Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Monumental Task

David Brooks’ latest hairball masquerading as thoughtful rumination is about leadership, using the various Washington monuments as metaphors for how we’ve forsaken blind following for questioning authority:

To have good leaders you have to have good followers — able to recognize just authority, admire it, be grateful for it and emulate it. Those skills are required for good monument building, too.

I was all set to rip it to shreds when I came across Charlie Pierce’s column and decided that there was no way I could top him. So I won’t even try.

Even the more successful recent monuments evade the thorny subjects of strength and power. The Vietnam memorial is about tragedy. The Korean memorial is about vulnerability. Why can’t today’s memorial designers think straight about just authority?

Only a coddled foof like David Brooks, who learned everything he knows about “the Sixties” in the lunchroom of Mr. Murdoch’s startlingly advertising-free little political fanzine, could write this about the Vietnam Memorial. Tell you what, Dave, you go down there some time and tell the guys walking along the wall, the guys in the fatigue jackets who leave cigarettes and whiskey and Grateful Dead CD’s on the ground near their buddies’s names, or the now grown children who still come and leave old teddy bears, that the problem with the memorial is that it does not says something clear and direct about “authority.” Of course, “authority” ran into a little credibility problem during our happy two decades muddling around Southeast Asia. Maybe if we put up a memorial to the Gulf Of Tonkin Episode nearby he’ll be happy.

There’s much more where that came from, but here’s my $0.02: if we want good leadership, we have to choose leaders who do more than feed our fears and greed until the next election. Build a monument to that.