Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In Praise of Cranky Old White Guys

Moose is proud this morning of her home state senator, Dick Lugar (R-IN), for coming out in favor of sanity on the war in Iraq. In a Senate floor speech Monday night (which was turned into an op-ed piece for today's Wa Po), the former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee makes a powerful, thoughtful case for changing course sooner rather than later. The crux of his position is stated as a risk/benefits calculation that we find a little cold, yet it's language that his audience in the diplo-politico-militarico establishment is far more likely to heed than our shrieking Code Pinko cries of "let's just bring them the hell HOME." Here's Lugar:

I believe that the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved by doing so. Persisting with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our interests over the long term. I do not come to this conclusion lightly, particularly given that Gen. David Petraeus will deliver a formal report in September on his efforts to improve security. I do not doubt the assessments of military commanders that there has been progress in security. But three factors -- the political fragmentation in Iraq, the growing stress on our military and the constraints of our domestic political process -- are converging to make it almost impossible for the United States to engineer a stable, multi-sectarian government in Iraq in a reasonable time.

In other words, LET'S JUST BRING THEM THE HELL HOME! Moose is creeped out by the appeal to national interests and the assumption that the failure to "engineer" a stable government in Iraq is due more to a problem of time than to a flaw in the conception of the whole fiasco of U. S. involvement there. Nonetheless, what is really striking in this paragraph is the role played by the reiterated "I": "I believe that the costs and risks. . . ," "I do not come to this conclusion lightly. . . .," "I do not doubt the assessments. . . ." Lugar's "I" is a slender, modest figure, a cautious man who has come to his decision after great deliberation and with some reluctance. One would call him self-effacing, except that Lugar's slender "I" keeps asserting himself into the paragraph and shoulders the heavy moral burden of publicly breaking with his party and his president on a matter of considerable urgency and import.

Americans -- and especially, perhaps, Midwesterners -- love this particular "I": cautious yet courageous, humble yet forceful, plain-spoken but not crude. (Yes, it's true, Lugar reminds Moose of her own late mild-mannered Midwestern dad, who spoke softly yet always managed to make her listen.) Lugar's "I" is no maverick on some self-promoting "Straight Talk Express." He is a team player, a company man, comfortable sitting at the table. When he bucks the tide, the other guys at the table can't dismiss him as a renegade or a loon. He is one of them, and he has broken the thick silence that had taken over the room.

So, fellas, are you listening yet? Will you tune in to a reasonable man who tells you that your "vital interests" are no longer being served by this disastrously misguided policy? Or will you close your eyes and pretend that Lugar is a wild-eyed woman in a pink tee-shirt?

(Wa Po has a piece today suggesting Lugar may not be alone in his party in his skepticism toward Bush's war policies. It's here.)

Another cranky old white guy deserving of praise this week is 87-year old Justice John Paul Stevens, whose continued good health you should pray for every day of your lives. Stevens dissented in the ridiculous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, which pretty much eviscerated the First Amendment rights of high school students, and he did so by comparing the current ban on marijuana to Prohibition and suggesting that marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated instead of prohibited. In his dissent, Stevens writes:
[T]he current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our anti-marijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs.
Goose wept when she read these words and insists that Roxie's World declare the Honorable Justice Stevens our first Official Righteous Dude of the Week. It is so ordered.

Meanwhile, Tom Toles brilliantly skewers the unrighteous dudes on the Supreme Court who comprised the majority in the "Bong Hits" case, so we'll let him have the last word today:

Or maybe not quite the last word: You may not hear from your favorite dog blogger for a few days, kids. The moms are off on another little summer jaunt, this time to Texas for my Uncle Bobby's "When I'm 64" birthday party, which will include a gig at Austin's amazing Broken Spoke. Happy birthday, Bobby, and please, please, please, try to keep my moms off the stage!


  1. RutgersAlumna9:08 AM EDT

    Compliments to cranky old men deserves some unexpected compliments in return -- I am enjoying the odds and ends on Roxie's Blog, the pictures, music, links!

    I had a friend who used to choose the cover image for a science magazine that asked her to select only images derived from the fine arts -- to constantly decide what that leap might be between art hsitory and specific science stories must have been a fascinating job to do. The photos you choose, Roxie, for this blend of canine politics, feminism, activism and gay liberation, are intriguing and wonderful as are the cartoons. How about that dazzling young skater! dressed in garden-colored balloons -- there were so many pictures in the news you could have chosen to celebrate Gay Pride Day -- but this fellow! how healthy he seems, so free, so profoundly fit to enjoy his difference to the full! If I could WOOF-WOOF, I surely would!


  2. Thank you, RA, for your compliment to the strangely mixed (one might say "mongrel") nature of Roxie's World. The creative team here spends HOURS trolling the internets for just the right combination of images and music to accompany my canine pearls of wisdom. Moose is director of Eye Candy & Other Intertextualities (a large unit within the Creative Division), so she was especially pleased to hear that you are enjoying our illustrations. Goose is director of 19th-Century Poetry & Rock 'n Roll.

    We'll be updating soon, as soon as the moms have had a chance to recover from their longer-than-expected trip to Texas. Like I said, I don't know why people ever leave home -- especially without their dogs!


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