Saturday, February 05, 2005

King, Pope, UN, Social Security

Colbert I. King, Deputy Editor of the Washington Post editorial page, has written an excellent two-part column (here and here) on political polarization and divisions in America. Highly recommended.

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There's an interesting Washington Post report today on the Pope's illness, the historical role of popes, and the nature of Pope John Paul II. There is no Death Watch at this moment, and there is virtually no possibility that John Paul II will voluntarily step down:

"The self-humiliation that the pope inflicts on himself each day in front of the television cameras courageously recounts a thousand-year-old story," said Sergio Luzzatto, a historian and papal expert. "For believers, the Vicar of Christ is called on to bear witness to the dual nature of Jesus: human and divine. No matter how sick, a pope cannot step down for the simple reason that his body is not his."

The time will come soon enough when this Pope will be gone and another must be chosen. A pope has little power in the conventional sense, but he is nonetheless the most influential of men, leading a worldwide Church of over one billion Catholic believers. The selection of the next man to exercise this unique influence will be a significant event in the history of our times.

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The Washington Post published a very balanced editorial today on the Volcker interim report on the UN oil-for-food program. Quotes:

...the oil-for-food scandal should provide a lesson for those who continue to believe that the United Nations can or should play a larger political role than it does today. ...

[The UN] is an organization that is severely limited in its capacity to manage complex financial and political programs, both by its necessarily politicized hiring practices and by its lack of funds. It is not an organization that can operate well in war zones such as Bosnia or Congo, or in deeply corrupt countries such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The U.N. oil-for-food report should not be used as yet another excuse for U.N.-bashing by citizens of countries whose governments behaved at least as badly in prewar Iraq. At the same time, it should force those in this country and around the world who believe that international organizations will soon take the place of nation-states to think twice.

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Nicholas Kristof hits the Social Security nail on the head in his column in the New York Times today. Here's the main point:

Liberals are making a historic mistake by lining up so adamantly against Social Security reform.

It's impolite to say so in a blue state, but President Bush has a point: there is a genuine problem with paying for Social Security, even if it isn't as dire as Mr. Bush suggests.


Blogger Kevin said...

King's two editorials are good reads. What sprang to mind and stayed there as I read them was what may turn out to be this century's greatest political distortion of reality: "I'm a uniter, not a divider" - George W. Bush.

The U.N. Oil for Food program is a classic example of the political divide in this country. While we can laud the relatively even-handed treatments of it, such as the Post piece you referenced, nobody on the Right wants to aknowledge the role of Americans in that program turning into such a farce. Nor do they want to aknowledge that the Iraqi Reconstruction contracts doled out by this administration are similarly corrupt. That lack of fair and balanced treatment does nothing at all to contribute to bridging the political divisiveness in this country. Rather, it contributes to it.

Kristof brilliantly dismisses the very reason for the Left and Center's reaction to Bush's SSI rhetoric. In so doing he once again demonstrates his lack of objectivity at best, and lack of honesty at worst.

Everybody knows that SSI needs to be adjusted to remain solvent. Clinton tried working on it, as everyone knows. So, it's demagoguery at best for Kristof to attack Liberals for reacting to Bush's "Chicken Little" rhetoric while quietly mentioning Bush's role as if it's merely a sideshow. The entire reaction is as much a direct reaction to Bush's rhetoric as is an object's inexorable fall to earth when released to the forces of gravity.

Lots of Liberals are *NOT* saying that there is no problem whatsoever. Rather they are saying that Bush is severely mistating the situation. To blame them while glibly letting Bush off the hook is patently dishonest. Likewise, to lump all Liberals in with those few who *ARE* claiming that there is no problem is similarly dishonest. But, it certainly does fit with Kristof's obvious political bias.

12:06 PM, February 05, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

I am surprised that came from the Washington Post. It sums up the problem with the U.N. pretty well. I can only hope other people nationwide will come to the same conclusion as the Post. Even the way they Tsunami was handled can be called by some (me) a sub par performance at best.

12:22 PM, February 05, 2005  

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