Monday, May 5, 2008

"Walk Quietly, But . . ."

Is ruthlessness a desirable presidential trait? The rise of HRC in the past few months suggests that the answer to this question is yes. One of the spokespeople for her campaign has gone so far as to label Obama a "pansy". Her "I don't know if Obama is a Muslim or not" innuendo is a typical example. Her unabashed claim to Michigan and Florida votes after agreeing not to participate in either of the state's primaries is another. Her intimation that she would use nuclear power to annihilate Iran suggests to me that she has a poll result that shows how appealing the confrontational trait of "shoot first, ask questions later" is to the blue collar workers of America. This ruthless and relentless quest for votes apparently signals to many that she is tough enough to be president. Looking back four and eight years, it was probably the "I'm a cowboy" mentality that put He who Would Be King in the presidency. What her campaign's three o'clock call in the early morning really symbolizes is that she would be ready to order a nuclear attack vaporizing portions of our civilization without apparent hesitation. Personally I prefer the more nuanced approach. Talking and listening are not two cities in China. They are a means of establishing dialogue and understanding among peoples and countries of diverse systems. As a young boy, growing up in Michigan, I was mightily impressed with the statement of Teddy Roosevelt that a president should "walk quietly but carry a big stick". Teachers would suggest that this maxim was a way that one could live a life based on principle and courage without resorting to violent means. I prefer this quality in a president rather than someone who would push everyone out of the way to get to the head of the line.

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