The celebration of President Ford some months ago was magnificent but overpowering. In the long history of England, no king or queen received the adulation given to our former president. Mrs. Ford had to withstand hours of praises of her husband, and I marveled at her endurance. Many of the other dignitaries must have tired.
President Ford was a decent man, and therein was his virtue. He was not brilliant. He was no great orator. He did not stand out in anything but simple decency. I do not doubt many politicians drooled at Ford's funeral. "If he can be President, so can I."
President Carter has already laid out plans for a splendid funeral when he dies. Whether Carter took the initiative to decide how many ceremonies should celebrate his death or whether he was invited to outline his preferences I do not know, but I am of the opinion that, in the celebration of our presidents, less is better than more, and enough is enough. Mr. Carter has been at great pains since his retirement to convince the country he was a good man and a good president. I do know IRAs were earning about 16 percent during his presidency and we bought as many as we could. We have not seen anything like 16 percent since his time.
President Bush has two years to the end of his presidency, and the would-be presidents are busy. Hillary Clinton has been campaigning for eight years and what she believes varies with the political climate. She opposes the war in Iraq, complains about excessive profits by some oil companies, and suggests profits should be confiscated, and directed to programs she would recommend. Note her modesty "I am the most qualified person in the United States to be president!" Barack Obama has little experience but has the advantage of being half black and half white. It is fashionable to promote minorities. What he believes is not clear but he seems more radical than Hillary and is doing his best to say what is popular.
We may assume the candidates of the Democratic Party will have the same political philosophy as those presently in office. Democrats in office vote down judicial nominees of the president who swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which strongly suggests that old democrats and the presumptive new democrats do not believe in the constitution they swear to uphold. They say they believe in the U.S. constitution, but speech is for decoration.
Would-be Republican presidents are of mixed worth. Senator John MaCain, Rudy Guiliani, and Mitt Romney, splendid candidates all, have mixed messages. None of them are pure conservatives. Newt Gingrich is the most brilliant, good looking, tall enough, with a hairy head, a good voice, clear diction, and a conservative message that knocks you off your feet, but when he was speaker of the House in 1994, committed to reform, he quickly secured funds for the construction of seven C-130J transport planes in his district, though the Pentagon only wanted one. He opposed those who put principle before money.
The best political speech I have heard in the last few years was by Governor Sarah Palin at her inauguration as governor of Alaska. Ronald Reagan could not have done better. I wish she were running for president, but she is beginning a new term in Alaska, replacing a governor who needed replacement. She will bless her state and her country.
Candidates pursue the presidency for the sake of glory, and that is the end of it. Partisanship dominates even when politicians ask for bipartisanship. Honest simplicity has no chance. The people understand but can do nothing because all candidates have a dream of glory.
The central item today is the war in Iraq. Everyone criticizes President Bush, speaking with authority as though they were graduates of West Point. It is admitted by all that intelligence underestimated the insane pettiness of the Iraqi tribes, willing to kill each other over trivialities, but the problem of the Middle East needs a more complicated statement than "bring the boys home." Oil from the Middle East dominates the oil supply of the world. Iran is determined to gain nuclear power, is destabilizing Iraq, and aims to dominate the Middle East. If Iran reaches its goal, the oil supply of the world, and the United States, will be in the control of the uncivilized president of Iran.
Citizens of Iran despise their government, thinking of it as we do, but they are powerless under the control of wicked clerics. Saudi Arabia's domestic control of oil is threatened with the aggression of Iran and is increasing output to undermine that country's income. Iran can produce oil but not refine it and needs cash. But how reliable is Saudi Arabia? They are bought friends who use income to establish mosques around the world, and in the United States, to advance their violent religion and oppose the United States.
Politicians criticize President Bush but they do almost nothing to make the United States energy independent. The age of oil is now one hundred years. My recollection is that the free world was in need of great supplies of rubber at the outbreak of World War I. Rubber had been grown naturally. We invented a substitute. We need a like substitute for oil. Imagine the howling of Arab countries if they had to live by sand! They are helpless without our money.
We could extend the supply of oil if we drill for it, but we won't drill in Alaska lest the reindeer be unhappy. We won't explore offshore because that would upset the fish. We could create energy with nuclear power, but we won't do that because wasteland would be harmed! Hydrogen energizes autos better than gasoline and has no pollution, only a little water vapor, but we fiddle around with wind and corn, knowing these are no more than drops in the bucket. We think it better to criticize President Bush because, we say, he is the cause of all problems.
In the 6th century B.C. Confucius was traveling through rugged and desolate mountains when he found an old woman crying beside a grave. Asked the cause of her grief she replied, "My husband's father was killed here by a tiger, and my husband also, and now my son has met the same fate." Asked why she continued to live in such a dangerous place, she replied, "There is no oppressive government here."
Confucius told his disciples how to regulate the state:
The ancients who wished to illustrate the highest virtue throughout the empire first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first regulated their own selves. Wishing to regulate their own selves, they first regulated their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of their knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their own selves were rectified. Their own selves being rectified, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole empire was made tranquil and happy. *
The honor of courage consists in fighting, not in winning. -Michel de Montaigne
Erratum: In the Feb. 2007 issue of Joseph Fulda's article a line in the first paragraph should have been: ". . . after his having served six months jail time. . . ." instead of ". . . after his having served six months."
The quotes following each article have been gathered by The Federalist Patriot at: http://FederalistPatriot.US/services.asp.