by Mark Rhoads
In 1986, then moderately liberal authors Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas wrote an excellent book called The Wise Men about President Harry Truman's key brain trust advisors in the early Cold War era. They were attorneys, bankers, and diplomats Dean Acheson, Charles E.Bohlen, W. Averell Harriman, George F. Kennan, Robert A. Lovett, and John J. McCloy who became architects of American foreign policy regarding the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact for many years to come. They were liberals but not in the modern radical Left Wing sense of that word. They believed in American values and democracy and believed in a United Nations based on those western values that were included in the original UN Charter of 1945.
Their advice and counsel was invaluable to President Truman and later to President John F. Kennedy and a little bit to President Lyndon Johnson. But no modern president since 1967 has been able to recreate any brain trust of similar trusted advisors who had their own independent stature in the country apart from their positions working for government. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Bill Clinton, and Bush 43 never really had the benefit of such a prestigious group of American citizens to advise them. President Obama does not have any similar group and he above all desperately needs one to moderate his politically extremist nature. Instead, he surrounded himself with a second-rate group of Lilliputian staffers from Chicago whose only claim to fame in life was working on his 2008 campaign. But the skills needed to run a political campaign, no matter how good, are still very different skills than those needed to run the government of a superpower. The sad fact, now observed by more and more writers, is that the Chicago campaign staff of President Obama is in way over its head and so is the inexperienced president. A correspondent for The Economist who was on a trip with Obama and staff to China commented that it felt like the Obama campaign bus, with the same characters, was on its way to the next primary state rather than taking an American president on a serious diplomatic mission.
Little else could explain a series of foolish foreign policy gaffes such as pointless insults to allies Britain and Israel, gratuitous apologies for America on almost every trip, idotic protocol mistakes such as the ultra low bows to a Saudi King and Emporer Akihito of Japan, and painfully embarassing mistakes about world history made in public interviews. What passes for a wise man advisor to Obama is someone like billionaire Warren Buffett who has no expertise in anything but making money for himself and Berskshire Hathaway and then giving most of it to Bill and Melinda Gates to spend for him for no particular reason that helps free enterprise in America that has so benefitted all of them. The stratospheric vanity of Barack Obama exceeds even that of Bill Clinton when it comes to refusing to allow any person who is smarter than he is to sit at the same table.
But having said that, it is not all that clear that there are any senior wise men in America still in existence that Obama could call on even if he wanted to tone down his own ego for just a morning. I am not sure where all the wise men have gone but maybe they all died off a few decades ago. Today's leaders of big business do not really themselves believe in America as an exceptional nation where personal freedom counts for much. Their always shallow and short-term view makes them only to happy to lobby the federal government to help them rig the system in their favor against competitors in their field or against competing industries. That's one reaon why the largest insurance companies got everything they wanted from Obama last December when the Reed version of the health care bill passed the Senate. They like the risk-free and profitable idea of becoming a health finance public untility and that is what they will get. Some small business leaders in America do still believe in a free market economy but their views are never welcome at the table with the Fortune 100 because they will not play by the cowardly rules of big business. If wise men ever do come back, they might come from the ranks of new money, not old, and middle size entrepreneurial companies, and not very large of very small ones. They will come from people who not only love freedom in the market place but also love freedom across the board in political action and culture in the context of the rule of law and moral values informed by the Good Lord who is the author of all the blessings America has ever enjoyed in the past.