Sunday, January 25, 2004

Is Loyalty the Highest Virtue?The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an excellent commentary about Paul O'Neill. O'Neill has been branded as "unloyal" to Bush for telling all, as if somehow criticism is against the law. What is most telling is how O'Neill, a supporter of privatizing Social Securuty, wanted a full discussion of the issue with a government-supported panel with both critics and proponents. In the end the panel was filled only with supporters.

There seems to be a disturbing trend in the GOP that loyalty to a ruler is the ultimate value. This seems so counter to what Gerald Ford once said about our country: that we are a nation of laws and not of men. Loyalty is a nice virtue, but I don't think it is the highest virtue. After all, one could be loyal to someone like Hitler or Pol Pot (not that Bush is Hitler or Pol Pot. Just an example). O'Neill seems to have a higher value. He has a loyalty to the truth and to his country, and was willing in the example of Social Security to hear all sides and come to a conclusion. The Bushies seem to lack this trait. They long for conformity and don't do well dealing with someone who God's forbids, acutally thinks for themselves. They have no loyalty to this nation, only to that which serves its interests.

And to be honest, why is W. deserving of the GOP's loyalty? He is far from a Teddy Roosevelt or even a Ronald Reagan. These men had vision and were willing to take the nation in new directions. W. seems to want to take us backwards. His words are not visionary like his predecessors, they are perfucntory. This isn't about Bush being dumb, which I don't think is the case. Reagan was not the brightest bulb, but he knew how to get things done. What this is about is how Bush is changing the GOP in disturbing ways. Gone is the positive nationalism of Roosevelt, and the West Coast "sunshine conservatism" of Reagan. What we have now, is a more crony capitalism, a conservatism that is reminiscent of the Old South, more the party of George Wallace before he was reformed. Is a man who seems content with a party that no longer has any ideology other than "I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine?"


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