The Washington-Post opinion page today (May 12, 2011) has some particularly good opinion pieces. I think the most important one is written by Senator John McCain and makes it clear that torture is wrong. To quote McCain, “All of these arguments have the force of right, but they are beside the most important point. Ultimately, this is more than a utilitarian debate. This is a moral debate. It is about who we are.”
Fareed Zakaria lays out solid arguments on why the United States must push Pakistan to reform itself from a military plutocracy to a representative democracy. As he notes:
“There have been almost no marches to protest bin Laden’s death or the American operation, although one 500-person march in Lahore was replayed endlessly on television. The fundamental issue for Pakistan is surely not how America entered the country. The United States has been involved in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan for years, using drones and people. Rather, the fundamental question is, how was it that the world’s leading terrorist was living in Pakistan, with some kind of support network that must have included elements of the Pakistani government? How is it that every major al-Qaeda official who has been captured since 2002 has been comfortably ensconced in a Pakistani city? And how is it that any time these issues are raised, they get drowned out by an organized campaign of anti-Americanism or religious fanaticism?”
E. J. Dionne, Jr. has another take on the current litigation regarding the Affordable HealthCare Act. While I think most of what he say is wrong, he does make a very telling point:
“If a conservative majority on the Supreme Court eventually strikes down the individual mandate, it won’t change this reality. It will simply delay our day of reckoning as we keep trying to rationalize the mishmash that is our private/public health-care system. Like it or not, collective provision will always be central to any humane health-care system. Our competitors understand that. The sooner we do, the better.”
George Will provides his take on the Democrats defense of the status quo. I find his concluding paragraph the most insightful; our society does not know our own history.
“The lesson of all this is that one’s sense of possibilities — and proprieties — is shaped by what we know, and often do not know, about history. The regnant ideology within the Obama administration and among congressional Democrats is reactionary liberalism, the conviction that whatever government programs exist should forever exist because they always have existed. That is, as baby boomers, in their narcissism — or perhaps solipsism; or both — understand “always.”’
Medicare is new, as is Social Security, the question which needs to be answered is not whether these programs should be abolished, rather how can they be altered to function properly in the 21st Century. In this particular case, it is the Democrats who are the conservatives in their slavish adherence to the status quo; however this does not mean the Republicans are the progressives, they are the reactionaries who would undo the social safety net.
Our politicians, of both parties, need to understand they have an obligation to solve the problems of today, but also, not to unnecessarily burden future generations. Thus far, the baby boom generation, whether Republicans or Democrats, has shown little leadership and rather than solving problems they have avoided the hard decisions and place the burden on future generations. That is not only wrong; it shows the complete moral bankruptcy of my generation, the baby boomers.