After 9/11/01 I stopped being a self-styled expert on politics. Before that date I wrote letters to the editor about all things political, criticizing the government about every little thing that irritated me, and feeling that doing so was my patriotic duty. When those towers went down I was immediately made aware that no matter how smart I thought I was, there was stuff going on at the political level that I knew nothing about and wouldn't have been able to fix even if I tried.
I live in a very "red" state. I am surrounded by people who not only vote exclusively Republican, but also don't want to hear any ideas that do not support the official stance of the party. The Lexuses in this neighborhood (Fairhope and environs) almost all bear simple black square stickers that state only "W." I didn't hear much objection to our entry into Iraq, or the substitution of Saddam Hussein for Usama bin Laden, or the re-election of the same pitiful, misguided, ill-prepared man to carry our country deeper into the mire he'd created, at his side the most hypocritical, formidable, angry, incompetent right hand man ever to occupy the office of vice president, apparently putting all the worst advice he could think of into the ear of a man who so desperately needed good advice.
I'm old enough to remember Vietnam pretty vividly. We wanted to support our country but the idea used to be -- thanks to World War II -- that that was because our country was the good guys. After Vietnam some of us felt that being good wasn't good enough to make us the policemen of the world.
The outpouring of support for the Iraq war was a carryover for our guilt about Vietnam; another exercise to prove yet again that since we're so nice, the world will thank us for our intervention. What the Middle East needed was to be more like us. That, of course, was the last thing the Middle East wanted.
The Vietnam war was so despised by Americans that by the time it came to an end, returning troops were spat on in our streets. The Iraq war, in order to erase the memory of that, produced for every critical remark about the war itself an accompanying word of pride in our men and women carrying it out. Catch-22 for yet another military conflict.
Today the blogs are spinning with opinion about the Iraq Commission report on the dire and deteriorating conditions in that country. Such a firm, informed statement will have to be dealt with by this President and Vice President. Whether either of them is up to the job remains to be seen; they have shown little aptitude for clear thinking or creative solutions to anything so far in this abysmal Presidency.
I fell for John Kerry when he first appeared on the Dick Cavett Show after returning from Vietnam and reported the disgraces he had witnessed. I was euphoric after his first debate with George W. Bush; he was so clearly the man who could get us out of this debacle, perhaps even before it was too late, perhaps at the expense of his own popularity. But he was a victim of a viscious campaign (one thing the Bush people are extremely good at) and is now disliked in his own party, because parties exist by winning and the Democrats see him only as a loser. I hope his voice will be heard again and that he will avoid trying to tell jokes -- ever -- and may be useful in the amelioration of a situation that can only be seen as a blot on the history of our country.