From Bob Herbert’s column in today’s Times:
The symbols of patriotism — bumper stickers and those flags the size of baseball fields — have taken the place of the hard work and sacrifice required to keep a great nation great.
You know that matters have gotten out of hand when, as we learned this week, American instructors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, gave classes on torture techniques used by the Communists to extract false testimony from American prisoners during the Korean War.
Talk about defining deviancy down! As Al Gore reminds us, this is the first time in American history that “the executive branch of the government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War.”
There are signs galore of the nation’s turn for the worse. We are fighting a debilitating war in Iraq without any idea of how to pay for it — or how to end it. No one has any real idea about how to cope with the devastating energy crisis, or how to turn the economy around.
The airline industry is a first-class mess and the knees of the General Motors colossus have buckled. Locks are being changed on foreclosed homes across the country and working families lucky enough to meet their mortgages are watching the value of their homes decline.
We can build spectacular new stadiums for football and baseball teams (the Yanks, the Mets, the Giants and the Jets are all getting ready to move into staggeringly expensive new homes) but we can’t rebuild New Orleans or reconstruct the World Trade Center site destroyed almost seven years ago.
The feint glow of the silver lining here is that yesterday was Bush’s last Independence Day as our president. Obviously, much thought and hard work are necessary to rescue our country from it’s depths, but competent leadership will help immensely.