The political doctrine which has represented the loftiest endeavor toward common life is liberal democracy…. Liberalism — it is well to recall this today — is the supreme form of generosity; it is the right which the majority concedes to minorities, and hence is the noblest cry that has ever resounded in this planet.
— José Ortega y Gasset, (1883-1955), Spanish philosopher
In times of disorder and stress, the fanatics play a prominent role; in times of peace, the critics. Both are shot after the revolution.
— Edmund Wilson
In an absolutely corrupt age, such as the one we are living in, the safest course is to do as the others do.
— Donatien Alphonse Francois, Marquis de Sade, (1740-1814)
What will we tell the children?
In 1999, Republicans in Congress were outraged over presidential mendacity:
- Former Representative, now Senator, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina):
“The president of the United States sets [sic] atop of the legal pyramid. If there’s reasonable doubt about his ability to faithfully execute the laws of the land, our future would be better off if that individual is removed. And let me tell you where it all comes down to me. If you can go back and explain to your children and your constituents how you can be truthful and misleading at the same time, good luck.”
- Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Pennsylvania), current chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:
“[The] rule of law should apply to everyone, no matter what excuses are made by the president’s defenders… We have done so because of our devotion to the rule of law and our fear that if the president does not suffer the legal and constitutional consequences of his actions, the impact of allowing the president to stand above the law will be felt for generations to come –laws not enforced are open invitations for more serious and more criminal behavior.”
- Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illinois), who was then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee:
“There is a visibility factor in the president’s public acts, and those which betray a trust or reveal contempt for the law are hard to sweep under the rug…They reverberate, they ricochet all over the land and provide the worst possible example for our young people.”
“Is Bush in a bubble? Is Bush a dry drunk? Is Bush a drunk drunk? Is Bush a narcissist? Is Bush an idiot? Is Bush a madman? Does Bush have an “Authority Problem”? Theories abound about why Bush does the things he does, but most of them assume that he is making mistakes that he could or would correct if he understood how misguided he was.
“On Monday, there was an editorial in the New York Times lamenting the apparent indifference of the Bush administration to the rebuilding of New Orleans, the levees in particular. On Tuesday, there was another editorial, excoriating the shameful behavior of the Bush negotiators at the Montreal conference on global warming. The gist of both editorials was that without national leadership, two chances are about to be lost–the chance to rebuild the city of New Orleans and the chance to mitigate the effects of global warming. Then at the end of the week, we learned that Bush has been wiretapping the phones of his own citizens–an impeachable offense. The Times writes as if it is possible still to alter the direction of Bush administration policy, but obviously it is not.”
“Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I’m talking about young girls. My son in high school last year tried to go to the prom. He said, ‘Dad, I ain’t got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. Ain’t but two of ’em straight, and both of them ugly.'”
— Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church in Southeast Washington DC.
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
– Unnamed Bush advisor to writer Ron Suskind, as reported in a October 2004 New York Times Magazine article
“We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep into our own history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular.
“This is no time for men who oppose Senator [Joe] McCarthy’s methods to keep silent. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result.”
— Edward R. Murrow, 1954