Whenever I hear the latest news about how the war in Iraq is being conducted, I like to replace the names of those involved with other names, to get a new perspective on the news. For example:
“WASHINGTON – After the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in Iraq, top Gore administration officials fear the situation will deteriorate in coming weeks as insurgents try to create turmoil amid the June 30 handover of power to Iraqis.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, White House officials said Monday they see reason to be hopeful that the situation will eventually improve. But they can’t say when the turning point will come.
From President Gore on down, the administration now acknowledges that the U.S.-led occupation bred more frustration among Iraqis than the White House had initially expected.
Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Would a President Gore be allowed to run a war and occupation as poorly as the Bush Administration has done, and get a free pass from the media? Probably not.
In fact whenever I read about the war, the economy, or any current event, I like to cross out “Bush”, “Cheney”, “Rumsfeld” et al and replace them with “Clinton,” “Gore,” “Cohen” or any other non-Republican name, just for fun. Would such news and events be permitted, nay, even defended by the chorus of pundits and writers who shout approval to the current administration? Hardly.
It makes you realize just how divided this country is right now – and how each side has developed an almost irrational devotion to loving “their guy” and hating “the other guy.”
Criticism is one thing, standing up for the candidate you believe is one thing, but nowadays it seems people are very rabid in “their guy.” Talk to a Bush supporter and they will be hard pressed to give you a reason the President could lose his or her vote.
I’ve often said that I think the President could announce on TV that he axe murdered orphans and buried them in the Rose Garden, and he’d still have FOX News, the GOP base, and an army of pundits who would still defend him to the bitter end. After all, he’s “their” guy, and they have to defend him, No Matter What.
Then again, the president has announced we’ve been doing some nasty things to POWs in Iraq, the deaths of more of our brave men and women in one month than during the entire war, and an economy that continues to putter, yet he still seems to do OK with most folks on his “side.” Who cares what those hippies in the blue states think anyway?
It’s not that much different than the blind defense many on the other side gave President Clinton during the whole Monica Lewinsky affair. Now, I voted for Clinton, twice, but even I thought he acted like a big idiot cheating on his wife the way he did and where he did it. I know too many guys like that in politics, and I’ve discovered that men with a “cheating heart” cheat in business and politics too, if they can get away with it.
While I wasn’t sure booting him out like some wanted to do was the right response, I didn’t think it was worth defending either. But as you may recall, times did not allow for shades of gray in one’s opinion. You either hated Clinton or loved him – regardless of the facts.
But that’s where we are now. Two sides who will not waver in support of “their” guy, no matter what. A precious few undecided voters who will play a significant role in determining who wins. And two candidates spending incredible amounts of money to kick, stab, beat, and punch the other guy and rile up their folks to get to the polls. We’ve already seen the opening salvos – and it isn’t going to get any more pleasant or intelligent as the months pass.
People often ask me what “issues” will decide this election and I tell them that this is the most issue-less campaign we’ve seen, ironically at a time when we really do need a rational discussion of what the next few years are going to be like.
We could use some intelligent conversation between an incumbent President who has been singularly responsible as commander-in-chief of a war that is not going very well, and an incumbent US Senator who has counter-punched the attacks, but still leaves us with little in the way of what he’d do any different or any better.
I don’t expect to hear much of such thoughtful discussion from two campaigns that seem bent on spending every dollar and using every surrogate to lie, cheat, and attack their way into power. While it would be easy to lay all the blame at Bush’s feet, he’s not the only one engaging in the shenanigans of spin and attack.
Remember all those anonymous attacks on Howard Dean as a tool of Osama Bin Laden? Remember how each Democratic debate was a “Piss on Dean” match? Not exactly a model of statesmanship on the Democratic side, to be sure.
You, however, can bypass the foolishness and make an informed decision for yourself. Rather than listen to some blowhard talking head, or some noisy TV ad to make your decisions, spend a few minutes trying to find out what the real issues are – and what’s more hot air being belched out of an advertising person’s word processor.
There are some excellent websites out there – in particular, I recommend Spinsanity.org which has a good record on deconstructing the latest comments by both sides and exposes the truths and distortions from each camp.
Too many good people are dying in Iraq and too many good people are looking for work right now to allow the decision as to who will be running the Executive Branch of the United States Government a ping pong match of attacks and counter attacks by clever advertising folks.
The campaigns may not be interested in something a bit more dignified – but you have the choice as to whether you will listen to it, or find out the facts for yourself and make a decision based on good information, instead of bad spin.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com
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