A Hail Mary Legacy for Bush: Adoption of the Metric System

Now, we are told, NASA will use the metric system on its next lunar mission. Good for NASA! It’s been decades since we were told that the nation was committed to join the rest of the world in adopting metric standards; but inertia set in… just like it has in just about anything and everything else from energy diversification and conservation to education. Just one more thing we haven’t done since our last national victory in 1969: landing a man on the moon. One guesses such triumph was interpreted by Americans, those governing as well as those governed, as good enough to last a millennium or two.

But it wasn’t, not by a long shot. And our attitude that if the world can learn “to speak American,” they can also learn to measure things in inches, pints, ounces and the rest… will not serve us well, taking away the option to excel, or even be competitive; installing instead the option of military power as our equalizer.

Besides, the changeover to a world standard was seen not only taxing our minds but our resources as well. The cost factor was passed on as the great barrier, the ultimate excuse for a combination of laziness and stupidity without precedent. You want a poster boy? How about the collection of little-minds who have ran the US automotive industry from Detroit? And please don’t blame it on the unions or the current health care costs… the problem being kilometers deeper than that, starting in the 70’s.

So the marketplace can take care of all problems, eh? Believe that cliché and consider yourself thoroughly brainwashed. And we certainly have been. As long as greed is part of man’s makeup, society – usually in the form of government – needs to intervene.

The last time I took a count as to what nations comprised the “coalition-of-the-willing against adopting the metric system” we stood out tall and alone, holding Liberia with our right hand and Old Burma with our left. Stupid spectacle, you say? You bet!

So here is the perfect opportunity for George W. Bush to create a positive legacy for his presidency by letting Liberia and Myanmar fend for themselves. After six years worth of film-footage playing the new millennium Keystone Cops, putting an all-out effort during the next two years to accept liters, meters, kilograms, centigrade temperatures, and hectares, will truly be historic, taking us away from living in the past. And if treated with the same level of effort, the same passion and political fervor, as that given to the war on terror, it could really happen. At least adopting the metric system will be both economically and symbolically a good thing for Americans, in contrast to the present fear-mongering war on terror that has been only politically motivated… and a disaster on every front.

And who knows, maybe changing to the metric system will enlighten our government to change its foreign policy as well. After all, different standards of measurement consistent with world peace and conviviality are needed in that realm as well.

Bush Junior would be extremely foolish to miss this last opportunity for a positive legacy for his presidency. If he replaces the urge to surge, which translates into extending the conflict in Iraq so there is no D-I Day (Defeat in Iraq) during his watch, with something as mild as the unequivocal adoption of the metric system, there might be a last opportunity for him to avoid graduating at the tail end of the presidential class. Where Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Padre, and Clinton have failed… this president could personally carve a small niche of success. Up to now, Bush’s presidency has shown us that Justice is indeed blind: a lack of brains that is balanced by a lack of heart. But most Americans would rather believe that their president is neither uncompassionate, nor mentally-handicapped.

Somehow, changing to the metric system seems to have a higher meaning, a higher purpose. If we are able to go metric, perhaps we’ll also be able to join the rest of the world in peaceful coexistence; and cease to be an arrogant bully, and become a helpful big brother; or, at least, a respected neighbor.

For almost fifty years our standard for conducting wars has been dismally inaccurate, and our nation would be well served to bury that standard once and for all. Instead, let’s show common sense, and bring on the metric system – not Iran and Syria. And, this time, let’s not keep it optional.

But only the Decider can decide what kind of legacy he wants to bequeath America. It’s in his hands, or in his heart, since the Democratic Party is acting as if castrated unable to speak for the American people, in one strong voice, in a counter-mandate to war.