Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Why A Conservative Turned His Back On The President And The War In Iraq
It is a difficult time to be a conservative. It’s almost embarrassing. In the last two years, I have slowly turned my back on President George W. Bush and have accepted that he is an incompetent and, well, shockingly bad Commander in Chief.
I have been a conservative my whole adult life. I was raised in a suburban middle class, religious home. I am admittedly a product of my environment. There are certain hot button moral issues that I lean towards the right on. I’m sure you can figure out what they are. However, I do lean a little left on a handful of social issues. Education, health care and gun control for example. I wish there was a way for gun control to work without taking guns away from law abiding citizens and keeping criminals armed, but that’s another kettle of beans. I don’t think prayer has any place in public schools. That’s why we have, you know, churches. You institute prayer in public schools and the Jewish kid in the third row that doesn’t participate gets a beatdown at recess. That’s not right. So, I suppose if you want to be more accurate, I’m a moderate that is sitting just to the right of the political Mendoza Line.
Where I see fault in the modern two party system is that you are expected to fall in line with whatever the Elephant Team Captain or the Donkey Team Captain tells you that you should believe. If you are a Democrat, you believe the following… A Republican you say? Okay, you believe this… And when you disagree, you are labeled disloyal. Bollocks. The world isn’t that simple. I don’t believe that kind of blind loyalty is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. It’s that kind of thinking that has led to the hate the right has for the left and the disdain the left has for the right. The Blue States and the Red States have become a modern day Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. That idiotic feud began in 1865 and wasn’t officially ended until 2004. How long did it take before both sides didn’t even know what they were fighting about and hated each other because that’s what they were told to do? Sadly, that is what America has become.
While I may be simplifying the situation a tad, the most contributing factor to the current state of affairs is the war in Iraq. The war has re-divided an already divided country. I’m not a political commentator. I’m not a political expert. I’m a normal guy who reads the news and cares about his country. On September 12th I was just as upset and scared as anyone. I found myself crying watching the news reports from lower Manhattan. I took it personally. I knew we had to do something. Of course we had to do something. But what we ended up doing was a colossal error.
I, along with many, many Democrats by the way, supported the initial invasion of Iraq. And also like many others, I thought it be a matter of weeks before we removed Saddam Hussein from power and the United States and our allies would be a little safer. Unfortunately, bad intelligence and a John Wayne attitude put us in over our head. We pulled troops from Pakistan to focus on Iraq. There have been reports that Al-Qaeda has gained strength in Pakistan and there is no end in sight in Iraq. The war in Iraq is a disaster. It is approaching Vietnam levels of failure. What have we accomplished? What would be considered a “win?” Winning is impossible. There is no such thing as win.
I am well aware that the following attitude is too cynical. I may well be wrong. But I don’t understand why I should care about the Middle East anymore. Hundreds of years of unrest and infighting. Hundreds of years of religious turmoil. What makes us think that is going to change? That part of the world doesn’t want our help. They have no desire to adopt democracy or free speech or free religion or free anything. Hate is taught in schools, that is if you get to go to school. Hate is taught in homes. Last year, a children’s television program killed a Mickey Mouse look-a-like who was representing an Israeli official trying to take Palestinian land. The show was teaching Palestinian children to hate and kill Israelis. This would be the equivalent of Grover and Cookie Monster teaching kids to hate Blacks and Jews on PBS. While you’re trying to digest that thought, let me pose another question. Why should I care if the Middle East fights among themselves? Why should I care if the Middle East destroys itself? Why should I care?
One of the main reasons I gave up on this war is because I would have felt like a hypocrite if I didn’t. When President Clinton was grab-assing in the Oval Office and lying under oath about it, I was disgusted by much of the blind support that he received. The justifications that were given were crazy to me. I actually listened to “experts” insist that Clinton’s affair was not a big deal because of how many men cheat on their wives. If I continued to back the President now, I would have felt worse than those idiots making excuses for Slick Willie’s dalliances into infidelity. I have listened to blowhards like Bill O’Reilly continue to blindly defend the war. It’s insulting. It’s ridiculous.
This war is a mistake. It’s a quagmire of ineptitude that I don’t see how we can fix. I wish I knew what the answer is. I recognize this diatribe is a little like the third grade logic of Michael Moore. Pointing out the problems without offering any real solutions. But I am being sincere. I gave up on Dubya long ago. He will go down in history, and justifiably so, as one of the worst Presidents this country has ever elected. Without doubt he will. History will be right in doing so. Not that we would have been better off with John Kerry. (I mean come on Dems, you didn’t have a better candidate than a tall-tale-telling hairdo from Massachusetts with no record of leadership in his own party? Really? You are quite possibly going to make the same mistake with Hillary Clinton.) But perhaps we wouldn’t have to read about the thousands of brave men and woman that have died in Iraq. I barely even read the stories anymore. They make me too depressed and angry.
There is a difference between still supporting the American troops and disagreeing with the war. It’s not unpatriotic. It’s not. In fact I believe it is patriotism in its purest form to care so much about the country that you question the dangerous road that the nation is on. Bush has lost America. He’s lost the media. He’s lost his constituents. With approval ratings at an embarrassing low, he is destined to be remembered as the idiot that he is caricatured as in sketch comedy shows. His approvals ratings are in the twenties. That would mean the administration has lost about HALF of the diehard Republican supporters. That is a staggering reality. I have given up on this White House. I tried, I really did, but the actions and blunders and arrogance of the administration have been indefensible.
A few years ago, I was in Washington D.C. for a friends wedding. On Fathers Day, my buddy Dayne and I went to The Mall to walk around some of the monuments. We walked by the Vietnam Memorial. There were hundreds gathered. Putting notes and pictures and flowers below the names on that wall. Some leaving photos of grandchildren that were never met by loving grandfathers. It was horrible. Folks from all over the country coming to pay their respect to loved ones who were lost in a war that did nothing except give us a blueprint of what we shouldn’t do in the future. We didn’t learn that much unfortunately. And one day there will be another memorial on The Mall for the Iraq war. And thousands of family members will come on Fathers Day and Mothers Day and Tuesday to pay their respects to their loved ones. They’ll pay respects to the brave young men and woman who lost their lives in a country that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11. They lost their lives in Iraq. And for what?
I have read numerous times that Jack Kennedy had plans set in motion to pull troops out of Vietnam by the end of 1965. After he was killed in Dallas in 1963, those plans were rescinded by LBJ and Vietnam lasted another decade. Imagine how different history could have gone had we jumped off the sinking ship that was the Vietnam War.
We need to pull out of Iraq. And soon. The problem is that one of Dubya’s strengths is also his biggest fault. His stubbornness and hardheaded personality have brought the country to this point. Unfortunately, our great nation is reverting back to the paranoid feelings about government we harbored during the early 70’s. After Vietnam and Watergate, our country justifiably mistrusted government officials.
It’s sad how history continues to repeat itself, isn’t it?