Sunday, January 28, 2007

Promise and Greatness

Bob Herbert:

The public is way out in front of the politicians on this issue. But the importance of Saturday’s march does not lie primarily in whether it hastens a turnaround of U.S. policy on the war. The fact that so many Americans were willing to travel from every region of the country to march against the war was a reaffirmation of the public’s commitment to our peaceful democratic processes.

It is in that unique and unflagging commitment, not in our terrifying military power, that the continued promise and greatness of America are to be found.

The public, though not always exactly where I would have wanted them to be, has always been out in front of the politicians on this war. The sad truth of the last 4+ years is that too many of our leaders failed to lead.

This fact reminded me of this passage in an article about Scooter Libby by a self-described "old friend."

For all these reasons, I want to insist that Scooter's respect for power is not just a front for cold self-interest. At bottom, there's a kind of innocence about Scooter. He has submitted to masters like Paul Wolfowitz and Cheney because he respects them, just as a Zen novitiate submits to a meditation master or a young violinist reveres the prodigious talent of her teacher. This attitude was zealously nurtured by the prep schools we attended, where conformity to power was called "leadership" and submission to the system understood as "success." And it is Scooter's celebration of this attitude -- not the sex scenes unfairly ridiculed by the New Yorker -- that makes his novel "The Apprentice" so interesting today. The book tells the story of a young man just like Scooter, a man with the humility to bow before a master warrior and undertake a life of apprenticeship to figures mightier than himself.

I'd never really quite thought about it in that way, that "conformity to power" is too often confused with "leadership" in David Broder's Washington.

But there you go.