September 15, 2011
A couple of links I saw at Instapundit that I thought worth passing on:
Freedom is lost by degrees, and the deepest erosions usually take place during times of economic hardship, when those who favor expanding the sphere of government, abuse a crisis to persuade free citizens that they should trade in a little of their liberty for empty promises of greater economic security.
We all remember what Benjamin Franklin said about that trade – that those who would make it deserve neither liberty nor security. But in such cases, when liberty is lost, it is our fault as champions of the Constitution, for failing to mount a sufficiently persuasive and effective defense. And I believe our defense falls short when we fail to connect our timeless principles and values to the urgent economic issues facing the factory worker in Janesville, Wisconsin who is suddenly unable to provide for his family, or, in your case, the recent college graduate who finds herself in one of the worst job markets in recent memory.
We can strengthen our defense of liberty if we remember to keep in mind those who are struggling to make ends meet. What makes our Constitution such an extraordinary document is that, in making the United States the freest civilization in history, the Founders guaranteed that it would become the most prosperous as well. The American system of limited government, low taxes, sound money and the rule of law has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.
Read the whole thing.
So began a long and fascinating acquaintanceship with the man who would become one of the most admired and, later, reviled presidents in U. S. history. Over the next 25 years, our paths crossed again and again, most recently in his Dallas office last April. I had just read Bush’s 2010 memoir Decision Points, and I was struck by his many references to history. In the back of my mind was an article that Karl Rove had written for The Wall Street Journal in 2008, which revealed (much to the consternation of the president’s derisive critics) that Bush had read 186 books for pleasure in the preceding three years, consisting mostly of serious historical nonfiction. Intrigued, I asked Bush whether he would talk to me about how his passion for reading history had shaped his presidency and perspective, and he agreed.
When I sat down to write about that meeting, however, a different story emerged. History is composed of significant and less significant moments, the trouble being that we often don’t know at the time which is text and which is footnote. Yet when it comes to presidents, even footnotes are worth recording. I realized that what I had before me was a story that went beyond politics or policies or the reading habits of a president, an idiosyncratically personal story, a footnote-to-history story spanning a quarter-century.
I don’t agree with everything George W. Bush did as president, but I think he was one of the best human beings to hold that office. His example of handling criticism is one that most of us could learn from.