The spending bill passed by Congress is just a small taste of how stressed the country is going to be in the future. Obama and Clinton voted against it, aware that the well-organized online-savvy Democratic voters are expecting a hard line against Bush. Also benefiting from rampant online support is Ron Paul, a libertarian on the right. He’s accusing the Republican party of ignoring him because if his anti-war libertarian stance, which is refreshing even to Democrats. Early party debates have exposed caution on how to proceed on the part of the Democratic candidates, and rabid anti-secular rhetoric from the Republicans (even Romney).
The Democrats claim that their dropping a timeline from the spending bill is the beginning of ratcheting up pressure on Bush.
To be honest I am surprised at how quickly things have changed. I remember talking with my buddy MonkeyPope about how long it would take for a significant resistance to form against Bush. I was skeptical that 2008 would be the year. The midterm elections accelerated everything. Having a counter-balance to the Bush administration has brought back some sense of separation of power to the government. It wasn’t long ago that people thought the Democratic party was hopeless and had no good candidates. But now the party is looking quite healthy and organized, and is killing the Republicans online. The Republicans are the ones in disarray and are realizing that they need to get back to their conservative roots and away from the neocon agenda. Conservatism is still widely appealing but has been co-opted by the more liberal neoconservative mindset lately.
Bush however is still the main obstacle blocking any constructive progress for the country. Until he’s replaced in 2009, the country will be on auto-pilot unless he gives up his stubbornness. That’s where a lot of the frustration is coming from. Bush is blocking anything that changes the status quo. He wants his legacy to be that of a president who remained firm on Iraq. He wants to remain loyal to his people, so it was with much consternation but under insurmountable international pressure that he accepted Wolfowitz’s need to resign. Gonzales, the standard-bearer for American justice, is hanging tough with Bush’s backing. Bush wants to be a good ol’ strong, loyal Texan, and yet he cannot escape his past as an east coast well-to-do who didn’t earn his way to the top. I’m sure at some level that bothers his family, and maybe even him.
But the rhetoric in this country is fixed for now. There’s a lot of anti-war support now, and a general dissatisfaction with the state of the union, but it’s not focused on anything in particular and is just dragging everyone down. The country is not inspired and it’s not looking forward to the future. Look at China and Australia for examples of countries with something to smile about right now. The economy is flattening, international relations are deflated, consumerism is trying to fill the empty void.
I feel bad for the rest of the country that isn’t as immersed in politics right now. Servicemembers have for years now lamented about how the good stuff they’re doing is not being publicized. The Soldiers and Marines want to make sure that their commitment to accomplishing a mission is fully recognized. They want everyone to know that they’re working hard. No one questions this. The problem is that they are tasked with a losing mission which they more often than not do not recognize. Their spouses at home feel bad to criticize the progress of the “war” or lament that their husbands have now missed their children’s birthdays the last three years. Spouses feel as though they need to support their deployed husbands by supporting Bush. Criticizing the “war” means telling your spouse that their commitment is worthless.
Thus there is a huge moral dilemma within the military about staying true to the chain of command and to the mission, and acknowledging strategic blunders that are way over their heads. It is the soldier mentality versus the citizen mentality. The Administration exacerbates their quandary by marginalizing the dissenting generals, the leaders of the troops. Soldiers and Marines are being told by field colonels to remain loyal to the mission (as that is what a field commander should do) while generals are being silenced from leading their men towards moral victory. Soldiers and Marines are being shamed by the Administration into continuing to defend the foreign policy, while privately in Military Times polls questioning what is going on.
Yesterday, the Republican House leader, John Boehner, cried in front of everyone. “After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on? When are we going to defeat ’em?”
This breakdown shows the despair in the loyalist camp. They are torn between staying true to their party and to the notion that America does not “lose” wars, and the frustration that we’re not doing better in Iraq. The Administration has brought this upon the public, confusing them with impossible goals and ever-extending goalposts. There is no solution in sight and it is deeply hurting proud Americans everywhere.
Some pro-Bush people finally admitted that Iraq was ill-advised but they’ve learned the wrong lessons from it. They mention little about Afghanistan and even less about Pakistan. There is no discussion of the worried Saudis and Sunnis dealing with an emerging Shi’ite bloc and how each side is adjusting to the shattering of the balance of power. Somehow the focus is solely on the state of terrorism in Iraq. The pro-war people reinterpreted the Iraqis as not wanting freedom and peace, since we offered it to them and they ungratefully declined. The Muslims are not ready for order yet, they might say. They still need to undergo the reforms that the Christians went through centuries ago. They are not ready to be modern contributors to the world order. It is their fault. We gave it a noble try, but it’s their fault.
Obviously there’s still a long way to go before pro-war types “get it”. I was trying to figure out where the mindset comes from, so I checked out the main right-wing blogs and sites like Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air and Little Green Footballs. These sites are probably the only reading that many right-wingers do, since they pejoratively refer to actual journalistic outfits as MSM, or Main Stream Media, which is code for “in the pocket of the liberally-biased media”. I’ve periodically checked the right-wing sites and there are absolutely no articles on a lot of topics. Many of the articles are focused on the evil Democratic candidates or on examples of Muslims being stupid terrorist fundamentalists somewhere in the world. I didn’t see ANY article on the Wolfowitz scandal, or ANYTHING on the Gonzales/Goodling hearings. I understand now why, when my mom and I talked to my dad about how the Justice Dept. was flooded with graduates of a religiously-based college and how that might compromise Justice’s integrity, my dad was blissfully unaware of it. If all you saw was propaganda telling you that Muslims are marauding across the world and that Democrats were pushing socialist agendas into your neighborhood, you’d probably act the same too.
At some point, Boehner and those he stands for need to recognize that Bush does NOT have a plan and that things cannot continue to stay the same. His useless sobbing and hand-wringing need to be replaced with taking action.
I don’t need a fucking House Representative crying on the floor about how we need to stand up and take on the terrorists. It’s just fucking embarrassing. I mean, the US incursion into Afghanistan and Iraq has lasted over 4 years now. Thousands of soldiers and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. This does not include the refugees, the critically injured, the maimed, the oppressed. This does not include the frigidity of international relations. This does not include the effect of Bush policy on world governments. Our tough foreign diplomacy and disregard for individual privacy, freedom of speech, habeas corpus, and so on, has resonated in the governments of other countries. Amnesty International claims that the US has caused an international increase in civil rights abuses and torture. Ahmadinejad and Chavez are direct nationalist/populist responses to Bush. Sarkozy in France, Putin in Russia, Howard in Australia, and Harper in Canada. It is no wonder why these hardliners who are anti-immigration and tough on diplomacy are getting voted in. The whole world is constricting. Terrorism is the theme worldwide, and is being used to excuse any sort of behavior.
Boehner meanwhile cries on the floor like a desperate sally. As if he’s only now realizing how bad it is in Iraq. Soldier deaths and violence in Iraq have never been worse. Sectarian violence shifted away from Baghdad and Ramadi to Diyala and Basra. But now Baghdad is bad again, as Iraqis adjust to the “surge” (is it really a surge after all this time, or is it properly an escalation?) and grow comfortable with its presence. As evidence, Muqtada Al-Sadr felt it was safe enough to return to Najaf, from Iran.
The stupid pro-war pundits blow their wad when they see a flood of American soldiers temporarily bring violence down in one region. They ignore the fact that all those militiamen and terrorists and insurgents actually went to some other region to cause trouble. Meanwhile their handlers continue life unafraid of being caught…
I don’t need your tears, Boehner. The soldiers don’t need your tears. What people need is your leadership and bravery. What America needs is for this all to stop. The Bush legacy is going to hurt this country psychologically for many decades to come. The sooner we start to heal, the better.