Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The 19th century author and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen." I don't presume to interpret Dr. Holmes, but it seems reasonable to me that even the most brilliant among us would do well occasionally to shut up and let the other person finish a sentence. It's not so much about being civil -- though, that's a refreshing thought in these truculent times -- as it is about expanding and enlightening our collective world view. Fresh perspective seldom comes from breathing your own exhaust.

What strikes me most about the ongoing political campaign is the hubris and absence of self-reflection in the Republican strategy. I know we've heard ad nauseam about "more of the same," "McSame," etc. -- so, this is not news. But what I want to know is why do they think that repackaging/rebranding their decades-old exhaust -- and delivering it in loud and obnoxious, gas-guzzling, environmentally unfriendly, "I-got-mine-now-you-get-yours-or-I'll-run-you-off-the-road" style -- is going to breathe new life into our national dialogue?

In stark contrast, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are thoughtful, introspective, and inclusive in their world views. They listen before they speak. They do their homework. They think before they act. They exemplify emotional maturity, strength of character, leadership, and a true appreciation of diversity -- as opposed to the often reckless ambition and disregard for others exhibited by both of the Republican candidates and the "RepRovian" machine, as a whole.

IMHO, one of the most powerful and insightful observations to come out of the DNC this past month was from President Clinton's speech: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." Though Bill Clinton is far from perfect -- and far be it from me to judge him or anyone else -- he is acutely intelligent, perhaps one of the most well-read persons on the planet, and an astute statesman. "America the Beautiful" is not "America the Only." We live in a global community. We need to start acting like it.