Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dr. Kaul answers the nation's burning questions

By Donald Kaul

Burning questions of the day:

Q---What will the resignation of Karl Rove from the White House staff mean?

A---That’s like asking what it meant when Vlad the Impaler hung up his spike. A lot less looting, pillaging and sacking of cities for one thing.

Q---Was Rove really that important?

A---Yes he was. He was the president’s chief political strategist and hit man, no more malign than the rest of the White House crowd but far more effective. He was the architect of the divide-and-conquer strategy that proved so successful over two elections.

Unfortunately, while divide-and-conquer may win elections it is a hell of a way to run a country, which is why we now see the nation in disarray and Mr. Bush’s reputation in well-deserved tatters.

So, with no more presidential elections to fix and the White House looking like the orphanage in a Dickens novel, Mr. Rove said he’s leaving to spend more time with his family.

His family’s loss is our gain.

Q---Do you think Barack Obama has enough experience to be president?

A---No, I don’t. Mr. Obama is a bright young man with a relatively short resume, virtually none of it in foreign affairs. He could use more seasoning. This is a trait he shares, in varying degrees, with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

On the other hand, the most prepared man we’ve ever had coming into the presidency was probably George Bush the Elder---congressman, envoy to China, ambassador to the United Nations, director of the CIA and vice-president. The best you can say about his presidency is that when he got us into Iraq, he had sense enough to get out quickly. Would that his son were as bright.

Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon each came to office having been a congressman, senator and vice-president and each was, in his own way, a disaster. Experience is overrated.

Q---My Daddy says that the Democrats are weak on defense. What do you say?

A---Kid, I’m sorry to break the news to you but your Daddy is an idiot. It sounds as though he voted for Bush twice (three times if he lived in Ohio). Democrats are far too cowardly to be weak on defense.

This is a country that spends as much on “defense” as the rest of the world put together, allies included. Yet its politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, are always clamoring for more to be spent. It is a country that complains about “waste, fraud and abuse” in government, yet barely responds to the fact that our military establishment is the epicenter of waste, fraud and abuse. It is a country that claims to be peace loving, but has been in virtually constant warfare for the past 65 years.

Weak on defense? Don’t I wish.

Q---Is Barry Bonds’ breaking of Hank Aaron’s homerun record legitimate?

A---Your mistake is in thinking that Bonds broke Aaron’s record. He didn’t. He set his own. Aaron, in turn, did not break Babe Ruth’s.

It is a convenient fiction that baseball records from different eras are comparable. They are not.

The conditions under which the game is played evolve constantly. There is the dead ball era, the lively ball era, the era of small parks, large parks, the spitball era, the slider era, the night baseball era, the era of train travel, of thin bats and thick, of weight lifting and batting helmets, high pitching mounds and low. Under these shifting conditions, no two records can have the same weight. Bonds has dominated the steroid era. That’s all you can say.

In any case, a nation that habitually drugs its children to make them ruly, encourages its women to mutilate themselves in search of youth and whose men extend their sexual lives by chemical means, should not condemn the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes.

Personally, if someone offered me a drug that would make me write like Mark Twain, I’d take it.

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