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Waiting for Greatness
Saturday, 25 August 2007 00:35
by Stephen P. Pizzo

We live in extraordinary times.

That's the bad news.

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary leaders, and we have none. Not one.

That's the really bad news.

Maher - back from vacation...

Among the Dems and Repubs vying to be our next leader there are gradations of greatness. But they range only from the “not-so-great” to “you-gotta-be-shittin'-me” levels of greatness.

Greatness is, to be fair, the rarest of human conditions. We see it only rarely and, if we're real lucky, greatness appears, seemly out of nowhere, at extraordinary times to save our mortal cookies in just the nick of time.

The founders of this country, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al, were a pretty impressive lot, for their time. They were weren't perfect, but they were great. They had and displayed courage, wisdom and vision. Oh, I know, they also had slaves ... their bad. But considering the times, they were by any measure, great leaders, without whom our history would have evolved quite differently.

Abe Lincoln was another great piece of work. So was FDR. Roosevelt's greatness pulled America out of economic depression. And his creation of Social Security is the only reason America's elderly enjoy any degree of security in their old age. Oh, and there was that whole World War II thing that Roosevelt was able to pulled off in less time than our current leader has battled us to a draw in Iraq.

Jack Kennedy was shaping up nicely too. Though he was not allowed to fully prove his greatness, we can all thank him for the fact that Florida and Cuba don't glow in the dark today. His brother, Bobby Kennedy also had the seeds of greatness, though they were never allowed to germinate.

Martin Luther King shared the kind of greatness our founders had; courage, wisdom and vision. His greatness was required to complete what Abe Lincoln began a century before.

Now here we are, once again living in extraordinary times. War – or near-war — rages throughout the Middle East, western economies that run on oil suddenly find themselves looking down the barrel of an empty barrel. The US, once the engine of the world's economy, mortgaged it's engine for a couple of trillion bucks in easy credit to Chinese loan-sharks. American consumers also became credit junkies. Our grandparents once celebrated “mortgage burning parties,” when they paid off their home loans. Today too many Americans celebrate simply being able to scrape enough together to stay out of foreclosure each month.

Then there's the environment. We've shoved so much of our gaseous trash into the atmosphere that Mother Earth has had right up to here with us, and she may just be fixing to shrug us off like so many annoying pests.

Extraordinary times, indeed. But if you're like me you feel like the guy in the play, Waiting for Godot. Where are our time's great leader(s)? Are there any? Is there at least one? Will he/she show up in the nick of time and begin addressing the real reasons we are living in extraordinary times, rather than simply reeling them off as political talking points?

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I'm waiting. And I suspect millions other Americans are waiting too. Waiting and hoping. Hoping, but still waiting.

We have something like 20 people running for President, and not one of them has displayed anything that raises to the level of the kind of greatness required by our times.

Barack Obama shows, from time to time, glimmers of greatness. But even there he seems unwilling, or unable, to break completely out of the box, to dare to color outside the lines of conventional political orthodoxy. He had just such a an opportunity when his opponents pounced on him for saying he would not use nuclear weapons against terrorist camps in Pakistan. They called him “naive,” and said it was dangerous to “take anything off the table.”

That was a moment when a truly great would-be leader turned to his/her detractors and said something like this:

“Excuse me. I don't mean to be rude, but I am forced to ask — are you people crazy? Because if you are now's the time American voters need to find that out before we end up with another reckless nut in the White House.

“So, I ask, just what are you saying — that if you were elected President you would keep open the possibility of using a nuclear weapon against collections of mud huts in the mountains of Pakistan? Is that what you say "should never be taken off the table?" The threat that you, as Presidient might nuke terrorists camps?

“Let me be perfectly clear what my policy would be as President. Nuclear weapons have only one purpose — as a deterrent. And not as a deterrent against asymmetrical, near-primitive bands terrorists, but a deterrent against a nuclear attack from another nuclear-armed country. Period.

"Therefore I repeat, I would not use nuclear weapons against terrorist camps in Pakistan or anywhere else.

Now, since each of you, particularly Hillary, have criticized me for saying that, I assume you have a different policy. Therefore, if any of you wish to announce tonight to the American people and the world that you don't share my stated position on the use of nuclear weapons, I relinquish the rest of my time to for you to make that announcement.”

That would have been a display of greatness. I would have recognized it as such, and I figure millions of Americans would have as well.

But Obama didn't do that. He didn't exactly retreat, but he didn't advance and expose the political double talking nonsense being spewed out by the other candidates. A great candidate would have driven that spike right through their phony balony hearts. Instead he became cautious, allowing that flicker of greatness to be extinguished by the stale hot air that surrounded him.

No one else running has shown even that flicker of greatness. Hillary is host (in the parasitic sense of the word) for big money machine politics as usual. (Holy cow, the reptilian right wing, FOX News-owning Rupert Murdoch threw a fund raiser for Hillary!)

Hillary Clinton is the quintessential political shape-shifter. She's the Eva Peron of contemporary American politics. The only reason Hillary is leading her Democratic opponents in the polls is because none of them are great. None of them has yet shown the courage to step right up and smacked her around like a pinata. If one of them did just that the toxic crap that fell out of that phony would cause voters to flee in disgust.

But no one has had the guts – the greatness – to do that. Which has allowed Hillary to fill this “greatness-vacuum,” with focus-group-tested policy nuggets and her well-rehearsed but entirely greatness-free, sound-bites.

If what you think the world needs right now is more of the dog that bit it, then Hillary really is your girl.

If it's any consolation, Republican voters are even worse off. None of their candidates have even shown a flicker of greatness. Instead they have a bunch a guys that all look and sound like insurance salesmen vying to convince voters that they are more spiritually connected than their opponents. Instead of putting a guy in the White House who's in touch with a genuine IQ, GOP candidates seem determined to prove they can channel the spirits of Ronald Reagan and Jesus Christ. (Just what the nation needs, another guy in the White House who believes he's in touch with God, and visa versa. )

Americans have become resigned to being limited having to choose from a list of appallingly mediocre candidates. After decades of such elections the mediocre candidates that got elected as “the lesser of bad choices,” created the convergence of daunting and festering problems that now threaten our liberty, prosperity and very lives. They may not have been great candidates or great leaders. But they did create great messes.

Don't such extraordinary times demand better? Shouldn't we demand better? I suspect that the vast majority of Americans, be they Republican, Democratic or Independents thirst for candidates up to the extraordinary challenges that face America and the world today. I'm sure of it.

In fact, I would bet my home that if our ballots included “None of the Above,” that choice would win hands down more times than not. Maybe that's the solution. Let voters reject all the candidates when they don't like them. Then give the parties 90-days to put up new candidates and have a new vote. Pretty soon the parties would get tired of having their mediocre “it's their turn” candidates rejected and would begin putting up their best and brightest, the courageous, the out-of-box thinkers.

Since we don't have and the “None of the Above” option – and are not likely to be granted it by the mediocre incumbents in charge of such matters — I'm left out here waiting for Mr. or Ms. Great-bar to show up.

At least I have lots of good company to commiserate with. Folks who, as one thing after another goes sideways, can look at another and nod knowingly. “See, I told you so,” we can say with a strange combination of smugness and dread as, piece by piece, the American dream morphs into the American nightmare. the earth continues to heat up, storms, droughts, famines and infestations take on biblical proportions and intensity.

In the meantime I will continue waiting. Waiting for greatness to appear and save our cookies once again.

Or not.
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Comments (2)add comment

a guest said:

any leader of america,past,present or future,who had secret alliances and swore secret oaths and belongs to secret societies...and placed his secret brethern and secret craft,above our country,constitution and our citizens...should be punished for high-treason.john quincy adams,was a great and thoughtful president(he was co-founder of the anti-masonic party)..john f. kennedy our greatest american hero,he gave his life trying to free his country and its citizens from the tyranny of secret oaths and secret societies. the zappacrat
August 25, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

a guest said:

"no martyr is among you now,that you can call your own.so go your way,accordingly,and know your'e not alone." ( a quote from a bob dylan song)
August 25, 2007 | url
Votes: +0

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