Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2004 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan 5765

Paul Greenberg

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On changing horses | It's a tired and unsatisfying cliche: Don't change horses in midstream. But what if the horses are being swept away by the current, and the wagon is about to founder? Isn't it better to switch teams rather than allow the whole rig to be carried downstream and straight over the falls?

If you seek the reason why this nation needs a new president and commander-in-chief, one who understands the fine nuances and delicate challenges of this terrible conflict, just look at what has happened during the past year: Casualties have mounted. We have lost more good soldiers with every passing month. The slaughter threatens to be unending, and the enemy shows no sign of surrendering. Despite our seizing huge swaths of territory at a terrible cost, is any part of it entirely safe from the insurgents?

What this deeply divided country needs is a commander-in-chief who has seen actual combat, who understands the cost of war, who is willing to change with time and circumstance rather than bull foolishly ahead. That is why, in this year of decision 1864, the American people need to replace the uncultivated bumpkin who now sits in the White House with someone of experience and understanding who can close the trap on the enemy and get us out of this ruinous war — the Democratic candidate, the Young Napoleon of the West, General George B. McClellan!

This president may have come into office during an economic downturn, but his radical, heedless policies — motivated by his sympathy for only one class of Americans — has made the country's economic condition infinitely worse.

Instead of balancing the budget as he promised, this feckless president has driven the country into a morass of unprecedented debt. His only, unconvincing excuse for such irresponsibility has been the need to spur the economy and defend the country against a gathering threat from abroad — a threat that is largely the result of his own fevered imagination.

Just look at the record and compare the state of the economy now with the boom times of the last decade, when the country enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity:

During that decade, the stock market went stratospheric. Workers who had never before bought stocks invested in America. Budget surpluses stretched from sea to shining sea and as far as the eye could see.

Happy times were here again, and they would have lasted if the country hadn't been seduced by this charlatan in the White House with his crackpot theories. Oh, for those days of wine and roses and irrational exuberance. What a roaring decade that was!

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This year's election affords the American people a chance to reject That Man in the White House, an arrogant leader who, despite his many changes of course, still refuses to acknowledge a single mistake.

In this year of decision, voters should seize the chance to replace a warmonger like Franklin Roosevelt with a leader who understands the fine nuances of economic issues: Alf Landon in '36!

By cruel accident, the United States has had to endure, for almost four long years, a president who was never big enough for the job and grows smaller in stature all the time — a president who came into office by a fluke of history, never having been really elected.

A small man, he grows smaller all the time, and none of his bluster can hide his lack of international stature. There was a time when the United States was widely respected; now he makes us ashamed of our own country with his rough language and the way he rides roughshod over any opposition.

An obscure if feisty politician without any real education or training in foreign affairs, he can't debate but only hollers on the stump, repeating the same blustery slogans at every whistle-stop.

One high-ranking official after another has left his administration complaining about the disastrous decisions he's made. As stubborn as he is mistaken, the man lacks any charm or sophistication or real background at all.

Can anyone really imagine this guy actually being welcomed in the halls of the Quai d'Orsay? If he wins this election, our most sensitive and gifted citizens will scarcely be able to hold their heads up when visiting abroad. Think of the pain they will endure.

What this country needs is a leader of distinction, one who can put a sentence together without just flailing about at the opposition, someone from the East with finesse and legal training. That's why, in this dangerous year 1948, it's important to choose a president who can lead the United States back to respectability in the counsels of the world: Thomas E. Dewey. Remember: To err is Truman!

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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