Johnson City Press Thursday, July 30, 2015
SNEAK PEEK: Take a first look at our new site and tell us what you think. »
Columns Community Voices


March 17th, 2014 10:15 am by Larry French


In his “Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defines politics as, “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”
Masquerading is roughly defined as “one who moves about under false pretenses,” while a contest of principles — in the political sense — could, however, be defined that no matter the outcome of the contest, politicians will observe their own self-governing rules of conduct for their own personal gains and benefits while telling the rest of us where to go.
It’s as if politicians subscribe to their own religion for self-enlightenment.
In other words, politicians — whether elected or appointed — will serve themselves, be devoted to themselves and comply with their own rules because in the end, it’s all about them. They consider themselves gods, while voters have simply become vexatious sinners. In the grand political scheme, that grand masked ball, we’re merely extras in Verdi’s opera.
Remember though, politicians have our best interest at heart. That’s why they’re masquerading in politics. Of course, we already know they have no principles; however, when compared to some politicians of yesteryear, that fact is indisputable.
President Harry S. Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” This of course, explains why nothing ever gets done in Washington these days. It’s the old blame game. No one takes responsibility for his or her mistakes, yet everyone wants a piece of that personal gains pie. It’s called “masquerading” in politics.
Unfortunately, leadership qualities as exhibited by Truman are non-existent, too.
“Men make history,” Truman said, “and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Leadership today in the White House is non-existent, and society is standing still. President Obama is not concerned with the economy or jobs, and he certainly isn’t courageous and has failed to change things for the better.
When it comes to Obama’s foreign policy, however, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and opinion page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Paul Greenberg said it best: “This administration’s foreign policy seems a completely ad-hoc, make-it-up-as-you-go-along affair, as feckless as it is pretentious.”
Fortunately, this nation’s 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former five-star general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II, didn’t rely on makeshift solutions, but rather had a plan when it came to governing. “I have one yardstick,” he said, “by which I test every major problem — and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?”
Next to Eisenhower’s, Obama’s measuring device is about an inch long, which may be an overexaggeration. No matter how you measure it though, it’s certainly not good for America. It all falls back on how good he can make himself look. Hubris. And, yes, that too would be called masquerading in politics.
In addition, there’s this administration’s idea about income equality, whereby the middle class is eliminated. It’s obvious then our current president is not a student of history, otherwise he would have heeded Woodrow Wilson’s advice. “America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal — to discover and maintain liberty among men.”
Our nation’s credibility and respect is in the tank. Other nations and their leaders scoff at us. And, other than a few idle threats leveled at Syria, Russia and Iran, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, “We are entering an era where American dominance ... can no longer be taken for granted.”
Not very reassuring for a one-time superpower. Nevertheless, there’s not much Hagel can do either because he’s masquerading as the Secretary of Defense. Calling Robert Gates.
We could, however, call on God for some divine intervention, except the president has screwed that up, too.
At a recent national meeting of Organizing for Action, Obama told a group of young volunteers who were being deployed to persuade Americans to sign up for health insurance plans before the March 31 deadline that “The work you’re doing is God’s work.”
How quickly some masqueraders forget their past. But, of course, (“Their) conduct of public affairs (is) for private advantage.” This is the same Obama who’s still trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their religious beliefs. I presume there’s some irony in his statement, however, I’m not sure God’s laughing. While God may have a sense of humor (hopefully), Obama’s statement flies in the face of irreverence. Yes, America, Obama is masquerading as the president.
Today, there are too many politicians masquerading in politics, and with the mid-term elections gearing up across this great nation, it’s time for the masked ball to come to an end. Bring the curtain down. Hold elected officials accountable. Become involved in the political process.
And, while we may not succeed in turning them all out to pasture, we certainly will get their attention. Otherwise, the masquerading will continue, and it will be as Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Larry French lives in Butler. He is a
member of the Society of Professional Journalists and teaches composition and
literature at East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College.
You may reach him at

comments powered by Disqus