Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
All right, you low-down weasel, you vile dog, let’s you and him fight!
That, in a nutshell (or should I say nutjob?), is the basic philosophy of the cowardly barroom troublemaker – and all those fierce champions of liberty who want President Obama to shoot off his mouth on the current upheaval in Iran.
Obama has spoken out against injustice. He has said that the people have the right to choose their government. He has condemned the violence. Surely, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind where the United States stands.
And yet, his critics complain he has been weak and timid. They want him to take sides and flat-out attack the government of Iran. They want some of that red-meat Reagan rhetoric about the Evil Empire.
It has been pointed out that there’s nothing more Obama could say that would have any real effect on the thugs running Iran right now – except to give them a better excuse to kill even more of the brave demonstrators who are fighting for their rights.
Standing on the sidelines screaming encouragement is fun at a football game, for sure. (Perhaps I should put that in a more truly American context: Sitting in the E-Z-Boy lounger with a cold beer, screaming insults at the TV set is fun, for sure.) But it’s not necessarily helpful when people are battling an oppressive government that is eager to brand them “tools of the Great Satan America.”
It may, of course, seem helpful for the political fortunes of those doing the shouting. But attacking the president in the middle of an international crisis in order to further your own political career is … um, what’s the correct word? Unpatriotic? Treasonous? Take your pick.
Those doing all the shouting seem to be big fans of President Teddy Roosevelt – and most especially fond of his famous “Big Stick Diplomacy.”
The Big Stick approach essentially says that the United States has the military/economic Big Stick and will use it to beat our enemies into submission. So a little strong language from the president goes a long way, because those who don’t do as they’re told will get clobbered by that great Big Stick.
Those who are all puffed up with visions of glory as they swing their Big Sticks are missing a few major points. (No, not IQ points – well, yes, IQ points, but that wasn’t what I was getting at.)
First off, these would-be swingers are forgetting the actual source of Roosevelt’s Big Stick: an African proverb that said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Speak softly. Can you hear me now? Speak. Softly.
Just to be clear, that’s the opposite of what these loudmouths are demanding (loudly).
Roosevelt’s approach called for quiet, calm persuasion (sounds like that wimpy Obama guy, doesn’t it?) – backed up with real strength.
These guys are more interested in shooting off their mouths.
And when I say they’re shooting off their mouths, it reminds me of the song immortalizing the early triumph of a really tough president: Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Since we all know that song (“In 1814 we took a little trip …”), I’ll skip directly to the verse in question:
“We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down.
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the ‘gator lost his mind.”
I’m just saying, I think we have more than a few would-be ‘gators out there who have stuffed their mouths with cannonballs and clearly lost their minds.
Frankly, the only sticks most of these guys are shaking are the ones that most men shake when finishing up at the urinal. And those sticks are neither big nor fearsome.
Perhaps more to the point, we all saw how well the Big Stick Loudmouth approach worked when a certain president labeled some countries “the Axis of Evil.”
Now that was a strong statement. And, yes sir, those words sure had a noticeable effect, didn’t they?
Again, I’m just saying, making strong statements and calling names can be fun, but the people in the streets in Iran know the real truth. It’s the truth that goes: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never harm me.
And yet, those attacking Obama seem to take another basic truth and stand it on its head. “Deeds speak louder than words.” We learned that as children, but now this bunch seems to believe that “Words speak louder than deeds.”
How else could they claim that torturing prisoners doesn’t seriously damage this nation – but that a few strong words from the president can topple a dictatorship.
Perhaps they have fallen for their own mythical nonsense, that Reagan saying “Tear down this wall” was really the reason the Soviet Union collapsed.
Of course, for those who believe the Bible is literal, absolute truth, that’s not much of a stretch. Remember the Book of Joshua. All it took was a blast of trumpets and a war cry from the Israelites and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
Now I realize that I am – as a dear very Republican friend once called me – nothing but a word merchant. But I still think deeds count.
And shooting off your mouth leaves you in the same shape as Andrew Jackson’s alligator.
Still, to be clear, I agree that Obama could be making some stronger statements.
Just not on Iran.
I would welcome some fierce rhetoric on the subject of health care – where the Evil Empire of the Insurance Industry needs a few good whacks. And we, the people, need a few good choices, including the so-called Public Option of government-sponsored health insurance.
And while he’s at it, he could smack down the Banking Industry and Big Oil too. And close Gito. And get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Because that’s what we elected him to do.
And, fool that I am, I’m still hoping – hell, I’m still actually believing – that he’s going to get it done.
With a few strong words where they really matter.
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