Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Armstrong Williams on the Fourth of July

Via Atrios, I read the recent column of this journalist who used to get money from the Bush administration to tout their stuff. He writes this:

The government cannot raise our kids. As Abraham Lincoln observed 130 years ago: "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."

Impressive, isn't it? Seems that Lincoln and Armstrong Williams think exactly the same way! But there is a little snag. As Roger Ailes points out, Lincoln didn't say this or at least there is no proof of that, and if he did say it 130 years ago he talked from the world of the dead.

Later in the same column Williams quotes de Tocqueville:

Early on, these ideas were deeply inscribed in America's self-concept. As French writer and politician, Alexis de Tocqueville noted over a century ago: "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good -- and if America ever ceases to be good - America will cease to be great."

A century later and America is glutted with prosperity, but increasingly empty in spirit. For no accumulation of objects can truly lessen the burden of human anxiety. How do we keep this spiritual numbness from inhibiting and destroying us? The answer is straightforward: we must revel in the greatness of fundamental pleasures: family, civility, and the striving for moral excellence. Therein lies the means by which everyday Americans may ensure the survival of this country.

The de Tocqueville quote is from 1835 which would make "a century later" around the time of the Great Depression. Ironic.

Interesting people the Bush administration employs. Recycling old speeches seems likely here.