A closer look at the Bush record -- from
the war in Iraq to the war on the environment
take the exit ramp off the Bush presidency in November?
Colin Powell's Legend
Colin Powell's sterling reputation in Washington hides his life-long role
as water-carrier for conservative ideologues.
Recounting the controversial presidential campaign
Is the national media a danger to democracy?
The Clinton Scandals
The story behind President Clinton's impeachment
Pinochet & Other Characters
The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics
Contra drug stories uncovered
How the American historical record has been tainted by lies and cover-ups
The October Surprise
The 1980 October Surprise scandal exposed
From free trade to the Kosovo crisis
Other Investigative Stories
Editor's Note: In the daily political battles of
our age, we often lose sight of the bigger picture -- the ideals of
American liberty that are increasingly at risk in a world where our
leaders tell us that our personal safety is more important than the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights, that we should trade liberties for
security, and that their principal job is to make sure we're safe as we
shop at the mall rather than to protect the constitutional system that
keeps us free.
We forget, too, how we fit into the historic
panorama of freedom and reason as those concepts were passed down to us
by the Founders and by the courageous generations of Americans who
expanded on those ideals over the past two centuries, from the
Abolitionists to the Suffragettes to the Freedom Riders.
We also must be reminded that our ultimate
responsibility in protecting these traditions and ideals is not just to
ourselves in the present but to the future, or in the quaint phrase of
the Founders, to our "posterity," to our children and our children's
children. In that context, we are publishing this guest essay by
political analyst Brent Budowsky (which originally appeared at
a good time, Google the date July 4, 1826.
On that day, 50 years to the hour
after the Great Declaration was signed by freedom's greatest friends,
Jefferson lay dying, Adams lay dying, thinking of America, speaking of
I'm not the most religious guy, but
shall we call that coincidence, or Providence? In some ways I have
always considered that day, and those events, the most important in this
history of our land.
Were Jefferson and Adams speaking
to us that day, reminding us of the legacy that would endure for the
ages? Was God speaking to us that day, taking two of freedom's timeless
heroes from us, at that exact moment, on that exact day, reminding us,
as their dying words were about each other, on that July 4 -- 50 years
after the Declaration -- of the most extraordinary legacy that is now in
trust in our hands today?
What would they think of our
President, who used the holy grounds of 9-11 to declare and wage
aggressive war pitting one group of Americans against another, pitting
the Executive Branch of the American government against good faith
respect for our Bill of Rights, pitting the rule of law and American
honor against what even our conservative Supreme Court now holds as
illegal detention practices and a litany of abuses and wrongs that
offend what Jefferson called the decent opinion of mankind?
What would they think of Democratic
leaders? What would they think of the media? What would they think of
events that show carnage in the corners of the world, with the voices of
aspiration, hope and dreams silenced or retreating in the face of
unspeakable tragedy and horrors?
At this writing, the blood is
flowing again in the Middle East, so I begin with this thought, to make
the larger point: President Bush should immediately appoint President
Carter or President Clinton as a special ambassador on an extraordinary
mission, in the name of the good people of the United States, to seek a
cease-fire and give authentic voice to the five-year-old Israelis and
Arabs who deserve better than a lifetime of maiming and death and
endless anger and hate.
To the cynics: spare me the talk of
how it will not work. We have seen the result of your way. It may not
work, but I've been in this capital city of America for a long time and
dealt with giants and midgets of all persuasions and cannot remember any
other time, when neither political party dared to offer a grand vision
that at least tries to appeal to the souls and spirits of young
Israelis, Arabs and Americans.
Can we agree that military policy
without diplomacy is a one-way road to failure, that diplomacy without
military strength is a one-way road to weakness, and that disastrous
military policy with zero diplomacy is a one-way road to hell?
Today there is a war of the worlds,
on virtually every field of endeavor, and contrary to the partisans,
ideologues and profiteers, I would define it this way: it is a war
between the dream builders, the dream crushers, the dream exploiters,
and standing on the side, as always, the vanity players who's call to
action is "what's in it for me."
The original dream builders were
Moses taking the Ten Commandments and Jesus speaking the Sermon on the
Mount. For we Americans, the original dream builders were the Jeffersons
and Adams, the abolitionists who stood bravely against slavery, the
Freedom Riders in the 1960s, the Zengers and Upton Sinclairs who wrote
truth about power, the Ted Turners who challenged conventional wisdom,
the Franklin Roosevelts who told us we have nothing to fear but fear
itself, the Robert Kennedys who spoke with passion to blacks and white
about justice and the rule of law, the Martin Luther Kings who stood in
front of Lincoln and moved us with his Dream.
Its not partisan: in my opinion:
Ronald Reagan was a dream builder. As someone who worked at the
epicenter of Loyal Opposition during his Presidency, there is much to
object to in his vision of conservative government, but much to applaud
in his vision of ending the threat of mass extermination from nuclear
war. I have written about this myself in the National Review
("Roosevelt, Reagan, Rushmore") and both Paul Lettow and Richard Reeves
have written brilliant and important books on this subject.
Agree with me, or not, I remind all
of this: for his greatest achievements of enormous historical legacy,
his breaking the barriers of old thinking side by side with Mikhail
Gorbachev, a profoundly underestimated historical figure, Reagan was
demonized, demeaned, and defamed by many of the most prominent voices of
the Right at the moment of his greatest legacy. They used words like
Pearl Harbor 2, appeasement and surrender to describe Reagan's reaching
out to Gorbachev and have earned the right to modesty, a word beyond the
comprehension of those who make the greatest blunders but insist they
are always right.
The dream crushers are those who
say we should be afraid, fearful, and timid; those who believe our
neighbors are our enemies; those who inflame their supporters to acts of
rage and hate; those who fear the truth and seek to imprison those who
report it; those who promulgate the slander that some among us are not
truly Americans, which is the most un-American slander of all; some
conservatives who speak of God but have no commitment to lift the poor
among us; some liberals who love humanity but are not at their best when
they deal with people.
The dream exploiters and vanity
players say the right things, and should know better, and are just as
culpable, or more.
In October 2002 the collective
leadership of the Democratic Party were dream exploiters, marching in
lockstep, almost unanimously with ideologues and extremists, to war in
Through 2004 one of the greatest
collections of dream exploiters in the history of politics included the
upper strata of the national security establishment of the Democratic
Party, who pompously called themselves the "poobahs," and were the
lineal descendants of Robert Strange McNamara.
Sitting at their mahogany tables
and planning their return to power in a presidency that would never
happen, they sold John Kerry on handing away the Presidency by trimming,
hedging and wimping his words on the great war of our age.
The dream exploiters can be found
on the Right, hustling for war where young men and women die, then
reaping huge profits from the sacrifice of others. They can be found on
the Left, from those who see the blogs as another cheap way to raise
campaign money for their consultants, or those who try to rip off,
exploit or cheat some of the most brilliant voices on the Internet with
phony teases of support followed by cheap exploitations of their work.
Can we agree on this? Those who
have committed crimes of war should be prosecuted and punished under
law? Those who have been sent to war without armor and helmets and
bandages were called heroes but treated with contempt and neglect by the
same people, in both parties, who give magnificent speeches on the
Fourth of July, but did nothing for four years to prevent this outrage
that persists, too often, today?
Can we agree that the homeless
heroes who fought our wars and suffer the hardships today should be
treated with the honor and passion of a decent society, not the neglect
and harvest of shame from those who let this happen without waging the
fight for them that deserves to be waged?
We know the blogosphere has reached
center stage in the war of the worlds, when it is attacked by many on
the Right, and exploited by some on the Left. Good, great, let us join
the fight, wage the battle of ideas, let us fight and compete in the
battle for hearts and minds, let us fight and compete in the contest to
build and share the greatest dreams, create and expand the largest
audience, demand and achieve the support from those who talk well but
exploit shamelessly, and who will act straight, or be left behind.
This is not about Democrat,
Republican, Left, Right. Let a thousand flowers bloom, let a hundred
million voices sing, and let the battle be waged in the voting booth, on
television and radio, on movie screens and Internet screens, with
publishing houses and editorial boards and advertising eyeballs.
The common denominator is this: we
are people who believe in the building of dreams, as Jefferson built
dreams, as Adams built dreams, as these two giants, who stood together
in creating our Nation, who stood apart on many of the great issues of
their day, who died the same day, on different sides of our continent,
whispering their last words about each other. speak to us today.
In these difficult days, no one
ever promised it would be easy, but as others have said, the battle
continues, the struggle remains, the cause endures, and the dream shall
Brent Budowsky was an aide to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen on intelligence
issues, and served as Legislative Director to Rep. Bill Alexander when
he was Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Leadership. Budowsky
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org..
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