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Thursday, December 07, 2006

When Will We Stop Trying to Grow "The Roses of Success"?

"Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you'll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!"

Star Tribune editor Doug Tice dropped in recently on Eric Black's "Big Question" blog to wring his hands over the lack of optimism in the last election... particularly among Democratic voters:

Optimism about America’s future declined sharply among Democratic voters between 2000 and 2006. Fewer than half as many Democrats told pollsters they thought life will improve for the next generation of Americans on November 7 than had thought so on Election Day 2000. Republicans were a bit more pessimistic, too, but only a bit.

It’s hard to doubt that the darkening Democratic mood over recent years is (like so much else?) Bush’s fault.

The dreariness among Democrats would seem to reflect the distress, anger and frustration so many liberals have felt and expressed about the Bush presidency, the war in Iraq and the general conservative direction of public policy in recent years.
There has long been something mysterious and hard to comprehend about the apocalyptic depths of this anti-Bush feeling, at least for those who don’t fully share it. But the Pew numbers are further evidence that it is for real.

But is there more than that in these numbers? Is optimism an inherently Republican attitude? Are Democrats pessimists at heart?

William Prendergast of the Stillwater Tribune and the Dump Bachmann blog comments:

I laughed when I read that, too. It’s still “mysterious” to people like Doug why the anti-Bush feeling runs so deep.

Amazing, that anyone could still be puzzled about why anti-Bush feeling runs so deep. A recent article quotes five respected historians–they compare his presidency with previous ones and four out of five of them list GWB as among the worst presidents ever. (The fifth dissenting historian, who disagrees, is a former Bush speech writer. He points out that Bush passed NCLB and a prescription drug bill–which small- government consevatives despise.)

Doug–it’s no mystery why so many people despise Bush. It’s his awful leadership. Read the guy’s autobiography, “A Charge to Keep”–it’s the story of a nothing man, promoted into power through his personal charisma and his family’s heavy connections. The biggest thing he ever achieved personally, all by himself, was to stop drinking in order to save his marriage. That’s not a qualification for leadership of the United States of America.

And then you have his record as President–the loss of the WTC and the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon, campaigning to actively promote the election of the Republicans for Congress, a Congress that the voters just dismissed en masse for corruption and conservative hypocrisy at the highest levels–and the war in Iraq, a cynical con job selling it to America, and an absolute disaster in its execution.

And you’re still puzzled by the depth of this anti-Bush feeling?


Bill Prendergast is obviously a pessimist or more accurately, a realist. Realists are shunned in our society which in large part is based on the notion that no task is impossible and the nearly impossible tasks are the ones to accomplish first... like building space colonies on the moon or a war to "free Iraq".

I recently discovered on You Tube a video produced by British animator and blogger Tim Ireland that parodies the overblown optimism of the folks who brought us the Iraq War:

The tune "Roses of Success" comes from the movie version of Ian Fleming's story "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The song was written by the Sherman Brothers who wrote many songs for Walt Disney in the golden age of optimism that followed the Second World War. Among their familiar tunes are "Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins" and that hopeful theme park classic "It's a Small World". In this You Tube video, you can hear "The Roses of Success" being sung by the wacky, but ever-optimistic inventors in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

I don't think optimism is the problem, I think that optimism has been hijacked by some folks to make a buck... and the major media is mostly to blame. If the major media had been skeptical about the reasons we went to war, it is possible the disaster could have been avoided. But, nothing sells newspapers like a war.

And it's not just war. The media hypes all kinds of boondoggles that either go belly-up or end up costing gazillions of dollars. For instance here in Minneapolis, we're building stadiums while closing libraries... and that product of misguided optimism is a bipartisan effort.