Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

Image result for trump iran deal cartoons

President Trump delivered yesterday on his promise to end the Iran nuclear arms deal, an agreement that involved several countries with the goal of ending Iran's quest for nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting crippling sanctions. This was an election promise by Trump, accompanied by the promise of another and better deal for Americans. The other nations involved including Britain and France wanted the agreement to remain intact but Trump does what Trump does, and guess what? There is no carefully crafted replacement deal.

This is the scary thing about the so-called populist leaders in our world today. They tend to be brash, give the appearance of strength in their "I'm the boss" actions, and feed into the fears of followers who are suspicious about those who are not like them.

The phrase which popped into my head was "nabobs of negativity" although I couldn't remember where it came from. I snooped around and discovered that it is nearly fifty years old and came from William Safire, who at that time was a speech-writer for President Richard Nixon. Safire actually put the words "nattering nabobs of negativitism" into the mouth of the eventually disgraced vice president, Spiro Agnew. Hey, I was close!

Image result for tricky dick nixon cartoons
It was aimed at journalists who were turning up the heat on the Nixon administration about the mess in Viet Nam, but it began a growing mistrust for the media and the supposed political elites. Does this sound familiar? Nixon turned out to be a crook and his government was hiding the failure of its war in South East Asia but the legacy of suspicion has only deepened over time.

It has become commonplace for populist leaders to attack the "fake news" of media who don't support their agendas, as well as the "elites" who seek sober second thought. They are short on articulate, long-game policy even though this crowd-pleasing strategy can be extremely dangerous.

Ontario Election Platforms

To a lesser degree we are seeing this in our current provincial election campaign. Doug Ford, the guy who will probably become premier won't let the media near him and actually creates fake news while he decries traditional reporting. He assures voters he'll reduce taxes but refuses to say how. We now hear that the Ford campaign paid actors to shout his praises as he entered the leaders debate a couple of days ago.

The reality is that the actual "nattering nabobs of negativism" are the populist leaders who are short on policy but big on fear. I don't know who I'll vote for in this election, but I certainly can't vote for a fear-monger. Jesus encouraged us not to live in fear, and to chose love of our neighbour over suspicion and hatred. When it comes to the election, I'll try to figure it out.

Back to the Iran deal. Former President Barack Obama has already spoken out in criticism of the Trump decision, reminding Americans that the current Secretary of Defense disagrees with what has transpired. Here is a portion of what he had to say:

Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA...

...In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.


Do you delight in God's Springtime Orchestra? Take a look and listen at today's Groundling blog

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