Putting Politicians in Perspective

Burt Prelutsky
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Posted: Jun 29, 2007 12:01 AM
Putting Politicians in Perspective

There are politicians I like and there are those I don’t like. In some cases, it’s their stand on the issues I take exception to, while with others it’s their personality. In some cases, as with Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, Barbara Boxer and Howard Dean, it’s both.

Of course, being a conservative, it figures that those names all belong to leftists. But when it comes to personalities, I don’t mind admitting I didn’t care for Richard Nixon any more than I did Lyndon Johnson. The man walked and talked as if he’d been put together out of spare parts in Frankenstein’s basement.

During my lifetime, the two presidents I liked best were Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. But, unlike some people, I am not oblivious to the shortcomings of politicians. Not even those I admire. In Truman’s case, he seemed to turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of anyone connected to his administration -- be they Harry Vaughn or Alger Hiss.

Reagan is a special case. For one thing, he had the advantage of having been a professional actor for most of his life. In nearly all cases, he was cast as the good guy, so he had forty years of good will built into the mix. Also, he had some really first rate writers, such as Paul Keyes, writing his material. Even those who objected to his views had to admit he knew how to deliver a punch line.

However, as charming as he undeniably was, I have to hold him responsible for providing illegal aliens with their first amnesty, thus encouraging the 10 or 12 million who have snuck in since the mid-80s.

But even before that, he played a major role in throwing open the doors to the state’s mental institutions. The idea behind the cost-saving measure was to release those patients who were not diagnosed as being criminally insane. It was determined that so long as they took their meds, they would not be a threat to themselves or the general public. Unfortunately, once they were let loose, there was no way to ensure that they remained medicated.

To make matters worse, the media began to refer to those people, not as potentially dangerous paranoiacs and schizophrenics, but simply as the homeless, portraying them as innocent victims of a heartless capitalist society. On top of that, you had the ACLU endlessly battling for their inalienable right to use the sidewalks and alleys of your city as their homes and bathrooms.

As a conservative, it naturally distresses me when it’s Republicans who are responsible for doing the things we’d much prefer being able to blame on the Democrats. So while we can lay Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Clinton’s messy doorstep, we have to acknowledge that it was none other than George W. Bush’s old man who saddled us with David Souter.

One last thing I’d like to get off my chest. Although I don’t recall any of today’s pacifists making too much noise about Bill Clinton’s military excursions into Somalia, Iraq and Serbia, or making a big deal out of the fact that he, who had done all in his power to avoid the draft, was sending Americans into harm’s way, it’s all we’ve heard ever since President Bush committed troops to Iraq. And, if you listen to the likes of Dennis Kucinich, you could easily get the idea that the name on the vice-president’s birth certificate is Chicken Hawk Cheney.

Schlimiels like Murtha and Kerry even brought their medals and old military jackets out of mothballs in a pathetic attempt to prove that their opinions trumped whatever those in the Bush administration had to say on the subject. But if you think about it, that makes no sense whatsoever. After all, isn’t that the same as suggesting that only cops or, rather, old retired cops get to have the final word on crime and crime prevention, and the rest of us should just keep our yaps shut?