Into the Storm
Bobby Kennedy loved to quote Aeschylus, or some such, to the effect that "ships are safe in harbor, but that is not why men build ships." Both Bobby and Aeschylus should have known this: ships are not always safe in harbor. When the storm rises, ships are in danger of being battered in harbor. They must head out into the storm. My French friend recently sent me a wonderful video of a navy frigate heading into the waves. It's an artistic rendering of what sailors must do in perilous seas.
Mitt Romney has just done this in his selection of Paul Ryan as a running mate. Romney clearly understood that his own attacks on the abysmal record of President Obama were not gaining traction. He also understood that whether or not he embraced the Paul Ryan budget, the liberals would try to tie it to him like a tin can on a dog's tail.
He might have tried to find a safe harbor. But he didn't. He brought the fighting Wisconsin congressman onto the platform with him. And let Paul Ryan come out swinging. The only safe course is to head straight into the storm.
Now, we can see for the first time in this campaign a path to victory. Romney can return to the stately and dignified role he fills well, and Ryan can go after Obama's disastrous record as the helmsman who has nearly wrecked the ship. If we are not yet on the rocks, we're headed straight for them. And all the mindless Obama team can say is forward.
Forward toward what? Mr. Obama is now saying he wants to do for all American industry what he did for GM and Chrysler. More bailouts? More government control?
This is not really crony capitalism. It is directed socialism. And it's a disaster. It will give us structural unemployment rates like those of Europe. It invites more corruption and failure like Solyndra. It will blight the prospects of generations to come.
Perhaps the most interesting comment came from Jon Ward on the liberal Huffington Post.
And as Ryan got going into his remarks and warmed up, he gathered momentum. It was clearly evident that Ryan is going to supply Romney with intangibles that favorability polls suggest the candidate has sorely lacked: energy, vigor, emotion, feeling.
"America is an idea. It's the only country founded on an idea," Ryan said emphatically. When he mentioned that rights come from God and not from man -- a bedrock belief of conservative governance -- the crowd broke into lusty chants of, "USA, USA, USA!"
Surely, the belief that our rights come from God and not from man is "a bedrock belief" of conservatives. But only of conservatives? Since when?
John F. Kennedy memorably said: "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God." That was in his inaugural address in 1961.
Thomas Jefferson wrote: "... [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights[.]" That was in his Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Can we really have fallen so far away from our entire history that a belief in natural, God-given rights is now a bedrock belief only of conservatives? It used to be the belief that united all of us. That's why the crowd that cheered Paul Ryan chanted "USA! USA!" and not "GOP! GOP!"
If now only conservatives steer by that polar star, then Barack Obama has already achieved his stated goal of fundamentally transforming this country. How does he want to transform us? We don't need to know what grades he got in college, but it would be most instructive for him to share with the nation which courses he took at Columbia. From Stanley Kurtz's research, we know he attended Socialist Scholars Conferences while he was a student in New York City in 1983. And we know that the formative influence on his worldview as a teenager was Frank Marshall Davis, a life member of the Communist Party. Grove City College professor Paul Kengor has shown the powerful influence of this radical mentor on the future president.
The coming election offers us a rare opportunity for a course correction. When the ship of state seemed in danger of foundering in 2009, Barack Obama steered hard left and took on more water. Now, everyone who loves this country has only one duty. Avoid those rocks and man the pumps.