A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Friday, October 17, 2003 :::
A Mind That Suits must be productive today, so two quick comments.

When Leadership is the Most Important Thing

A survey appearing in Stars and Stripes , the famous newspaper for our troops, is generating some news. It is not scientific, and the Washington Post survey covered most of the issues involved in interpreting the data.

In fact, perhaps the most realistic comments come from Eliot Cohen, whose military theories played a big role in shaping the Administration’s flawed strategy during the war: 64% satisfaction rate among troops remarkably high. However, as the article also points out, the proof will be when re-enlistment time comes. This is why fantasies of "what are we waiting for" regarding Syria and Iran are just that; with what would we possibly attack them? Syria has the same economic system as Iraq did, so where will we find the people to govern Syria? Iran is a basket case, so ditto.

But the most telling thing is that among the ones that are vocally dissatisfied, it is the lack of clear mission that frustrates them the most. This is why the month-long August vacation by the Commander-in-Chief comes close to inexcusable, as does the overall silence of the Administration in recent months. Bush has proven he can lead, so now would be a good time to start again.

The truly remarkable news is that the reports inspired words of actual humility from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. This may be the best development yet.

In the coverage of the anniversary celebrations yesterday, the secular press proved it is not quite up to the task yet, although it is better than it was. As news started pouring in, the Post ran pictures and captions provided by the Associated Press, and they had trouble with the word "exhortation." Several captions, now gone, came up, all of them slightly off. The first caption had something like "The Pope signs a ruling on an exhortation to bishops." Huh? "A ruling on an exhortation." Hmmm. He signed an exhortation. Most exhortations are unsigned and short, as in, "Clean up your room now!" or "Come on, Freddy, you can make it!" This Pope's tend to be longer, and in the form of letters, and anything he does officially must be signed.

One headline, also gone, brought back memories of the old joke about the Washington Post. ( Headline "World Ends !!: women, children affected most.") The economic issues spelled out in that very Apostolic Exhortation were given prominence, when in fact they are a bit buried in the text. The headline is now gone from the website, and the Post is a much better newspaper than it used to be. A number of conservatives, including the brilliant Stanley Kurtz, are unashamed to admit that they use it for breaking news, as does this conservative. The Post 's own coverage of the anniversary, by chief Rome correspondent Daniel Williams, was quite good.

And the normally reliable Wall Street Journal this morning provides a survey of the Catholic Church through the usual bi-coastal filter that those whose views were set in 1971 are "young," and those who disagree are "old," even if they were born in 1987. Completely missing is the overwhelming evidence that this Pope has touched the younger generation in a deep way, and that they are in every way more conservative than the generation currently running things. On France, the reporters completely missed the massive World Youth Day in Paris in 1997, when 800,000 French kids showed up unexpectedly after then- Prime Minister Leonel Jospin had sneered that the event would only attract foreigners, as French children were "educated." They dwelt instead on the rather tired story of a French bishop who was fired. And they neglect to mention that, judging by adult converts, (about 180,000 per year), the Catholic Church is far and away the fastest growing religious group in the United States, and that excludes confirmations of the children of immigrants. Nor do they appear to be aware of the tremendous rift between older, "Spirit of Vatican II" priests and younger "JPII" priests. It left this writer with the memories of Walter Mondale, who felt that the way to appeal to youngsters in 1984 was to use "Teach the Children Well" as his theme song. The "young" people who thought that song was "deep" are now grandparents.

The story of the French bishop who got fired is remarkable in two ways: first, this Pope has fired virtually no one, so the guy must have been really actively seeking it. And secondly, the Vatican found an interesting way to punish him. Somebody found an ancient diocese in North Africa that had no bishop and had long since been forgotten. It was not just that there were no longer any Catholics living there, as the Journal reports, but that there are actually no human beings of any sort living there at all, at least so far as the responsible government reports. He is now bishop of that, so he has a website which he runs from France.

Ah, well, on to productivity. THose were awfully long quick notes.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:02 AM



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