Sunday, August 31, 2008



Robert Parry has a piece on Truthout (originally on Consortium News) entitled “How the Republicans Win”.

It struck me very hard because of a by-the-by historical vignette. In order to ensure that he would not be ‘cheated’ out of the Presidency in ’68 as he thought he had been in ’60, in the autumn of ’68 Nixon actually sent secret messages to the South Vietnamese delegates to the Paris Peace Talks, wheedling and threatening so that they would not come to an accord with the North Vietnamese before the elections in November. And they didn’t, pulling out precipitously and thus depriving LBJ and the Democrats of a desperately-needed platinum opportunity to bring the war to some sort of respectable conclusion in time for the elections.

But what hit me was LBJ’s and the Democrats’ response to Nixon’s treachery (which itself rises, possibly, to the treasonous): quoting from Anthony Summers’s book ‘The Arrogance of Power’, Parry reports that “Both Johnson and Humphrey believed the information – if released to the public – could assure Nixon’s defeat”. Quite possibly so.

He goes on: “In the end though, Johnson’s advisers decided that it was too late and too potentially damaging to U.S. interests to uncover what had been going on” and that “If Nixon should emerge as the victor [of the ’68 election] what would [this secret messaging] do to his viability as an incoming president?”

To all of the citizenry who have joined Us somewhat after ’68, this may come as a shock – and understandably so. That it was once part of the major priorities of a senior elected official in these United States to give serious thought as to the national common weal and to the integrity of the office that he holds, regardless of who wins in an upcoming election. Say what you will of LBJ, and I am not seeking to canonize him here, but they don’t do things like that anymore; they don’t make’em like that anymore.

Well – no. We do still make’em like that – but those folks don’t get very far up the ladder in the Beltway as it operates nowadays.

And to top it all off, “Johnson and Humphrey went into retirement – and to their graves – keeping silent about Nixon’s treachery”. Nah – things have reely reely changed around here.

And not for the better.

I’ve been toying with this in previous Posts but let me say it here: We have lost ground in the last 40 years, in a most fundamental and essential and vital way; in fact, along an entire spectrum of characteristics and capacities indispensable to the sustaining of a democratic politics and of a democratic polity and so of the Republic.

Cognitively, We no longer process information in a reasonable and adult fashion. Simplistic thinking, slogans and clichés, substitute for patience and insight and a true engagement with the substance of the challenges that face Us.

Emotionally, We no longer possess Ourselves in dignity and patience, conserving Our energies until We are more or less arrived at a conclusion of substantive analysis and deliberation. A quick ‘decision’ is considered a day’s work.

Societally, We no longer respect each other and trust each other. I’m not just talking here about the overriding acrimonies that have blotted out any effective sense of a common identity as ‘American’; I’m also talking about the dynamic downward spiral into fear and mistrust that must flow naturally from an increasingly wide descent into cognitive and emotional regression and immaturity.

Morally, there is no longer a common basis for mutual trust and respect. Postmodern and deconstructionist thought, in the service of vigorously destructive and destabilizing agendas has – willy or nilly – blotted out any over-arching or underlying mutuality of dignity that would call for a primary and undeniable respect for each other and for Ourselves.

And spiritually – well , there is not even a common official sense that there is any Beyond, any Meta (the Greek word) dimension, that exists ‘for real’. It may exist as a personal choice, but such a choice is considered purely idiosyncratic – if not indicative of psychopathy – and cannot be introduced into or allowed to have any effect upon public deliberation of large issues. Nor are individuals thereby Grounded in some larger, enfolding, sustaining reality that would balance them in this chancy voyage through Time.

And given that set of absolutely fundamental regressions, We can see secondary regressions in areas vital to Our common weal.

Politically, We have lost the ability to reason together and come to an arrangements respectful of human dignity and acceptable to all parties concerned. Indeed, few politicians now sitting have any experience of such a way of fulfilling their duties, so long ago were these priorities and guideposts deconstructed.

Legally, We have lost the ability to pass reasonable laws proportionate to the issues they are designed to address and simultaneously respectful of both human dignity and the most fundamental operating requirements of the Constitution and the Republic with which We have all, as The People, been entrusted for the duration of our respective ‘tours’ on this earth.

Internationally, We have wound up embracing and thus continuing some of the worst practices of Our former Cold War foe and rival, the USSR. In fact, rather than being a ‘foe’, it almost could be imagined that the USSR was a rival doppelganger, and that such a conception is evidenced by the fact that as soon as it disappeared, We instantly began to expand (and regress) to take its place, dreaming its dark dreams and stealing pages and entire chapters from its dark playbook.

The Hobbesian state of life – danger leading to vulnerability leading to insecurity leading to fear leading to self-destroying paranoia – has been replicated in the Victimist vision of life – danger leading to vulnerability leading to insecurity leading to fear leading to self-destroying paranoia. In an effort to meet this and that outraging emergency of each Identity, We have wound up making the same mistake by which the New York City Fire Department sank the powerful, modern, and majestic liner ‘Normandie’: in the frenzied efforts to put out the fire aboard her, they filled her with water (precisely not the way ships conceptually exist) and cut holes here there and everywhere in her to get at the flames and vent the smoke. And they sank her one day at a pier in Manhattan.

But they meant well. And they had been warned. But – hey – it was an emergency.

That ship never sailed again.

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