No Comment — June 8, 2007, 9:30 am

A D-Day Lesson

This week we mark the 63rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion that commenced the liberation of continental Europe. Earlier this week, the editors of the Washington Post provided a reminder of decisive leadership in the form of Dwight David Eisenhower. As the invasion drew near, Ike wrote a statement – what he would say if the invasion floundered and failed – and put it in his wallet. The statement was very simple. This is what it said:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

These are the words and deeds of a true leader.

And on this anniversary of D-Day, the Senate entertains the nomination of Lieutenant General Doug Lute, to be “the full-time manager for the implementation and execution of our strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan.” The job was created, we learn, at the instigation of a number of figures in the White House, notably National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who wanted someone else to be the fall-guy for the failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush himself is missing from the scene altogether.

These are the words and deeds of the leaders we’ve got, to our great misfortune.

And this is proof that once the Republican Party knew how to identify and elevate great men. But that time seems to have passed.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

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