Thursday, January 25, 2007


E.J. Dionne Knows A Real Man When He Sees Him

Testify, E.J.!

In his reply to President Bush's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, Webb defined the two central moral issues that animate most of the Democratic Party's rank and file: the mess in Iraq and the fact that the fruits of a growing economy are not being shared by all Americans.

Then Webb did something rather astonishing: He didn't fudge on his language or try to take the hard edge off his impatience with the status quo. [...] Many Democrats tremble that they will be accused by some right-wing Web site or presidential spokesman of waging class warfare. Webb made clear that there is a class war going on and that the wrong side is winning it.

"When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did," Webb said. "Today, it's nearly 400 times."

Yes, that's a standard sort of line from your standard progressive speech. But then came this arresting sentence: "In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day."

Examine that closely. How many politicians out there raising campaign contributions from rich people are willing to use "boss" instead of a more respectful locution?

And by talking about the time it takes someone to earn a buck, Webb makes it impossible for anyone to forget how vast the inequalities in our society have become.

Webb knows whom he is fighting for. "We're working," he said, "to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons."

On Iraq, Webb did not mince his words about Bush's responsibility. "The president took us into this war recklessly," he declared.

Instead of qualifying this strong statement, Webb backed it up: "He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the Army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command. . . . " The list more than supported Webb's next thought, that "we are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable -- and predicted -- disarray that has followed."

E.J. Dionne knows a real man when he sees him -- perhaps because he is one himself, one of the few remaining in mainstream US journalism.

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