Tag: Patton

Quote of the Day: A Good Plan

 

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

When I was 17, I was in a fight for my life. If I had lost I could well have died.

The fight took place in the spring of my senior year of high school, in 1973. Sometime earlier I wrote about its aftermath here on Ricochet and promised to tell the rest of the story later. Like now.

ACF Memorial Day: Patton

 

So we’re celebrating Memorial Day and I wrote an essay on Patton, the greatest American war movie. It’s a good day to watch the movie again, and to remember the great man. In my essay, I talk about the importance of great men in times of crisis, the limits of institutions and the specific character of the modern executive, and the way this ties to American character.

If I may also recommend VDH on Patton, perhaps as good a starter for conversation as the movie itself:

George

 

George was 77, going on 78 when we met. He owned a firm that rather suddenly had become my client due to an emergency failure in their IT network – an emergency that lasted 20 years. A protégé of George’s at the firm would end-up becoming one of my best friends – a relationship that will last forever.

George was remarkable: full-bird Colonel on General Patton’s staff, DoD project manager for the implementation of the world’s first mainframe computer, editor of a military journal for decades, college teacher, business owner, founder of the Pachyderms – a group of folks with thick skins, a sense of humor, and a keen interest in politics and bourbon.

But the thing I remember most about George was his gentle, humble laugh. We sat for many conversations over the years in his glass office on Kirby Drive – always quiet, private, and interesting. Until just a couple years ago, George came to the office everyday … wearing a tie and a smile, with a pipe in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He was a classic gentleman, old school. Every time we talked I learned something about life, the military, history, WWII, women, politics, the original mainframes, bourbon, or pipe tobacco. We never once talked business – his or mine. He had other things on his mind and I was interested in hearing about them. Making George laugh was a special treat for me – I’ll always remember that gentle sound.

Reflections on Self-esteem in Education

 

patton_1Probably the best way to begin a discussion about self-esteem is to issue a trigger warning for our snowflake community. That is, it seems only fair to warn our campus’s gravitas-challenged evanescences that the following words might propel a hasty scrambling toward the fainting couch. Likely few have subjected their delicate eardrums to the gravelly tones of George C. Scott’s rendition of General Patton’s famous presentation, given many times, and simply referred to as “the speech.” Here is a sampling: “We don’t want yellow cowards in the army. They should be killed off like flies. If not, they will go back home after the war, [expletive] cowards, and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the [expletive] cowards and we’ll have a nation of brave men.” Which is not perhaps the gentlest manner to talk about genetic inheritance, but still effective in its own way.

Patton’s spiritual offspring currently are defending our country, snowflakes and all, in a world replete with evil and aggressive people who wish to destroy us, and it is always an honor to meet America’s guardians in person. Closer to home we find the inspiring life and recent act of Pittsburgh Steelers’ fearsome linebacker, James Harrison, who refused to permit his sons to receive “two trophies for nothing.” He just couldn’t stomach his young men getting “2015 Best of the Batch Next Level Athletics Student-Athlete Awards” — a title so vacuous it makes even a snowflake sound heavy. Then there’s that superb Kia commercial, now gone viral, about another father who can’t believe his victorious son received a “participation trophy” after his team won every game. He peels off the namby-pamby plate, writes in bold letters “Champs,” and hands it back to his son, proclaiming, “Here you go, champ!”

Here you go, indeed. Both events are Pattonesque and, like the general himself, recognize achievement and refuse to take seriously hurt feelings or damaged self-esteem attendant to the many tribulations and defeats one encounters throughout life. In fact, so much of America today reeks with such nauseating attention to self-esteem, it’s enough to make General Patton, if he were still around, want to slap your face. Actually, many thousands of faces, including those of students, administrators, and college presidents throughout the land. But we might ask, why all of them — why not just the sneering faces of our prolific protesters — why include their ostensible leaders, as well? The answer is that they’re all engaged in the same activity, which is to enhance their self-esteem, to project their claims of moral superiority over others and thereby make themselves feel better about themselves. What better way to do this than by assuming the aura of noble victims seeking justice from overseers who are ever so ready to put their virtuous souls on bold display by internalizing grievances and granting rowdy petitioners everything they want?