Mom, apple pie, and ammunition

Today’s New York Times has a full-page ad from the “Partnership for Secure America” with a smorgasbord of political names from appetizers to desserts: Lee Hamilton, Warren Rudman, Howard Baker, Sandy Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinksi, Warren Christopher, John Danforth, Lawrence Eagleburger, Gary Hart, Richard Holbrooke, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Tom Kean , Sam Nunn, Thomas Pickering, Theodore Sorensen…

They have a petition to sign — a manifesto, if they were being more aggressive — that, like the list of names, has a little of this and a little of that, with a generous serving of “but” clauses (my emphases):

* “America must be strong to be secure. Our government must work tirelessly to bring terrorists to justice and break up and destroy terrorist networks. But while our strength and security are measured partly by our military might and the courage of our men and women in uniform, they are also enhanced by our unfailing commitment to democracy, justice, and civil liberties both at home and abroad.”

* “America must always be ready to act alone when its security interests are threatened. But building strong alliances based on mutual respect and shared challenges, including working to renew and reform the United Nations, will make us more able to protect America’s interests.”

They’re also all for alternative energy to break the oil addiction and they’re all against the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. They want more money for emergency responders but they don’t like the federal debt. And they’re against “global poverty, disease, and under-development.”

I love moderation. We need more moderation and less fringe. But the problem with moderation born of committees and coalitions is that are often neutered of strategic vision and political resolve. I can’t argue with anything in this list. I applaud its moderation. I celebrate bipartisanship. But I wonder what happens from this.

  • Jim Dermitt

    Is there a group that is for “global poverty, disease, and under-development.”?

    Save the whales!

  • Jim Dermitt

    They have a blog.

    It says, “Thanks for your interest in the Partnership for a Secure America blog. This page is currently under construction. We expect that this page will be fully operational on November 15, 2005. Please revisit this page then.”

    A blog is easy to create and deploy and may be more effective than an online petition. Now we have new blogs that we have to wait for. Don’t hold your breath until November 15, 2005. It would make sense to compliment a petition with a blog, but who cares about what makes sense?

  • Jim Dermitt

    PSA is project of The Century Foundation. It was founded in 1919 by Edward A. Filene, who I think pioneered the “bargain basement” in retail. They are also doing The Homeland Security Project

    With the human race out to destroy itself, I hope they can make some progress. The PSA site says, “To heighten public awareness of and support for a bipartisan national security and foreign policy;
    To bring leading Democrats and Republicans together to seek common ground in national security and foreign policy; and To accomplish the above tasks through the use of the most effective tools of modern communications.” I think a blog could be an effective tool for modern communications. I never saw a blog that you would have to wait months for. They have a budget for ads in the NY Times and the blog isn’t ready yet. What’s it take to set up a blog? Like 3 minutes and it is free at that! Go figure this one out. Maybe they’ll have a blog with no comment posting like Current TV.

  • SillyMillie

    What is moderation if not a coming together of seemingly polarized goals? In the English language, the only way to meaningfully reconcile two competing ideas with one modifying the scope of the other is to use the word “but”. I’m glad you’re sharing this development, Mr. Jarvis, BUT I wish you had framed it in a way that shows more support for steps toward moderation.

  • Too much political junk food. Look at all those big BUTs!

    A laundry list of positions does not amount to a philosophy.

  • hot is az

    Not sure when/where I learned this — Anytime a person uses “but” in a declarative sentence it is simply a premptive difusion of the obvious flaws/contradiction of the statement that follows. In “sales talk” parlance, you simply read everything in the sentence before the word “but” as disingenuous posturing – it is not what they really believe … it simply a trick to difuse the obvious contradiction that will folllow.

    Try changing the word “but” to “and” and see how it reads. Things seem a bit more gray and problematic … black and white is so much easier.

    There are always competing values at stake when we struggle with freedom and personal rights versus collective dangers. This, I believe, is why America is growing much more uneasy with the “for me or against me”, “black and white” ideology that both political extremes seem to find necessary. Hope we can have real debate versus spin.

  • Well spoken, Jeff. But I’m on their side. This seems closest to the scientific, practical-humanist approach that I admire in politics. But it’s hard for such a reasoned approach to overwhelm sensationalism. But with the growth of laymen’s understanding of the political system, reasoned debate has another opportunity to take hold. And the “step up” to republicanism, and the previous step up to parliamentarism, helped us break out of the monarchical system in the West. So there’s precedence for increases in reasoned political debate.

  • I like big butts and I can not lie
    You other brothers can’t deny
    That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
    And a round thing in your face
    You get sprung, wanna pull out your tongue

  • Dak

    No “buts” on this one….

  • David C

    One of the big problems I see is that the list of name reads like the Conventional Wisdom All-Star Team, Sept. 10, 2001.

  • owl

    I think I am with you on this one Jeff. But I can not absolutely say for sure.

    When I even see some of the names on the 9/11 Commission, I think “oh no, the Weepy Widows” have returned. That group that made themselves into straight political hacks……..not the group that is fighting so hard to stop the “blame America” crowd’s Ugly American Monument.

    So I guess I won’t sign up to give full support to that Sacred UN. That is what this is, isn’t it? Nice package.

  • Lin B

    Take a look at the quotes page. They list statements from John Kerry, Henry Kissenger, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, etc. as well as quotes from history. I notice that few of the living quoted there are signatories to PSA.

    That aside, this looks like a short lived movement. Too many in government really like partisanship.

    Lin B.

  • Good grief, JJ has discovered Laura Ingraham’s But Monkey.

  • W. James Au

    The irony is, the statement would work so much better and sound so much stronger if every “but” was replaced with *at the same time*. All the points they want to make would be there, but it wouldn’t sound like an over-qualified jumble.

    So why use “but”, when “at the same time” would have worked so much better? Because, I’d argue, the authors of this statement aren’t mainly concerned with making a strong statement. Their true goal is dissent against the Bush administration. The whole *meaning* of the statement is not what comes after “but”. *The whole essence and intent of it is the “but” itself.* (No giggling, please, this is serious.) With that qualifier, it’s evident they care less about what they believe, and more about how different they are from the current administration. “Framing” themselves, as it were, in opposition. Defining themselves by what they’re not.

    Contrary to impression, George Lakoff hasn’t done a goddamn thing for these people.

  • John

    I agree with David C, this is a list of adherents to the doctrine of “realism” in international affairs.

    It turned a blind eye to oppression in favor of short term risk reduction and a perception of stability. It was a product of the cold war, and has become dangerously irrelevant.

    The unifying element shared by all mankind is a desire for liberty.

    In short: Freedom sells, it is something we can all agree on.

    I will grant the realists some rear guard butt covering, but it is non-productive to look backward for direction, in my opinion.

    Hint: there is no but after “The spread of liberty and human rights worldwide will increase security for everyone”

  • I saw the ad and thought it was “Huffingtonesque.”

    I’ll tell you why (IMO) they don’t have a blog with comments.

    Because then some “pipsqueak” (one of the hoi polloi) would ask these esteemed (pompous), oft-quoted (pontificating), experienced commenters (old gasbags) to be clear instead of ambiguous and specific instead of general.

    They’d rather stroke their beards and click their tongues on Russert. A NY Times ad is good for that.

  • penny

    I’ll tell you why (IMO) they don’t have a blog with comments.

    God forbid that the priestley caste should ever be forced from their protective moat and field comments and questions from the “little guy” – us slobs, the great unwashed. That must be avoided at all cost. We don’t have journalism degrees, for God’s sakes.

    Like the Catholic church, at the height of its authoritarian worst excesses, comments or questions from the pews were verboten.

    The last thing that the MSM wants is comments from us. The carefully selected one or two per topic letters to the editor is as good as they permit.

    Unedited comments, the unwashed challenging their premises and facts, the MSM would rather go broke. And, thank God, will.

  • Benjamin

    Commitees and coalitions, Jeff?

    You just support the other commitees and coalition.

  • Robert Speirs

    I wish the moderates would be more moderate about their moderation.

  • Jim Dermitt

    For some reason, all of the names listed here reminded me of Charlie Rose, the PBS talk show host. Bloggers are debating blogs now. What’s an A-list?
    With blogs there is no moderator for the debate. This could mean the end of moderation as we know it. Nobody is going to agree on everything. If you want an A-list, it doesn’t bother me. Comment free blogging seems to be a new trend for some blogs, which isn’t being debated. I guess the A-listers don’t care. How many A-lists are there now? I’ll look around.