by Bob Volpitto
How often have you heard the President Calvin Coolidge quote:
"The business of America is business?" Remember, though,
that Mr. Coolidge was president when national politicians
and corporate bigwigs were less blatantly cozy and the demands
on our chief executive were far less taxing. It is recalled
that "Silent Cal" often went down into one the basement rooms
at the White House and counted apples stored in barrels. He
would sit for hours on the Pennsylvania Avenue porch of the
executive residence and watch electric trolley cars rumble
by on their steel wheels over steel rails.
President Coolidge was the nation's chief executive when
there was little to do but sign seemingly insignificant statutes
passed by Congress and affix his signature to an occasional
innocuous proclamation and, of course, count apples. As Will
Rogers once joked of Coolidge, "He didn't do nothin', but
that's just what we wanted done."
At present we have another Calvin Coolidge occupying 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue. Sadly, though, he was born in the wrong
era. How much he must yearn for a time when the president
could while away his term like Coolidge did - sitting on the
front porch observing trolley cars. Mr. Bush has the political
attitude of an early Twentieth Century president coupled with
the mental capacity of someone somewhere between Alfred E.
Neuman and Mortimer Snerd. He fails to realize that today,
in the Twenty-first Century, he is faced with a boiling cauldron
of unrest abroad and an economy that is splitting apart at
the seams at home. Too, Mr. Bush has no anxious moments over
the fact that we are drifting toward a caste society comprised
of two levels - the very rich and the very poor.
He is said to be "an early to bed and early to rise" kinda
guy. He loves to jog, workout, take frequent naps and relax
watching pro football games on television while munching on
pretzels. It is also said he glances at long, complicated
reports, scans a few pages, if any, then asks an underling
to explain it to him. When he is determined to finish reading
a 700-page book he means he'll read only the last page (or
so the joke goes). Ho, hum.
Mr. Bush echos Mr. Coolidge: "The business of America is
business," and leaves pressing details of governmental chores
to subordinates he had hand picked for him by his daddy, Vice
President Cheney and Enron's Kenneth Lay. He fails to realize
that America's business is governing by providing leadership
not tainted with corporate greed, sullied by a highly questionable
election and private, self-serving agendas drawn up by wealthy
campaign contributors. He doesn't comprehend he is embroiled
by his own rhetoric in what promises to be a series of never
ending mini-conflicts that he, like the emporors of Rome,
will never be able to resolve.
Mr. Bush repeats he is "concerned" about rising unemployment.
He should be equally "concerned" about the erosion of our
manufacturing base, corruption in his administration, the
corrosive effect of budget busting tax cuts for the over priviledged
and the growing plight of our 50 states who look in vain for
economic assistance and leadership from Washington. His "concern"
goes no further than a feather thrown against the wind.
Mr. Bush has no conception of the implication of what might
happen if Russia, China and North Korea form an economic,
political and military alliance against us. He fails to grasp
the enormous task American businesses will face when the European
Union gets rolling full steam. He, apparently, neither understands
nor cares about even the basic needs of peoples and their
governments in Central and South America. It appears the "Good
Neighbor Policy" has escaped his narrow vision.
Wake up, America. Your only refuge and salvation lies in
the Democrat opposition that sooner than later must replace
Dubya and his "yes, boss" minions before our economy crumbles
under the heavy weight of political corruption at home and
mindless military adventures abroad that will destroy our
ability to execute our world wide role of democratic leadership
and provide peace, economic stability and progress to all.
There is more to being president that declaring the "America's
business is business." In the Twenty-first Century America's
business is keeping the world, as best we can, at peace, promoting
the general welfare at home and guaranteeing worldwide that
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are more than lofty
phrases. We must convince world leaders that "enduring freedom"
has to be extended to everyone everywhere and that it means
freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom to worship according
to one's own conscience and freedom to live under a duly elected
government of one's choosing. And, that these freedoms must
"endure" far beyond our lifetimes.
We need a president who will take off the jacket of his $1,000
tailor made Brooks Brothers suit, loosen his $75 necktie,
roll up the sleeves of his $300 Neiman Marcus shirt and get
down to the demanding and, more than often, the gritty business
of being both a national and world leader.
I'm sure there are many who agree with me that: Mr. Bush,
you just ain't the guy we're looking for. Though you may be
able to wear the clothes, you will never fill the shoes.
Mr. Volpitto is a former publisher of a weekly newspaper in
West Virgina, who firmly believes that the Democratic party
has the obligation to regain national prominence and preserve