Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » September 2004 » Thought for the Day:

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09/22/2004: Thought for the Day:

George W. Bush doesn't like speaking at the United Nations. You can see it in his eyes—the flicker of perplexity, bordering on distress, when he recites a line that draws surefire cheers on the campaign trail but only blank, distant stares from the assembly of world leaders.

This morning's speech wasn't as dreadful as the one he gave last year, but it suffered from the same basic inadequacy: He catalogs some of the world's problems, then suggests nothing—not the vaguest plan of action—for how to deal with any of them.

An address before the U.N. General Assembly is, by nature and expectation, a gush of bromides. But given that President Bush has recently begun to realize that he needs help with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terrorism, you would think he'd muster something more energizing than this:

Because I believe the advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world, today I propose establishing a Democracy Fund within the United Nations.... The fund would help countries lay the foundations of democracy by instituting the rule of law and independent courts, a free press, political parties, and trade unions. Money from the fund would also help set up voter precincts in
polling places and support the work of election monitors. To show our commitment to the new democracy fund, the United States will make an initial contribution. I urge all other nations to contribute as well.
The first insult here is that the United Nations already has agencies for much of this work. The second is that Bush doesn't even put a dollar figure on his "initial contribution." It's as if he were proposing that his most ambitious project—the global propagation of democracy—be funded through the March of Dimes.
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 09.22.04 @ 07:31 AM CST

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