Monday, January 22, 2007

The View From Today

One of the curious side effects of being away from this blog (and the whole blogosphere) for 18 months is the urge to go back and delete some rather embarassing older entries that do not accurately reflect where my head is at today.

When I started up this blog, it was about five weeks before the 2004 election, and the divisiveness of that campaign felt like the climax of the divisiveness that has afflicted our nation since the 2000 election. (And before that, I'm sure.)

In the aftermath, I found myself becoming gradually apolitical, something that I've noticed happening after previous presidential elections, too. After spending months talking about nothing but politics, it seems that some time away from that is necessary. One thing I find completely irresponsible about the heated political rhetoric that issues from both sides of the aisle is that after whipping up their constituencies into believing that their opponents aren't merely wrong for the job, but evil or criminal or a minion of Satan himself, on the day after election day they move on (either to Washington or back home to Podunk) and act as if all that rhetoric was just part of the show, and now it's Act 2.

Meanwhile, the constituents who they've whipped into a frenzy are still frothing at the mouth about the opposition party and aren't able to set it aside so quickly.

In other words, in order to get themselves elected, they get us to hate the other guy, and then they wonder why we all hate each other afterwards and why political discourse is at an all-time low. They cannot see that the consequences of poisonous election-year rhetoric is a poisoning of our entire system of governance.

Having jumped into blogging and having positioned myself on the right side of the blogosphere through the positions I took and the viewpoints I advocated, it was a bit difficult to disconnect from politics. The blogs I read (and quoted) regularly were still in "heated rhetoric" mode, and I wanted to get over it and move on.

At the same time, the power of this thing that I'd tapped into -- the "blogosphere" as they called it back then -- was starting to frighten me. You can see the beginnings of this discomfort here.

My blogging dropped off after that for a variety of factors, but my desire to withdraw from political debate, combined with the discomfort I was feeling about political blogging in general was certainly part of the reason.

Jump ahead 18 months and what's changed?

Politically, I find my support of George W. Bush, whom I voted for twice and supported on these pages, to be flagging. I haven't quite been able to nail down the reasons for this feeling, but I think Doug at Bogus Gold has neatly articulated what I've been feeling in his post here, and then again later here. I'll quote from the second post:

We conservatives have to be brave enough to acknowledge reality, even when it's uncomfortable. I'm willing to admit it: I thought George Bush was more capable than he has turned out to be. I don't think the idea of invasion was wrong. I think he is personally not up to the challenge of executing it.

This doesn't mean I suddenly support the Democrats either. They want to pull us out, damned be the consequences. I find that notion somewhere between insanely naive and damnably politically expedient. I think a leader and communicator like Rudy Giuliani would be succeeding where President Bush is failing; to whit: Keeping the American people supportive of the war effort.

Face it fellow conservatives, we saw President Bush's resolve to stay on course, even in the face of crumbling public opinion, as a sign of his integrity and principled belief in the importance of victory. I see no reason to question that even now. But we failed to appreciate that there were other qualities just as important to victory that he lacks. He lacks the ability to gain and hold the trust of the American people. Blame the people rather than him if you like. Blame the media if you like. But it's time to acknowledge that this is the situation we now face. We're fighting a counter-insurgency war in which our commander in chief is incapable of accomplishing the most important strategic objective: holding the support of the American people.

That's pretty sobering, but I think it's spot-on. Like Doug, I'm no longer sure whose side I'm on, if any. I supported the invasion of Iraq for what I felt was a good reason -- deposing Saddam Hussein. I thought the insurgency would dwindle eventually as the people of Iraq tasted more freedom. They would now stand up for themselves and create a thriving democracy that would make all the despots of the region pale.

Except it didn't happen. And we're still over there and it's still a mess. Earlier this month I read this, and got very depressed.

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

I spent months -- years -- telling people that this war was not about oil, and then I read that perhaps it was. Thanks, guys. Now I feel like a real fool.

I'm not ready to jump ship to the Democrats yet. I haven't voted for a Democrat in the Presidental Election since 1984 (when, God help me, I voted for Walter Mondale, an action I blame completely on my youth), but for the first time in a long time I will seriously consider what Democratic candidates have to bring to the table. How could we do any worse?


At 6:59 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

While it was not "all about oil," the petro-factor HAD to play a part in some of the decisionmaking.

There IS a US interest in maintaining supplies of petroleum, and it's a damned important one.

I don't think that anyone could argue to the contrary.


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