Wednesday, October 06, 2004

USA Veeps' Debate

What I found especially notable regarding this debate of last night, was the Quaker Meeting the PBS exec managed to stage at the outset. Three or more minutes of silence, while the candidates wrote furiously, and then gave up. The audience sat hushed. Brilliant. Of course you had to be watching on C-SPAN to see any of this. I got it on tape.

As for the debate itself, now that it's over, I'm not sure whether Cheney is going to show his amazing leadership skills before or after some major USA city is lost to a thermonuclear device. I know that during such an event, he'd be safely under some mountain somewhere. But the day after, what is he telling us? That he would not have any qualms about taking out some other city in retaliation? Would it be on the basis of evidence as flimsey as in his brief for the war in Iraq? Would the nation he attacked be effectively defenseless against US fire power, as Iraq certainly was?

Edwards came off as more conservative. He kept wanting to turn the screws on Iran, but maybe that's because he's been reading the rumors that Chalabi was a double agent and set this administration up to do Iran's dirty work. That's certainly one of the conspiracy theories going around, and in the case of Chalabi, it's not all that unbelievable (although I more tend to think he really expected to have a big following among the Iraqi natives -- as an expat, he didn't realize he'd be so out of step). More believable to me was this other FBI story: that neo-cons are in bed with Sharon's Likud. Was that ever in doubt? They'll call you anti-semitic if you say it -- that's only a weak defense, as far as the FBI is concerned (the law is pretty clear, when it comes to the unauthorized sharing of highly classified materials with leaders of a foreign power -- especially when the planning involves taking the USA to war).

Back to Quakers: what cursory histories may miss, when thinking about early Quaker history, is that George Fox was beloved by the military. That also comes through in his friendship with William Penn, a military man. George wasn't a "peacenik" in the sense that he'd have any problem strolling around the Pentagon, hob-knobbing with the locals, regardless of rank. He was a peace-through-strength kinda guy, which type maybe they don't meet so often in the Pentagon, but I got the impression Col. L. Fletcher Prouty was like that (not that he was a Quaker mind you, but he could have been -- he was certainly good on making sure that nuclear war never happened).

Down to our day: Quakers remain attractive to military personnel. I do rotation with ex-Marines, ex-VietVets, all the time. Go to meetings with them, camp, whatever. Because now as before, the Quakers don't seem rabidly against people wearing swords. As George replied, when Penn asked him how long he could wear one, "as long as thou canst."