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Smart Presidents, stupid commissions.

Reader comment on item: America's Know-Nothing Diplomacy [article]

Submitted by Michael S, Nov 10, 2016 at 08:28

Hello, Daniel

The examples you cite are interesting. Woodrow Wilson was the President of Princeton, an Ivy League college. George W. Bush was a Skull and Bones frat boy from Yale. If they had personally taken up the task of investigating the Middle East situation, they would have fared far better than their appointed commissions. These presidents had adequate knowledge, but fuzzy judgments.

Contrast these with Ronald Reagan, an actor and sportscaster educated in Disciples of Christ-oriented Eureka College. He intervened in Lebanon in the 1980s. Whether he did so after appointing a commission, I don't know; but as soon as he realized he was in way beyond his depth, he yanked our surviving servicemen out of there and never went back. He didn't have the education and knowledge of Wilson and Bush; but he had character and common sense.

As I write this, leaders around the world are all guessing what sort of deal they'll be able to get out of President-elect Donald Trump, a business major from U of Penn. We'll see how he operates. I know he will seek out wise advisors, as he did in choosing Mike Pence as his running mate. Whether or not he listens to them is anyone's guess. One thing is very likely, though: I doubt that he will depend on commissions, "know-nothing" or not, in making foreign policy decisions. I expect him to be more like Ronald Reagan (and also Harry Truman, in an earlier generation), and follow his deepest instincts.

As to the election, I am most pleased, that Republicans will have the say-so in the next two years, to appoint Supreme Court judges. That, in itself, has answered a great concern in me and many others.


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