We live in a dangerous world and history is unkind to leaders who refuse to see the gathering storms.
Equivocation in the face of evil spells disaster. Conversely, ideological bigotry can prevent transformational solutions to real issues.
The American Presidents of the 1850s showed little courage to create an environment that would lead to the emancipation of slaves and preservation of the Union. Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan are in the Presidential Hall of Shame.
Warren Harding was undone by the corruption of his own advisers in the early 1920s.
Neville Chamberlain's capitulations to Hitler in 1938 are the embodiment of appeasement.
Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon lied to themselves and the American people about Vietnam, from our reasons for intervention all the way through the farcical "peace process" that led to the enslavement of Vietnam and Cambodia.
President Carter's inability to inspire a nation and act decisively when confronted by terrorism helped accelerate Islamofascist activity against Israel and the West.
Presidents Bush I and II both failed to live up to their domestic economic promises. They failed to act decisively in both Gulf conflicts, prolonging the agony of the local populations and increasing the body count of American soldiers.
President Obama continues and amplifies this legacy of wishful thinking. His combination of hubris and ignorance is appalling and dangerous. Flowery rhetoric and lofty hopes do not impress leaders bent on the destruction of the USA.
Getting rid of torture is admirable, but it will not end Iran's headlong rush to lob a nuclear bomb on Israel.
Calling on the world to pay attention to climate change (in spite of contradictory scientific reports) is noble, but it does not rid Africa of the warlords that keep Western aid from reaching the starving millions of that troubled continent.
Unless domestic governmental spending is controlled and new opportunities for entrepreneurs to flourish are created, the USA is rushing into economic and political oblivion within this generation.
As I pen these words, the dollar is in free fall and our enemies and erstwhile allies are looking for a new standard for international trade.
We are at a serious crossroads of history. The following thoughts are offered as ways to get beyond the campaign speeches of the current Administration and the histrionics of its opponents.
We can have economic growth and environmental sanity. Each helps the other. Left-wing control and right-wing greed need to yield to private-public stewardship. The USA should drill for oil AND develop new energy sources. We should learn from Europe's clean nuclear examples and work on alternatives. It does us no good to impoverish ourselves ("de-develop" is one Obama official's term)while the rest of their world improves its standards. There is enough for all on our abundant planet if we manage wisely.
We can fight terrorism without being a colonial/occupying power. We should have bases with troops and weapons capable of destroying terrorist dens while avoiding offending the sensibilities of those we aim to serve.
We can fight terrorism without granting civil rights to enemy combatants and without torture. We must not bring terrorists to US civil courts. We do not need to reduce ourselves to the terrorists immoral level in order to fight them successfully.
We can have civil rights for all and uphold traditional marriage. Marriage is a defining institution and no civilization in history has equalized heterosexual and homosexual unions. On the other hand, consenting adults are free to enter into domestic partnerships. Companies private and public can offer benefits as they choose.
We must avoid the either/or fallacy that plagues modern discourse.
We can have a strong Israel and a second (the first was Jordan) Palestinian State - if the Palestinian leadership will guarantee Israel's right to exist and not force the return of refugee descendants to locales within the agreed-upon boundaries of Israel.
We can be alert to climactic and environmental realities without capitulating to fear and losing necessary liberties. We DO have a profound impact on our world. When I was a child, no one could swim in the Great Lakes or San Francisco Bay. Today, they are destinations that are much cleaner and teeming with new life.
We can have good health care for all citizens and legal aliens without bankrupting our government and creating one more bloated, ineffective federal program. Remember City Hall and the State Capital? Let's rediscover local government and create new ways to act locally on universal concerns.
Political discourse is rough-and-tumble and to castigate opponents as "partisan" while refusing to work with them does no one any good. Labels such as "Communist" and "Nazi" need to be eschewed in favor of real debate on how to get things done.