Scroll down the March 20th edition of Tom Wrobleski’s Strictly Political to a short entry entitled “Off With Their Heads.” The political editor at the Staten Island Advance satirically notes some outrageous comments made recently by our own distinguished Borough President, James P. Molinaro.
In a moment of weakness (or moment of truth), the honorable Mr. Molinaro felt obliged to share his dismay over government inaction, arguing, “benevolent dictatorship is the way you get things done.”
Um, excuse me, comrade?
The article continues: “Democracy doesn’t work, he said. “You can’t piecemeal government. I know I shouldn’t be saying this.” No, he really shouldn’t, but he did, nonetheless.
With both feet now firmly planted in mouth, Mr. Molinaro then delivers this gem: “Will you have corruption? But we have corruption now.” Well, Diamond Jim, since you put it that way.
The context for these little brow-raisers? Mr. Molinaro’s admitted frustration in failing to get a left-turn lane installed after more than a decade of trying, among many other disappointments. Forget that he helped to create the leviathan bureaucracy that encourages little government gimmes like this, but then also can’t get out of its own way when it comes time to fulfill them.
Surely he doesn’t believe that a dictatorship is the conservative, constitutional solution to a bloated, overreaching, underachieving system. The BP was just venting, blowing off steam, right? He wasn’t actually proposing authoritarian government, however benign.
I suppose neither was President George W. Bush when he said in alleged jest: “If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” The context here, too, was frustration with the system. Apparently this was also the case with his political yang, President Barack H. Obama, the renowned industry nationalizing, czar-happy Transformer-in-Chief.
The New York Times reports that Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As one official put it, ‘No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s words in Tahrir Square.’”
To be fair, what these so-called leaders say is unequivocally true. There is no doubt that a dictatorship would make life a lot easier for them, if only this were Tahrir Square, or certainly Tiananmen Square. But this is New York, and we prefer to keep our Times Square just the way it was, thank you.
The real issue, perhaps, is whether political leaders should be saying these things in the first place. A lot of patriots have shed a lot of blood devising, developing, and defending to the death this Constitutional Republic these past 250 years. It is an insult to us all. True, we have also fought and died for the American freedom to say whatever it is we feel, Molinaro included. It is our absolute, natural, God-given right.
Yet it is also the People’s right, indeed our solemn, civic duty, to remain vigilant, and speak out against the undemocratic impulses of any elected official, regardless of context, the appearance of innocence, or the presence of ignorance. And to question: What of their duty? What of their sacred oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of New York State?
Perhaps I have overstated the principle; people say crazy things all the time. Isn’t this really much ado about nothing? Just words? Let us turn to another famous utterance from #44:
“Don’t tell me that words don’t matter. ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words. ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words. Just speeches…”
The point Mr. Obama was making in this speech, of course, is that words do matter. And while they can certainly inspire, they also have the power, thankfully, to illuminate. We should all consider ourselves fortunate to glimpse these public servants as they really think. To know what runs through a person’s mind, as it slips unfiltered past the lips, is genuine godsend.
To wit: when the proverbial S[tuff] Hits The Fan, we’ll know exactly who to keep an eye on during the crisis.
As for the controversy at hand, should Mr. Molinaro apologize? Resign? Be dragged before a grand jury to explain his wistful pining for dictatorial power and process? Old school tar and feathers? That will be left to the People to decide.
However, if the Reader Comments section were any indication, it is equally disheartening to find the residents of this beloved island far more consumed with petty nonsense about who may or may not march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Not a single poster paid heed to the Borough President’s revealing words, preferring instead to alternately bicker about Richmond’s tea party and young democrats club. Apparently this is the new pastime.
I can only say to my well intentioned neighbors: Beware. For when we become so divided over the little things, history hath shewn that we tend to miss the really big, important ones. Remember that ‘divide and conquer’ is the ancient tool of the Tyrant.
“Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.”
Hey, I’m just sayin’.
I’ll give you the last word.
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