Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Friend in the White House

On The Nation's web site, Bill Moyers talks about his father who never made over $100 a week in his life and voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four elections "because the President's my friend."

As a Depression child a decade older than Moyers, I can top that--my father never made more than $55 and worked up to 60 hours a week for it.

Our paths, Moyers' and mine, crossed in the 1960s and 1970s when he worked in Lyndon Johnson's White House and afterward as a commentator for CBS and NBC before finding a home in public television. As the voice of Americans who work hard for what they get, he has always been his father's son.

"My father got it," Moyers says "when he heard his friend in the White House talk about how 'a small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor--other people's lives.' My father knew FDR was talking for him when he said life was no longer free, liberty no longer real, men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness--against economic tyranny."

Contrast this with Moyers' assessment of Karl Rove who "modeled the Bush presidency on that of William McKinley, who was in the White House from 1897 to 1901, and modeled himself on Mark Hanna, the man who virtually manufactured McKinley. Hanna had one consummate passion--to serve corporate and imperial power...that businessmen should run the government and run it for personal profit."

Whoever takes over the White House next will be somebody's friend. The questions won't be as simple as they were in the last century or the one before that, but voters might want to give a thought to Moyers' father and Rove's role model before they make their choice.

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