By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 5/7/10
Countries fail because the third post-war generation lacks the courage and determination and sense of continuity in crisis that the first generation (Roosevelt, Eisenhower) had. It is like inheriting money. By the third generation there is nothing left. In fact, those qualities which bring the country out of the despair and back to equilibrium - warrior qualities - are scorned by the third generation. President Obama appealed to the horde in his Mile High speech at the Democratic Convention and this week encourages the mob on Cinco de Mayo. He attacks and seems to abjure the power-building archetype of Wall Street with the low and adolescent theater of televised show trials. So do his first officers, Pelosi, Reid and Barney Frank. Too bad. The result is always the same. When the panic sets in, the country then turns in desperation again for someone unflappable like Roosevelt or Eisenhower. Someone like Mitt Romney. Although it may be said that turning over the country to the founder and captain of Bain Capital is a little like volunteering for receivership. But that could truly be said about Roosevelt as well.
The one thousand point drop in the Dow Jones yesterday shows a country, a world, on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Possibly someone hit the wrong button and sent the world spiraling. The Greek riots promise instability in Europe. China faces bubble problems. My excellent senator Judd Gregg says that California is our Greece.
A historic change can be grafted as a power arc in the rise and decline of England which started when Lord Nelson brought the English-speaking world to dominance over Napoleon in 1805. Then this week it was said that an important shift in the British elections yesterday was when Simon Cowell, the bitchy judge on American Idol, made a desperate pitch for the conservatives in The Sun. It was indeed a critical moment for England and in the absence of Nelson, she found Cowell. If they did not bring in a conservative Parliament, they would not bring in the austerity measures needed to save the currency, to save the stock market, to save England from sinking to the status of Greece. They did not. From Nelson to Cowell. Victoria’s bookends.
Now England is like the noble Duke of York: When they were up they were up, when they were down they were down. But now they are only half way up and neither up nor down.
The royal princes may take a look at Canada. It is great and vast and steady and sober and they still have Don Cherry and Sid the Kid Crosby to shore up the manlies. Us too.