In my continuing series on things that confuse me, I decided to begin with an article in today's New York Times, "Partisan Divide on Iraq Exceeds Split on Vietnam." Basically, three-quarters of Republicans think we did the right thing in invading Iraq, the same percentage of Democrats think we were wrong, and independents have been sliced in half — which must have been very painful. (It would have been nicer to just have them move to one side of the room or the other...but you know pollsters.)
This is a bad thing — not the slicing of independents -- say many wise people and members of both parties. "They worry about the long-term consequences of such bitter partisan polarization and its effect on the longstanding tradition — although one often honored in the breach — that foreign policy is built on bipartisan trust and consensus."
Let's face it, when someone as conservative as former Senator John Danforth (R-MO) weighs in on the side of reason, somebody ought to pay attention. “The old idea that politics stops at the water’s edge is no longer with us, and I think we’ve lost something as a result,” said John C. Danforth, also former ambassador to the United Nations under President Bush. Even Senator Richard J. Durbin, (D-IL) said, “There used to be some unwritten rules when it came to foreign policy.”
Oddly, this violent divide does not apply across the spectrum of foreign policy issues, so there must be something special about Iraq. Oh, the Times has experts on both sides trying to explain it, but it's a lot of politico-babble. They don't get it either.Why am I confused...or more confused than normally? (And I admit an anti-administration bias on this one.) First, Republicans confuse me because:
- The administration lied to us about the necessity and timing of the war. You can love Bush and still say, "Hey, George, come on, admit the WMD thing was a ploy to start and end of the war prior to the elections. It's okay. We'll still respect you in the morning.
- The administration didn't even listen to its own military and foreign policy experts on winning the peace, which is why things continue to deteriorate four years later. And they're still not listening. Does someone need a hearing aid?
- Look, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld aren't stupid people. They saw the reports on how tough it was going to be to win the peace. What happened, enquiring minds want to know? What made them so dense?
- They still talk about one Iraq as if it wasn't a made-up country sharply divided along sectarian lines.
- And why won't Republicans say, "You know what, I love the Republican party and I love Dubya, but oy vey, vat a mess they made in Iraq?" Would it kill them? Call me naive, but I'd have a lot more respect for them if they just admitted a Republican can make a mistake. Hell, lots of Democrats have made mistakes. In fact, there's a Wall of Shame at the Democratic National Committee. It's an honor to be included.
- Last I heard, Republicans and especially conservatives wanted government out of our lives...smaller government...more accountability. Why aren't they worried about the massive internal spying of American citizens going on? You think you're immune? And you call me naive.
Imagine this — you send an e-mail or post somewhere something that contains the secret words "Pluck Your Magic Twanger, Froggie" for those of you old enough to understand. Whammo, your name goes into a file which is accessible to Lord knows who. Then one day you apply for a job or a loan, somebody does a security check, and your name pops up. They don't know why, but you get turned down, and you'll never know why. As they escort you out the door, you're screaming, "But I'm a card-carrying Republican conservative. You can't do this to me." Sorry, Charlie. You've been Bush-whacked.
- Audit Finds U.S. Hid Cost of Iraq Projects. Don't Republicans want corruption out of government? Well, the Times did it again on the front page. I'm confused. Why aren't you pissed that the administration is still lying and deceiving you?
- This has nothing to do with whether we should or shouldn't be in Iraq, or whether Bush is a good or bad man/president. It has to do with what I thought were your core values.
But it doesn't end there, my friends. Democrats are just as confusing.
- Don't we (Democrats) realize that Osama "I gonna kick your butt" bin Laden was praying for the U.S. to invade Iraq because he didn't think we'd have the balls to stick it out? We can't leave now. We (meaning the U.S.) certainly could do a better job, but even though everyone hates us, I'd rather be hated than seen as a toothless tiger. It's a bad world out there.
- What are we, a bunch of whatever animal it is that eats its young? Or in this case, old. Joe Lieberman is now the canary in the mines for the Dems. Are we going to be as stupid as the Republicans and have purity tests so only the most liberal can win office? Whoa. Smart thinking — let's alienate anyone who might be a centrist.
- Why have we forgotten that the Democrats are the party that can't agree on anything — with a tent so big even Ronald Reagan was once a member? In diversity lies stength. In uniformity lies death — not to mention boredom. Out of the debates and disagreements comes, eventually, a common ground that more people can relate to. So why are we trying to kill that and become Tom "Don't You Hire A Democrat" Delay?
- There are terrifying similarities between Vietnam and Iraq, but they are mostly military blunders and stupidity. There is no similarity in terms of intent or purpose.
- When it comes to foreign policy, you try to keep the fight inside the house; to the rest of the word, you present a united front. (Of course it would help if Bush would consult with Congress once in a while...but that's a whole other issue.) If we Dems are responsible for "losing Iraq," not only is the party toast, but them weirdo Islamic radicals are going to be dancing in the streets for years. "America: Talk Big And Carry A Little Schtick."
So I'm confused. Can't we just all get along...no, bad quote. Can't we agree that we've got common cause in this Messopotamia and work together to figure out a path towards success? Why are we all being so bone-headedly stupid?