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America's Business Is...
January 29, 2002
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 its ideals.

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