September 29, 2003

Wesley Clark, Hog Butcher to the World

It was painful to make it all the way through the Wesley Cark speech you can find here . If you want to save yourself the agony, here are the last few graphs. Note the incoherence. And this does not exactly sound like a more modest American foreign policy, or less interventionist. Emphasis added is mine: What I found in people abroad is, they want to be like us. They want for us to respect them the way they respect us. Sometimes they want American assistance, especially if we tell them what to do, which we do on occasion. And on rare occasions, they may want American leadership. When they want that, they're probably going to want troops and police forces to go with it. We might have to do some of that in the years ahead. People have great visions and great dreams about America. And in our own self-interest, we have to live up to these expectations. Now when I was in eighth grade at [inaudible] Heights Elementary School, Ms. Shannon, our eight-grade teacher, made us memorize Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago." Many of you probably did too. And I thought it was about the city. But as I was unpacking up some of my many 4,000 pounds of books and everything else, I found this poem. And as I was avoiding housework, I was rereading the poem. And it occurred to me that it's not about Chicago at all; it's about our country. Let me just read a couple of lines for you: Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler, Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders . . . Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. . . . Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs, Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle . . . You see, that was the vision of America in the early 20th century. And we live that vision. We fought and won two world wars. We kept freedom alive in the face of communism during the Cold War. And we kept he peace. We did fight and get bloodied in Korea and Vietnam, but we made it the American century. Today we are in a new era. It's probably not going to be an era of machine tools, railroads and freight handling, and husky broad shoulders. It's going to be an era based on knowledge, with a knowledge-based economy--chips and data bits, clicks as well as bricks. It'll take nimble minds as well as strong shoulders. But we've got all of that. We've got it more than anybody else in the whole world. We've got it in our country; we've got it here in the state of Arkansas. And I think if we stay engaged and lead, that we'll make the 20th century the American century; the 21st century will be the American century, and the 21st century will be humanity's century as well.


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