Isn't it Ironic? Dontcha think?
IN HIS STATE of the Union address on Tuesday, President Bush worked himself into a lather about the dangers of "retreating within our borders." His speech bulged with ominous references to ostensibly resurgent isolationists hankering to "tie our hands" and leave "an assaulted world to fend for itself." Turning inward, the president cautioned, would provide "false comfort" because isolationism inevitably "ends in danger and decline."There's a phrase, coined by Boston sportscaster Bob Lobel, mockingly invoked whenever some former Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics or Bruins player is highlighted in the news for doing something extraordinary: "Why can't we get guys like that?"
But who exactly are these isolationists eager to pull up the drawbridges? What party do they control? What influential journals of opinion do they publish? Who are their leaders? Which foundations bankroll this isolationist cause?
The president provided no such details, and for good reason: They do not exist. Indeed, in present-day American politics, isolationism does not exist. It is a fiction, a fabrication and a smear imported from another era.
This is where the tradition of George Washington comes in. As even a glance at the first president's Farewell Address affirms, Washington was anything but an isolationist. He was instead the founding father of American realism, a school of thought based on a lively appreciation for the limits of power and for the fragility of the American experiment in republican government. Washington did not counsel his countrymen to turn away from the world but to approach it warily and without illusions, choosing "war or peace, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel."
Can America be America absent Wilsonian ideals? Perhaps not. But an America intoxicated with its self-assigned mission of salvation while disregarding prudential considerations will court exhaustion, both moral and material. Our present circumstances may not dictate a full retreat. But they do require a revived appreciation of what we can and cannot do. Contriving phony charges of isolationism to dodge tough, practical questions is not only dishonest, it is reckless and irresponsible.
The irony, of course, is that Boston had an extraordinarily talented player, but team management, in their infinite wisdom, traded him away for some lesser talent, much to the dismay of Boston Sports fans.
That's how I feel much of the time whenever a contemporary politician like Dimwit Dowrong or his evil mentor, the Viceroy of Vile, or, for that matter, any of the elected flotsam on either side of the aisle to which we currently entrust our nation's fate, is compared (or, more typically, contrasted) with the likes of my nation's "founding fathers": Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, etc.
Why can't we get guys like that?