The Wuss Factor
A new book by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is another display of this man’s savvy proclivity for self-promotion.
However, irrespective of the monstrous ego of this man known in Philadelphia as “Fast Eddy,” Rendell is on target with the alarmingly accurate title of that book: A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.
Wuss is variously defined as meaning timid, weakling and wimp.
While Rendell’s book focuses on political leadership, the term wuss is also applicable to too many of those either elected to, elevated into or having usurped positions within American leadership circles across spheres from academic to scientific, financial to religious.
From the White House to Wall Street, Capitol Hill to state capitals and beyond, the wuss factor reigns.
America’s continuing recession/depression is a prime example of the wuss factor at work.
Elected officials on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue in DC are afraid to take bold steps to revive the economy with proven approaches like government spending on public service/public works jobs.
Instead the wimps coddle discredited strategies like continuing to reduce taxes on the wealthy, corporations and individuals. Those charged with taking charge reward those whose greed-based schemes collapsed the economy.
The wusses in Washington, egged on by inside-the-Beltway media pundits, incessantly push the falsehood that taxing the wealthy would be counter-productive for the economy, claiming such taxation siphons away money that the rich would otherwise use to create jobs.
The wusses contend it’s better to dump more money into the pockets of the wealthy than to dump fair-share tax money from the wealthy into government coffers because, they argue, government is a sinkhole.
Think about how many jobs the wealthy are not creating with the tons of tax-break cash they are dumping into political campaigns where the wealthy are nakedly seeking to elect politicians who will sustain their tax breaks to the detriment of society.
Wealthy conservatives aligned with the likes of power-broker Karl Rove (the puppet master of former President George W. Bush) plan to spend upwards of $1 billion this year to capture the White House and control Congress.
Not a dime of that billion dollars planned for buying power in Washington DC through manipulating the political process will produce jobs for unemployed persons in rural Wisconsin or the inner-city Watts section of Los Angeles.
The wusses in Washington always bray that America – the world’s military superpower – needs to spend a trillion dollars annually on national defense.
The reality is that such military spending simply enriches owners of defense industries while being largely useless when it comes to winning wars in places like Afghanistan, where lightly armed but passionately inspired insurgents have battled the hi-tech U.S. military machine to a draw if not defeat.
A few weeks ago an editorial in the monthly newsletter of AARP (American Association of Retired People) advanced the interesting idea of redirecting a slice of military spending to improve education, reasoning that a better educated workforce with skills matched to 21st Century needs would uplift the economy that in turn strengthens national security.
That editorial suggested that the money saved by buying just seven fewer $200-million-per-plane F-35 jet fighters could allow the purchase of portable computers for every first-grader in America. Buying seven fewer F-35’s still leaves the armed forces with a planned purchase of over 2,440 of this aircraft that is plagued with problems in computer systems and structural components.
The real problem is not how much wrangling the wusses will do over the F-35 program that is already hundreds of billions of dollars over-budget.
The real problem with Washington political leadership wusses and military spending is their refusal to substantially cut the Pentagon’s budget and redirect it to reconstructing America’s crumbling infrastructure. America spends more on its military not just than any other nation on earth, but than all the rest of the nations of the world combined.
The Wuss Factor is not limited to elected officials.
Consider the news-worthy fact that the largest media scandal in the world involving one of the most powerful media moguls in the United States seemingly receives less attention in America’s mainstream media than the latest gossip about Lindsay Lohan.
That surrounds Rupert Murdoch – best known in America as the owner of the Fox News Channel and other Fox media properties, including the Wall Street Journal.
This Murdoch Scandal, now based in England, involves a slew of infractions from ethics to influence peddling to outright crimes that have produced arrests and prison sentences
Revelations radiating from this scandal rocking Rupert Murdoch’s empire in England have ignited an investigation by Parliament, produced arrests and prompted resignations of prominent persons from Murdoch’s newsrooms to London’s Metropolitan Police Department and even the inner-office of British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Wusses in America’s mainstream media dance around Murdoch’s English scandal despite seemingly obvious trans-Atlantic implications.
Further, downplaying the Murdoch Scandal violates a provision in the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics declaring that journalists should: Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media. That provision is included in the Code section titled: Be Accountable.
There are multiple ironies in the title of the book by Ed Rendell, a man who served two terms as the mayor of Philadelphia before later serving two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor.
One irony is that Rendell exhibited wuss behavior throughout his illustrative career, though he mentioned little of that in his book.
Another irony involves Rendell being a lawyer and lawyers are not supposed to lie, according to the ethical and professional standards provisions covering that profession.
In 1978, while Rendell was serving as Philadelphia’s District Attorney, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court castigated Philly homicide prosecutors for “perpetrating a falsehood and fraud” (a/k/a – lying) on that court during a push to win a murder conviction.
The caustic language in that Pa high court ruling included the unusual step of specifically naming Rendell, citing his “misleading” testimony as a prosecution witness during the trial that the court ruling voided. (Rendell had offered his flawed testimony when called as a witness in his capacity as former head of Philly prosecutors’ homicide unit.)
If the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and its professional standards body were not such wusses, Rendell and his prosecutorial confederates would have faced disciplinary procedures, if not disbarment, for their egregious courtroom misconduct cited in that ruling.
Losing a legal license would not have been the best resume builder for a politician aspiring to higher offices.
Holding Rendell and his prosecutorial confederates accountable for the misconduct cited in that Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling would have reduced the likelihood of Rendell’s subsequent climb into the offices of mayor and governor.
Another irony of sorts is that a contender for “Wuss of the Month Award” goes to an entity Rendell once headed: the Democratic National Committee.
The DNC took a dive on the critical gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin, declining to drop needed dimes into the populist driven campaign to removed union busting/middle-class bashing Gov. Scott Walker, a Tea Party-corporate prostitute.
The DNC and its current head justified wimping-out on the stupid assertion that Walker’s recall had little national significance or symbolism.
“Thousands and thousands of people here worked millions of hours in response to which the chair of the DNC offered no money and no help, saying it was a local race with no national implications,” a Wisconsin academic said.
“Conversely, the money flowed in from the RNC and the Republican Governors as well as the Koch roaches etc. who framed it as a very important platform and Mitt Romney declared Walker was “his hero,” the academic noted, expressing disappointment with both the DNC and President Obama for his wimp role on the recall.
Rendell’s self-promoting book may not make it onto any best-selling list but this wuss-infection rampant in America leadership circles is killing this country.
Ultimately though, the real wusses are too many among We The People, who accept and/or ignore the wimps who are ruining things.
Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.