I attend the Truman Dinner in Billings in 1996. Many make light of the fact that Truman’s middle initial stands for nothing. I don’t.
Oliver Stone has done some intriguing work regarding Henry Wallace and Harry Truman – that is, how did this little-known Missouri haberdasher become FDR’s vice president in 1944? The answer, according to Stone, was back-room dealing and treachery. Truman became possibly the worst president in American history, clueless in being duped into dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (he thought the former, according to historian Howard Zinn, to be a military base*). He also signed enabling legislation that gave us the CIA and NSA. He would lament these deeds in a ran-only-once (afternoon edition) 12/63 editorial in the Washington Post, but far too late. Wheels set in motion in 1947 had culminated in the death of a president one month earlier. Truman might have known this.
So we have the beginning of the Cold War, the Korean War, the NSA/CIA and beginnings of the military industrial complex, all under the governance of one man, S.
Democrats, clueless about history, clueless about politics, honor him.
Politics us hard enough to understand on ground level, but for leaders like those of the Montana Democratic Party and their guest speaker, Carville, less so. There were a thousand Democrats at the M-M dinner, and when Carville entered the collective room IQ went up .7 points. Those party faithful seated in the room, and this is true of all partisan politics, are searching for validation. They want but two things out of politics: moral and intellectual superiority. Fighting the mean old Republicans gives them both.
Of course, the same is true on the other side of the street. I don’t know what Republicans do – a Reagan/Bush/Bush dinner? Same game, different name.
Partisans do not understand issues, have no sense of history, and honor men and women of low integrity based on a simple letter by the name. Nothing matters but that Grant Park sense of superiority. In the end, it all comes down to winning on election night. For partisans, an electoral victory is the Tour de France, the Superbowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, Oscar and Peoples’ Choice, all rolled into one. It’s an orgasmic frenzy. It’s nirvana, the rapture. It’s Woodstock – with toilets.
I am harder on Democrats than Republicans, naturally leading the latter to think I am really a Republican mole. It’s more than that.
Republican leaders can get in a room, high-five one another and say “Hey, friends! No need to pretend. We’re all Benghazi crazy here.” They bask in ideological purity. They actually held George H.W. Bush accountable when he violated the “no new taxes” pledge.
Democrats, on the other hand, have to pretend to care about things they disdain – universal health care, civil rights, peace, the commons – they can’t be natural, cannot be themselves even when among the herd. It’s a constant state of tension and lies. This easily explains the stuttering Max Baucus, unable to relax unless, gavel in hand, he was arresting doctors and nurses. There is no accountability of office holders in a party with no governing ideology.
It’s interesting in one sense – Republican leaders are not nearly as crazy as they make out to be. In politics, all public behavior is for effect. Much of what they say and do is aimed at the Democratic base, gauged to get a reaction and keep the two-party myth alive. Democrats, on the other hand, have to play-act for the same base more than the “other” party. So in essence, most of the stage play called American partisan politics is done for the benefit of the Democrats.
And it’s time those Democrats knew – they are neither morally nor intellectually superior to anyone. The only way to get rid of that not-so-fresh feeling is to leave the party.
*8/9/45: Excerpt from public statement by President Truman. This was the second time he had publicly given reasons for using the atomic bomb on Japan: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”