I didn't watch the President's speech from the Oval Office the other evening. I knew what he would say, and I knew I stood behind him (in some ways I feel like the last man standing in this regard). I knew that he couldn't win for losing, that the Right would go after him because he had opposed the war in Iraq (as well as the surge) and the left would go after him because he didn't pull all the troops out the moment that he took office -- and now because he commended his predecessor -- not because they agreed on the war, but because the former President was a man who loved his country and is a patriot. During President Bush's term I admit taking swings at him, but he's no longer President and to his credit he's pretty much stayed out of the way.
Although my ideology tends toward the left, my instincts have always been centrist. I grew up Republican and voted for Gerald Ford in my first opportunity to vote. I opposed entrance into both of the current wars -- writing to my Senators at the time to register my views -- but I also believe that its time to move on -- or as the President said, turn the page.
One of the most disheartening thing about the current political climate is the fresh polarization. We're witnessing a civil war within the Republican Party, which is being orchestrated by a far right fringe that is reminiscent of the John Birch Society, and whose voices are people like Rush, Sean, and Glenn. It is important to note that the central influence on Glenn Beck is a shadowy character named Cleon Skousen, a Mormon who is so extreme that the LDS establishment distanced itself from him. Skousen had connections with the John Birch Society and proffered conspiracy theories, many of which Beck now spreads, that the conservative establishment leaders like William Buckley feared would taint the conservative movement. On the left, you have a dispirited Democratic Party unhappy with its President because he's made too many compromises in the hope that he could achieve his goals. One of the fallacies that lies behind the supposed opposition to the recently passed health care bill is that 60% oppose health care reform. Yes, many do, but many opposed this bill because it didn't go far enough. So, we have extremes defining the political moment.
So, yes, it is time to turn the page, to get realistic so that we can solve important problems. We'll not all agree. But, let's stop the conspiracy theories of left and right, and get busy dealing with the issues that trouble the nation and the world.
I appreciate a piece written today by Allan Bevere. Allan would agree with me that I'm much more liberal and more partisan than is he. I'm not a political independent, I am a Democrat. And yet we agree that its time to put aside the bickering and get to work. Allan did listen to the President and offers an appreciative statement in that regard. He's disheartened by the dismissals left and right of the President's statement, and then points us to another President who was criticized on all sides, but whom history has lifted up as a man of honor and wisdom -- Abraham Lincoln. As the war ended, and the nation began turning its focus to rebuilding after the devastation of four years of war, Lincoln said:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Even then partisans didn't want to see this happen. Conspirators moved to murder the President, and succeeded, removing the wise hand from the tiller. Radicals from the north sought to punish the south in ways that led to a hundred years of segregation and resistance to change. Let us heed the words of that wise President, whose life was cut short by violence, but whose voice still rings its clarion call to finish the work we're on.