Friday, February 3, 2012

Where's a Statesman When We Need One?

The Greatest Statesman of My Lifetime - Bar None
 One of my favorite weblogs, "The Art of Manliness", just ran a piece called "The Four Qualities of a True Statesman."  Brett & Kay McKay, the authors, certainly picked a subject that would get a lot of comments. Predictably the Paulestinians came out in force and I'm thrilled they're getting so many hits off those guys. They've really kicked the ad revenue of small political blogs like mine into high gear. All you have to do to get a spike is to mention Ron Paul and step back and let the comments roll in.

I agree with Brett's analysis as to what a statesman is. It's not hard to spot a statesman. The top 4 American statesmen who made president in the 1800s are carved on Mt. Rushmore. I think you could add Daniel Webster and Henry Clay to that list whether you like their politics or not. Of all of them, I think Washington was the father and model of true American statesmanship. Lincoln had the toughest job, Jefferson the greatest impact on personal freedom and Teddy Roosevelt was the man on foreign policy - him and his "big stick".

In the 20th century, I’d pick FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan – and possibly Harry Truman. Reagan always befuddled "real" politicians because Reagan actually believed all that stuff he was saying and "the people" believed him when he said it. I believe the others I mentioned had that ability as well, with differing degrees of success at carrying public opinion along with them. Truman, who was no career politician, believed the buck stopped with him and that is very statesmanlike and all kind of manly.

In the 21st century we’ve had a shortage of statesmen so far. I’ll give you Ron Paul as statesmanlike, but no more. He’s as principled in what he believes ought to be done as George W. Bush was on the war on terrorism. GW was wrong on some issues as is Ron Paul. Both have fatal flaws in that they fall short in the consensus building department. I don’t think the 21st century has yet seen its first great statesman yet. The closest to a principled politician I’ve seen so far is Sarah Palin. That woman really believes what she says, though I’m not sure we’re ready to hear it from a woman quite yet, despite our efforts to change our culture in that regard. Sadly, we’re not ready for an American Margaret Thatcher. I do hope one will take the stage at some point. It would be nice to add an American iron lady to that list of iron men.

I do believe that statesmen are no accident. I believe, when we need a statesman, God will raise one up.

  • “The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”  - E.G. White

Oddly enough, it was a woman who wrote that. but then who better to recognize a real man when she sees one?

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King

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