Friday, February 02, 2007


I guess it's possible that Cory is correct in his assessment that I have "moved toward the center" when it comes to the Iraq situation. (You can read some of my thoughts in a discussion at Aaron's blog HERE.) It's hard sometimes to admit when you are moving in the same direction as public opinion, especially when you have held it up as a virtue when our political leaders feel there are some decisions that should be made independent of public opinion.

For the record, I still hold it as a virtue. One of the greatest books I was forced to read in college was Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage." If you haven't read it, you should. It tells the story of major figures from the U.S. Senate who made tough decisions that were extremely unpopular at the time, and that eventually cost most of them their careers. History looks back on these people with admiration because they refused to do the popular thing.

The whole frustrating catch, though, is that we can never know whether or not something is unpopular because it is right (or in spite of the fact that it is right,) or if the sole reason it is unpopular is because it is wrong. History rarely, if ever, gives us the luxury of immediate vindication. We are all forced to cast our lots and endure the excruciating march of time.

I think this is probably why the public at large is moving either to the center or to the left. The great exodus to the winning side is a staple of our particular brand of democracy. A small amount are staying with the president, because if history vindicates them, it will be a SERIOUS vindication. If over time Iraq stabilizes into at least a somewhat functioning and peaceful state, ,history will speak of these patriots as the great foreseers.

But most of us (me included) find it hard to muster the fortitude to keep turning on the news day in and day out and seeing another dozen soldiers were killed. So we move to the center and don't hedge any bets, preferring instead to claim victories from both sides. But does any of this actually honor our soldiers, and do either side ensure that we are protected?

Usually when I write about these things I trail off into incoherent nonsense, without any hope for a resolution. Which is, I believe, quite appropriate in the story of the New World we are all living in. Everyone from every spectrum is waving their flags of victory and virtuosity, all living under the false impression that the answers are easy. But they aren't, and it doesn't do anyone any good to say they are.

So here I am, trailing off...


jenA said...

I so loved that post on Aaron's blog. I totally commented.

Craig said...

To further cement my fickleness: Jen, your response has moved me back to the right. Seriously.

So did anyone watch Scrubs last night? It was beautiful. The whole point was that the American Soldier is like the neglected child with parents who are always in a vitriolic bicker-match about how to best honor their children. It underscored the fact that neither side is really "honoring" the troops as they say they are. They are just using our military as a prop in the decades old culture war.

Incidentally, here is what inspired this post: I read a chapter about a peace march in Lamott's Plan B. Now, I LOVE Ann Lamott, but I couldn't help but have a strange suspicion that her and her San Fran. left coast friends are actually a little happy about the disaster of the war, because it gives them an opportunity to return to the 60's. Break out the Dylan (which, incidentally I believe John Mellencamp is taking up the mantle for this war,) grab a sign, get naked and join the party. The glory days are back, and we demand peace!

It's like the '94 Republican Revolution in reverse.

jenA said...

the jump to Scrubs, post-reading Aaron's digs at your cultural persuasions, was perfect.
as to the naked thing - um, I have weird tan lines now, so NO.

ruth said...

i teach history these days which means i'm somewhat of a fan. i think it's the history buff in me that keeps me from declaring my undying allegiance to one side of the argument or the other. i know that none of us will ever know what's really going on until it's all over. once again, thanks for being better with words than i am.
and i love ann lamott but i'm with jen on the idea of nakedness :)