May 15, 2003 (Ira Pilgrim)
The art of leadership.....consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
After 9/11 the villainous adversary was Osama bin Laden. So far, no one has been able to find him. It is doubtful that he died. Now it is Saadam Hussein. All that Saadam had to do was to discard his uniform and shave off his mustache and disappear into the crowd. He doesn't have a country any more, but he does have lots of money.
If the president thinks that he can follow Hitler's advice, he may be mistaken. He has too much competition. There seems to be no end of people who want to frighten the public, either for fun or profit. Concerted efforts have been directed toward keeping the American public in a state of fear. One would think that it would be a difficult job in one of the most secure of all nations, but it isn't. Woman are supposed to be terrified of breast cancer and everyone should quake at the even the thought of obesity, not to mention cholesterol. Parents are taught to be afraid of child molesters and their children are cautioned to be afraid of every stranger. Now it's SARS. What next?
In response to Tom Ridge's alarm, people emptied the store shelves of plastic sheeting and duct tape. I haven't seen gas masks on the hardware store's shelves, but that may be because the manufacturer's supplies haven't caught up with the demand. When they are available for general distribution, they will be well advertised and that many people will buy them.
Hitler wasn't known for his originality. Somewhere around 400 years before Christ, Plato said that "When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader."
I have been impressed with George II's ability to be a fearless leader. He memorizes (or reads) his lines almost as well as Ronald Reagan did. However, all that Reagan did as Commander in Chief of the armed forces was to have a few small bombs dropped in Libya, where they thought that Muammar al-Qaddafi was. Quaddafi is still going strong, so I assume that the bombs missed him.
James Thurber said that "Boys are beyond the range of anybody's sure understanding, at least when they are between the ages of 18 months and 90 years." Someone else once said that the world is run by 16 year old boys. George Bush and Tony Blair make that statement believable. If it wasn't for the consequences of their actions, the performance of those two would be laughable. Now that the Iraq war is over, I wouldn't be surprised if Britain's Labor Party dumps Tony Blair as its leader. Most of his support for the war came from the opposition party (the Conservatives), the British equivalent of the Republicans. How Bush does in the next presidential election remains to be seen. I intend to contribute my little bit toward his defeat, although I doubt that it will do much good. I believe that a skillful politician can fool most of the people most of the time. I was born when Calvin Coolidge was president, so I have seen a few of them. I would rate George W. Bush as one of the most skillful politicians in our history. I think that his old man was more effective as a president than his son, although he was not as effective as a campaigner.
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