Early autumn headlines

Under the headline “Why We Need a Third Party,” Washington Post columnist Matt Miller condemns both the Democratic and Republican parties for being “prisoner to interest groups” whose chief aim is “to win elections, not solve problems.”

Some deep thinking there. Miller goes on to list unemployment, the budget, healthcare and education as problems “we need to truly fix,” then quotes the late Sen. Pat Moynihan saying, “If issues can’t be discussed, they can never be advanced.”

What’s needed to bring about “a new politics of problem-solving,” writes Miller, is a third party that would offer “candidates with the vision and nerve to fill today’s void.”

Now why didn’t I think of that? Possibly because my thought waves were hung up on a New York Times headline from September:

PLAN WOULD KEEP MILITARY
IN IRAQ BEYOND DEADLINE


My, what a surprise that was — along with a Post headline the same day that expressed the Pentagon’s view that we’re involved in an “endless war.”

In his 2010 book Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich predicted it all, down to the matter of American lawmakers, Democrat and Republican alike, approving billions per month to build roads, hospitals and schools overseas, while ignoring the need to build roads, hospitals and schools here at home.

And more: “With current Pentagon outlays running at something like $700 billion annually,” wrote Bacevich, “the United States spends as much or more money on its military than the entire rest of the world combined,” with “approximately 300,000 troops stationed abroad occupying 761 ‘sites’ in 39 foreign countries.”

There lies a “problem,” one would think, that third-party advocates like Miller would add to their list of things “we need to truly fix.”

But no — the Post columnist, while purporting to speak with “vision and nerve,” is no better than the issue-dodgers he criticizes when it comes to confronting what our last soldier-president, Dwight Eisenhower, called “the military-industrial complex.”

Why is it that the only politicians willing to do that, e.g., Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, are widely derided as kooks? A ventured guess: Because, Mr. Miller, when the “problem” involved is the Bush-Obama doctrine of “endless war,” what America needs isn’t a third party — it’s a second party.