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This Spring Do It for the Children Eco-Sacrifice is Closer Than You Think

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Competence vs. Manliness

by Christopher Chantrill
March 26, 2006 at 11:14 am


SO NOW THE Democrats’ theme is “dangerous incompetence.” This is the soaring vision they offer the American people, as the nation records the 53rd month of growth since the end of the last recession in November 2001, as the S&P 500 is up 60 percent to 1300 from 800 at the start of 2003, as home ownership is reaching new highs, as reports come in that venture capitalists are throwing money at Silicon Valley startups again, and as President Bush’s riverboat gamble in the Middle East still hasn’t collapsed as predicted.

Yes, things are pretty bad, all things considered, and it is inconceivable that the American people can put up with the incompetence of President Bush and his Halliburton lackeys much longer.

It is intolerable that after Hurricane Katrina President Bush failed to paper over the normal sluggish response of government bureaucracies at city, state, and federal level with the Clintonesque PR wizardry that we have come to expect from the nation’s president. It is monstrous that he failed to curb the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States when it determined that the global best practice port management corporation was qualified to run six of the nation’s ports, a reckless act that could easily cause distress to the Teamsters Union. And a mistake by a Bush Administration lawyer means that Zacarias Moussaoui won’t be executed, an outcome that shocks the New York Times even though “this page opposes the death penalty.”

The carelessness with which Republicans perform the sacred rituals of nurture-by-government seems to Democrats like sacrilege, the profanation of holy relics. Well educated, born to think well of themselves, and full of faith in their mission to correct the rich and raise up the poor with their government programs, they are scandalized by the indifference of the Republican “other” to the bells and smells of the Liberal High Mass.

But last week was also the week of Manliness from Professor Harvey Mansfield of Harvard. The reviewers in the New York Times Book Review and in the Washington Post were not amused by his celebration of humans with “confidence in the face of risks.” They clearly felt that the world of the Precautionary Principle and non-traditional gender roles had clearly moved on from such primitivism.

Rather than making everyone feel confident about “a government that cares about you” President Bush has acted like the leader of the Daddy Party and assumed that everyone would get on with their jobs without getting a regular hug. He also seems to think it is more important to visit the wounded in Walter Reed Army Hospital than to make sure that he can out-demagogue Senator Schumer on protecting our ports from efficient foreigners.

Even though the president will not be on the ballot, in November the American people will get to decide again: Do they want an adventurous father boldly protecting them from head-chopping Islamists? Or do they want an efficient mother keeping the kitchen clean and competently covering their cuts and bruises with Band-Aids? Probably they want both.

But will the Democrats actually deliver on competence?

This is a party that does not show the least interest in improving the competence of the many government programs they have promoted and expanded over the years. In fact Democrats oppose all reform of the social programs we support with our tax dollars. They are opposed to reform of the nation’s schools by breaking up the government monopoly. They are opposed to the reform of Social Security to transform it into a genuine savings program. They are opposed to reform of health insurance with Health Savings Accounts. And they are holding up further reforms of welfare that build on the stunning success of the welfare reform of 1996.

The truth is that Democrats do not care about competence. They only care about their power. They cannot consent to reform of the vast government that they have built up over the years. It is the basis of their power. So they are reduced to talking about competence.

Competence is the tactics of the status quo, of making the trains run on time, of making incremental improvements in efficiency. It is important.

But manliness, the confidence in taking risks, is the essence of the human adventure. Each human family begins with a calculated risk. The United States was founded on a calculated risk. And we know that President Bush is willing to take the big risk, to play big ball rather than “small ball.” His tax cuts were a risk. His Social Security reform is a risk. The Iraq adventure is a risk.

Democrats have lost the spirit of adventure that they possessed in another time when President Roosevelt called America to bold persistent experimentation. They would rather talk about competence.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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