Friday, September 15, 2006

Curb Your Gratification

I know this David Brooks column is about Bush and The War, but I'm still puzzling over this statement:

"I got into politics initially because I wanted to help change a culture," he (Bush) says, referring to his campaign against the instant gratifications of the 1960's counterculture. And he sees his efforts today as a series of long, gradual cultural transformations. Like many executives, he believes that the higher you go, the further into the future you should see, and so his conversation is filled with speculations about the long-term effects of deep social trends--the current religious awakening or the politics of volunteer armies.

What does this mean? If Bush wants or wanted to change the culture by challenging the "instant gratifications of the 1960's", who is the target of such a challenge? How is it implemented? More importantly, is it working? Are you delaying your gratification?

Now, I realize Bush has used this line in front of friendly campaign audiences. But I assume, and I trust you'll assume, that he probably didn't intend for his audience to think he meant them. Everyone knows conservatives are good, responsible people who curb their gratification. But if he's making these statements in front of audiences that don't need to be told to curb their gratification, than how does the message to curb your gratification get out and the culture get changed?

On the other hand, maybe some Republicans did need to hear the president's curb your gratification speeches.

Speaking of rich republicans, how do tax cuts fit into this picture? Is more cash on hand good for curbing one's gratification? Or what about those calls after 9/11 to keep doing what we've been doing, like keep going to malls, spending money and buying stuff?

Maybe the curb your gratification agenda was about welfare reform, and now that that's been disposed of, we can get back to the business of unleashing our gratification.

Or is this curb your gratification plan not about welfare, corruption, money or consumer zeal at all, but rather just about our sexual mores? If so, how does the president plan on curbing our gratification of the flesh?

Conservative judges who strike down previously permissive court rulings, or who strike down or fail to strike down congressional legislation depending on the needs required by the curb your gratification movement probably help here. But in Bush's tenure, the court seems to have mostly sided with the unleash your gratification crowd, like in the case where the court voted to overturn the anti-sodomy law in Texas. Of course now that Bush has gotten two conservatives on the bench, this will change, and the curb your gratification plan will finally be implemented.

But I'm still a bit confused. How would we know if American had gotten the curb your gratification message? Maybe a military draft would help. It would help curb young peoples' gratification by sending them off to war instead of off to colleges (and we know what goes on there). A military draft would also help in the president's war on terror, war in Iraq, war against militant radical islamicist fascistists.

In any event, I look forward to more presidential speeches and news conferences where the curb your gratification agenda is spelled out in more detail, and its violators appropriately chastened.

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