Thursday, February 22, 2007

These fickle and reversing politicos and press, then and now

I'm reading a fascinating book by Robert Kagan entitled Dangerous Nation: America's place in the world from its earliest days to the dawn of the twentieth century. A mouthful, I know--and that's only Part I, which goes up to the beginning of the Spanish-American war.

I haven't finished it. But I wanted to point out the following passage about the build-up to that war:

Republican newspapers that had been excoriating [Democratic President] Cleveland for his inaction on Cuba right up until the last days of the Democrat's term now reversed themselves [after the election of McKinley, a Republican] and backed McKinley's inaction. The small group of Republican barons who directed affairs in the House and Senate were dead set against intervention in Cuba and war with Spain. When Cleveland had been in office, they had let party members loose to criticize the Democrats for betraying the cause of Cuban freedom. But once in power they preferred Cleveland's course.

So, in terms of hypocrisy and self-serving political wheeling dealing, twas ever thus! When I'm tempted to think that there was a golden age when politics was more civil and profiles in courage were more common, all I have to do is read history to get a corrective lesson.

And don't think we're just talking about Republicans, here. A few sentences later we read this:

The Democrats, meanwhile, released from the burden of defending Cleveland's inaction, now assailed McKinley for pursuing the same course.

So, what else is new?

I hope to write more about this book soon. It makes some fascinating points that indicate certain parallels between the Spanish-American War and the Iraq War--although they may not be the ones you think.

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