marine who had been dean of the U of C business school who was not skittish about calling for use of the military. Both fought inside the tent like animals. Weinberger set out the rules the country should follow for engagement that required total and complete support of the populace for war. Shultz argued…realistically…that the post-Vietnam syndrome in the country—and a lessening of the old indomitable will—meant that there are very few times when a populace would support a war. In other words, the last fully supported war—World War II—would not return, Shultz said, so we have to face it. There will be times when the president will have to act and risk the consequences.

Reagan got burned in Lebanon when he sent Marines there and a good number were killed by insurgent terrorists when they bombed the Marine barracks. He withdrew them. He was always a good deal closer to Weinberger anyhow—basis the fact that Cap was his state commissioner of finance in California and steered him safely over many rocky shoals. Thereupon Reagan with Cap’s help turned the Teddy Roosevelt theory on its head. TR said “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Reagan spoke loudly, toughly but didn’t do all that much in the combat department. This “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” resonated but Reagan triumphed by convincing the USSR it couldn’t compete with us.

Weinberger was the guy who saw the value in Colin Powell starting from the time Powell served in a White House fellowship during the Nixon days when Cap was OMB director and HEW secretary. Despite the fact that Powell was severely downgraded by his officer at Fort Carson, Colo., Gen. John W. Hudacheck who said he was a poor leader who should not be promoted, Weinberger made Powell his senior military assistant during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 air-strike on Libya and pushed him ahead quickly. Weinberger wanted an ally as national security adviser and in 1987 he got his favorite, Powell, named to the post at age of 49.

Skipping ahead, after he served as chairman of the joint chiefs under George H. W. Bush (and Bill Clinton), Weinberger convinced George W. Bush that he’d be a great asset as secretary of state designate during the 2000 campaign. Dick Cheney didn’t think so since he felt he saw Powell flinch in the first Gulf War—but saw the utility in a popular black having great p. r. value in the campaign as a potential secretary of state. In the run-up to the Iraq War, Powell was the odd person out: Weinberger of course was retired and there were few who echoed his old restraint, although Dick Armitage, Powell’s deputy, did. The new national security aide to Bush II, Condoleezza Rice, was more aligned to the hawkish Dick Cheney and Bush than to her old associations. Don Rumsfeld the secretary of defense was not greatly interested in following Powell’s lead given that Powell had blocked Rumsfeld with Reagan and Bush I.

There is no doubt that Colin Powell could have had almost anything he wanted from the Republicans. He had much to give them: a glittering resume, the priceless asset of blackness for a party that had no major black adherents. But he felt he had made sufficient concessions serving with conservatives and that if he made further he would compromise his manhood. His black friends put the pressure on him and so during the months when Powell was being considered for veep, Powell made it clear he was still a bona-fide “black man” in the popular, liberal sense of the word: meaning pro-affirmative action (after all, he was a product of it, was he not?), pro-abortion rights, pro-activist Supreme Court nominations. By so doing he ended his career before it began as a candidate.

All the while, the Bush people made Powell useful by force-feeding him to support their view of the Iraq War—a view with which I personally approve. Powell was a good soldier but his reputation took a heavy hit after the WMD debacle and he was loath to defend the War much. He left after the first term and vowed to get even. He maxxed out to John McCain in 2007 to show Bush his displeasure, he saw that at a certain point Bush and McCain would get together. He determined to show his black manhood in 2008 by standing up to his former white bosses and endorsing Barack Obama.

He not only endorsed Obama he leveled some serious charges at the Republican party. He helped Obama by savaging McCain on a key element of McCain’s campaign—Obama’s radical associations. He struck at Republican nominations to the court. It is noteworthy that Powell savaged Republicans for appointments, the same ones who named him national security adviser, chairman of the joint chiefs, secretary of state—and who made his son Michael chairman of the FCC.

At bottom, Powell was a young man on the make who allowed himself to be helped by a conservative secretary of defense who upped him to senior status and saw that he got 4 stars, a top White House appointment and chief of staff. But wilting from pressure of his friends that he was an Uncle Tom sell-out, he refused to make any concessions to ideology which would have given him a certain boost for veep. Then when his Republican patrons used him as a front for selling the war on Iraq, Powell the malleable went along and took the heat. Essentially a very weak position. If Powell opposed the Iraq War initially he should have resigned—the honorable thing to do. He chose not to. But he got even.

He got even yesterday on “Meet the Press.” But for all of it, for a man from Harlem who made his way in the dog-eat-dog world of military and politics, he came out very well. From receiving a bad report for lack of leadership and with a very-very sparse combat record he emerges top dog in national security in the White House, a 4-star and chairman of the joint chiefs, then secretary of state. He suffered a few scars as secretary of state because he wasn’t tough enough to either resist his superiors or strong enough to quit his post. But he got even. He screwed the Republicans in the end.

And if…as appears likely…Obama gets in, Powell, 71, might have even more opportunities in the future to get even with those Republicans who had promoted him affirmative action-style. In a sense it’s the old story with many blacks who came up in the 1970s:

The more whitey does for blacks out of noblesse oblige is simply selfish-- to make whitey feel good about himself. The hell with that. Whitey will have to pay for his liberalism feel-good stuff.


  1. Who doesn't fit in?

    Ulysses S. Grant
    Thomas J. Jackson
    George S. Patton, Jr.
    Colin Powell
    H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
    Davis Patreaus

  2. elizabeth alexanderOctober 21, 2008 at 2:57 AM

    Careful Your racism came through loud and clear.