Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Americans suffer from hypochondria and historical amnesia that skew their perspectives and make them think things are worse than they are, George Will said Tuesday during a luncheon fund-raiser for the Baptist Health Foundation.

The national political columnist and commentator urged the more than 300 people in attendance at The Club to take a more grounded view as they enter the presidential election frenzy and both Democrats and Republicans try to portray the economy and other national issues as crises.

For example, the rising price of gasoline has everybody stunned although the price was surging only four years ago, Will said.

"People are driving around in their Lincoln Navigators, barely making it from one gas station to another, drinking designer water that's more expensive than gasoline, talking on their cell phones about how arduous life is in America," Will said to great laughter from the crowd...

Will's speech also took a serious turn when he talked about the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq. While he wasn't against a "pre-emptive war," he said the United States needed better information than it had to pull off such a feat. He also said he thought the concept of creating a beacon of democracy in the Middle East was overly optimistic.

"Maybe, just maybe, we underestimated the miracle of democracy," Will said.

It took more than 500 years to progress from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence, he said. After the Civil War, it took 110 years to progress through Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement. So how do we think we can turn over power in Iraq by June 30, Will asked.

"Who thinks the Middle East is easier than Mississippi?" Will said rhetorically.

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