(God how I hate that title…)
But Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is truly a fascinating read. When I picked it up, I expected it to be some dry boring commentary on how Lincoln was so great and his rivals were numb skulls with the brains of flowers and the ferocity of squirrels…(you get my point).
To my greatest delight, while there still was incessant praise for Lincoln’s character, goodwill, and political maneuverings, she treated the other Republican candidates justly. Her storytelling is masterful; leading the reader through each of the character’s situations, reflecting on how their actions lead to ultimate defeat (or success in Lincoln’s case). The scenes are crafted to easily let the reader imagine he/she is also cheering among the throngs at conventions.
But enough of that.
Let’s talk about politics. Or more specifically, the past and the future. To be a successful statesman back in the day, one had to have excellent command over the spoken word and the written word – one had to have a vigor, a charismatic quality to their speaking. While Seward (Lincoln’s rival, Governor of New York back then) had an explosive quality, a charming, enthusiastic rhetoric, Lincoln was more reserved but no less compelling with his carefully chosen words and analogies.
Nowadays, leading political figures do not write their speeches. To write a speech about a topic, one actually has to do research. The lack thereof is quite a pity. Perhaps that’s why we have statesmen like Rick Santorum who think ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a travesty and a secret plot to undermine the golden sanctity of American independence. Clearly this will bring down the Statue of Liberty and reduce our beloved democracy to shambles. Clearly.
Yes Mr. Santorum. Think on your life. Think on your choices.
But besides that misguided opinion, my issue is with his clear lack of common sense as a statesmen. Alright, sure, maybe he doesn’t like the measure, maybe he thinks the United States is better off without joining in on the agreement. But Mr.Santorum, how effective are UN conventions? How effective are global agreements that are just affirmations of principles and no required actions?
The Convention, as far as I can tell, is a broad list of “rights of the disabled”. There is no where in there that states that United States must do so-and-so or suffer dire consequences. Signing this convention would beholden the United States to nobody unless the country decides to abuse its disabled population (which I surely hope will never happen).
Recognizing this fact, Mr.Santorum should have convinced his party to ratify the convention in order to improve the public image of the Republican party ( their GOP makeup was disastrous: i.e. rich old white people sniff at the rights of immigrants, gay people, and women). A second reason is to express a sign of goodwill of the Republican party – that no, they are not just going to always butt heads with the Democratic party (ahem. John McCain, looking at you).
The cost of simply ratifying a rather lacking in substance global agreement versus the cost of once again, showing the nation that the Republican Party has the brains of flowers and the ferocity of a rabid squirrel, is far lower.
In this aspect, President Lincoln was a far better politician – he knew when to shut up and when to make his case. Mr.Santorum should take a leaf from President Lincoln’s page.