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December 23, 2011
One Last Lesson From Vaclav Havel
As we head into Christmas this weekend, there is an odd, but useful, juxtaposition.
Over on my Facebook page, one of my local friends (a former Congressional candidate here in South Carolina who's now serving in the Army) has posted pictures of some of the stuff she took to war with her in Afghanistan's Panjawi District, Kandahar Province. Among them, there's a snap of a Barbie in a wedding dress, complete with paratrooper pin, American flag and Airborne shoulder patch. The caption reads:
"Christmas Eve 1992: Van and I were married at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Chapel during the evening service. We met in 1988, married in 1992, and, four children later, Happy 19th Anniversary tomorrow."
Merry Christmas, Katherine. Thank you for your service. And keep your head down.
Meanwhile, an anxious nation waits to learn...whether President Obama will, indeed, join his family in Hawaii for a $4 million vacation. And has Bo already made one round trip? I hope Mr. Obama does the right thing and goes to Kandahar Province. I'm sure Captain Jenerette and her guys would be glad to see him too.
Here's another portrait in courage.
As I write, I'm watching the BBC's coverage of the funeral of former Czech president Vaclav Havel. President Barack Obama has sent former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to represent him. And a good thing too. This is an instance of good judgment on the Archangel Barack's part.
President Havel, you see, was the real thing. Mr. Obama is the counterfeit.
What matters our President's self-preening vanity and sense of Messiah-hood before the silence of Vaclav Havel's tomb? Havel was a world-historical figure, a poet, political prisoner (four years in a Communist jail), playwright and essayist. A working politician too, a dissident and the leader of the Velvet Revolution, the first "color revolution" in Europe -- an inspiration around the world.
In fine, Vaclav Havel was one of the most consequential men of the second half of the 20th century. Not to mention a lover of jazz, women, beer and rock'n'roll. And cigarettes -- which killed him, as likely as the cigs killed Christopher Hitchens.
Mr. Obama's ambition is to be a world historical figure too. Indeed, from that "60 Minutes" interview, the President seems to think he already is. Mr. Obama's confusion is understable.
After all, when you win the Nobel Peace Prize just for being elected the American president, well, it gives you a false sense of perspective. The passing of Vaclav Havel usefully restores that.
Certainly, if Mr. Obama can secure reelection and protect what he and the Democratic Congress enacted in his first term, he'll be entitled to claim to be the most consequential Democratic president since LBJ. Maybe more. In passing ObamaCare, the fact is that President Obama and the Democratic Congress achieved a goal first announced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.
The rest of the so-called Second Bill of Rights is not far behind, either, if the voters go the Mr. Obama and the Dems' way again.
We shall see. To win re-election in 2012, the President and his handlers intend - as Attorney General Eric Holder's moves on state voter ID laws this week made clear - to set white against black, Latino against Anglo, gay against straight, rich against poor, male against female. All in the name of protecting Hope and Change.
"Politics," Henry Adams wrote in his Autobiography, "[is] the systematic organization of hatreds."
If nothing else, our current President has learned that lesson well. I prefer the lessons taught by Vaclav Havel.
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