We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Six months after Roosevelt uttered those words, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Over the next four years, FDR and Winston Churchill led America and its allies against the combined forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan, the gravest threat to freedom the world has ever known.
President Bush calls himself a "war president," so let's see how he measures up. Then: an enemy composed of the massive and well-equipped armies, navies, and air forces of three world powers. Now: an enemy network of scattered terrorist cells led by a frail, aging Muslim living in a cave.Then: Enemy weapons included missiles, tanks, submarines, bombers, fighter planes, battleships. Now: Enemy weapons include machine guns and improvised roadside bombs in Iraq; the threat of a stealth bomb exploding somewhere else.
Then: Enemy prisoners were treated according to the Geneva conventions. Now: Enemy prisoners are held indefinitely, taken to secret prisons, and subjected to abuse. Then: Americans were asked to sacrifice by rationing gasoline and other vital supplies. Fighting was done by those who volunteered or were drafted, regardless of income or status. Corporations geared up to produce war materials. Now: Americans pay higher prices for gasoline. Fighting is done by an all-volunteer Army composed of young people from lower-income families and the National Guard. Corporations gear up to reward shareholders with enormous profits from higher gas prices, war profiteering, and tax cuts.
Then: Led by its charismatic president, the country united as one and rose up to defeat the threat of world dictatorship. Now: Led by a president who can barely smirk his way through a complete sentence to prescreened audiences of supporters, the country is bitterly divided over the war, economic policy, and constitutional issues.
And why is that? Simple. While our soldiers are dying on their feet every day, too many of our political "leaders" are living quite happily on their knees.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor