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By Mandelman


I’ve seen my government screw up quite a few things in my lifetime… enough so that a bar set at a height a toddler could easily clear could be said to represent my expectations today. Of course, I was born during the early years of the Vietnam War, so it’s not like the years ahead were destined to have any chance of being called the “Age of Competence” where government was concerned.

Nixon’s “price and wage freeze,” which started out as a 90-day measure taken to control of what was seen as out-of-control inflation when it remained above 4 percent throughout 1971, ended more than 1,000 days later with inflation solidly into double digits. And a couple years later, Watergate was… well, what can anyone say about that mélange of malfeasance and discomfiture that was entirely unnecessary in light of Nixon’s landslide victory to a second term in 1972.

I remember clearly watching the footage of our anything but orderly departure from South Vietnam. It had the same sort of je ne sais quoi one might expect at a Black Friday Sale, the moment the doors opened at a Wal-Mart in New Jersey. You might get out alive, but there was no question about the experience being life-threatening.

While President Gerald Ford was running against Ronald Reagan in 1976, when during the second debate I watched him tell the country: “Eastern Europe is not occupied by communists,” I knew for sure that intelligence was not a pre-requisite for becoming the leader of the free world.

By the time a group of students in Iran succeeded at taking over our embassy, I wasn’t all that surprised, but I would not have predicted that they would be able to hold Americans hostage for 444 days, until I watched the abortion of Operation Eagle Claw. The rescue mission not only failed, but it failed to get off the ground… destroying the two aircraft involved and killing eight servicemen, while never coming close to engaging an enemy.

President Reagan did some things that led to prosperity for some, me included, but he also left office with a national debt three times the size it was when he arrived, his spending cuts, among other things, became famous for putting the mentally ill on the streets as part of the growing homeless population, he managed to all but ignore AIDS for almost a decade, …read more

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