Sunday, November 14, 2004
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Arafat Voids
Oh, the other thing that stands out in this Op-ed is this:
Ariel Sharon seems to have already started to learn some of the lessons of Arafat's life. Mr. Sharon was asked recently what made him change his mind, and risk his own life and political career, to undertake a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza after so many years opposing such a move. His answer: There were things he could see "from here" that he couldn't see "from there..... "Sharon has started to give up his popularity among his own constituency, because he realizes that the welfare of the Israeli people, as a whole, requires decisions that are unpopular but unavoidable," said the Israeli political theorist Yaron Ezrahi."
If only Sharon's pal, one President Bush of the USA would take a lesson from him on how to strive to leave a positive legacy for his people.
In all the talk about culture wars and red-blue Americas, there is one fact that is rarely discussed. It is that the one person who has that rare opportunity that a poltician gets only due providence, to become a statesman, is President George W. Bush. As much as I don't believe that Bush will grab this opportunity to build bridges between the warring sides, to build better understanding of Red America in the blue states, and Blue America in the red states, I do think the opportunity is still there, if not more ripe, after the elections.
President Bush could, at once, push the conservative agenda, and promote such understanding by embracing traditionally conservative ideas such Federalism.
While he discusses the danger of "activist judges" discovering new rights in the Constitution, he never talks about doing it politically. Why, for example, is the President not coming out against, say, "a nation-wide imposition of same-sex marriage," and complementing it with support for, say, California-style civil unions in the states where people have approved it by ballot measures or their Legislature?
Would such an argument not gather a lot more moderate support, and build a way to promote a dialog among the two warring sides of this culture war? At the same time, what is not conservative about that agenda?
As far as I can say, the person who was snubbed the most by Election 2004 was President Bush. He won 51% of the vote - considered the bare minimum to get a mandate. It might be good for a challenger, but not for the incumbent. It is, in essence, the worst case scenario when we discuss majority rule: where 51% rules over 49%, who virulently despise the majority.
Notice that I used strong adjectives in the past statement, and yet, this statement does not meet with a big opposition in most circles today - it is almost accepted fact that the Blue and Red Americas hate each other. And, Bush is not seen as the figure who bridges them - not even as an Ambassador of Red states to the United States. He is seen as the General - the Chief Commander of the Red Forces.
That, is what he has to change - if he wants to leave a positive legacy.
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