IN early 1965 most Americans couldn't find Vietnam on a map.
Okay, let me rephrase that.
I was looking in the Indianapolis Racist Beacon this AM for some news--I don't know why; the light's not even better there--oh, yeah, I was looking to see how local "news" might be covering the latest in the continuing saga of Marion County prosecutor, former Dan Burton underling, and repellant tanning-booth rodent Carl "Face Time" Brizzi, whose political and personal mentor, one Tim "Think Marcus 'Fake My Own Death In My Private Plane' Schrenker, But Without The Class" Durham, is the subject of Federal investigations into at least two of his companies, Ohio-based Charles Ponzi & Associates and the Indianapolis-based Scams "R" Us chain. The story's reached the point, as Chris Worden explains, where financial skullduggery complicates it to the extent that it becomes all fact-y an' boring an' stuff, and I'm curious to see if the locals will stick with it, or do the easy thing and just leave Brizzi standing there with stink lines radiating in all directions. He is a particularly valuable asset to local teevee, since if they find themselves with ten minutes to fill they can just move a camera and microphone anywhere within 1000 feet of him and he'll pop up and do fifteen.
So I was scanning the page, and near the bottom there's one of those online polls which the sort of people who conduct online polls are always quick to label "Unscientific", on the grounds that "Pure Bullshit" is still not acceptable in mixed company. And today's little window into the blasted landscape of the Midwestern thought process gave us "Do you support President Obama's Afghanistan strategy?" With 60.1 % answering in the negative.
Which reminded me that when the Johnson administration first started sending large numbers of troops into that generation's worthless* meat grinder most people were only vaguely aware that US military personnel had been in combat** there for four years.† Of that 60-dot-one percent above, how many d'you suppose were screaming for blood eight years ago?
Then there's David Brooks, who was, by temperament, more inclined to wait a month until we'd won the war before he started gloating.
Many Democrats are nostalgic for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign — for the passion, the clarity, the bliss-to-be-alive fervor. They argue that these things are missing in a cautious and emotionless White House.
I'll be goddamned if I know any, at least any who've put it that way. Maybe they meet at Appleby's.
But, of course, the Obama campaign, like all presidential campaigns, was built on a series of fictions. The first fiction was that government is a contest between truth and error. In reality, government is usually a contest between competing, unequal truths.
I swear to God, somewhere there's a community college program missing a pedant. Th' fuck is that even supposed to mean? It sounds like something Herbert Hoover said after he got hold of some bad oysters. At any rate, we remind you that Brooks was enraptured by the fresh breeze of Candidate Obama's soaring rhetoric, at least for precisely that period when it looked like one more push would topple the Clinton ziggurat.
The election revolved around passionate rallies. The Obama White House revolves around a culture of debate. He leads long, analytic discussions, which bring competing arguments to the fore. He sometimes seems to preside over the arguments like a judge settling a lawsuit.
Sure, we all miss the days when the President behaved like a hung-over frat boy who couldn't wait to get out of class and back to the House to resume tossin' 'em back, and whose pre-ordained conclusions were merely reinforced by the pre-cooked intelligence he was provided, but look: those days are gone. He was one in a million, and we shall not see his likes again, or not long enough to tell the tale, anyway. Let it go. It's like a scab. You gotta quit picking at it.
This style has never been more evident than in his decision to expand the war in Afghanistan. America traditionally fights its wars in a spirit of moral fervor. Most war presidents cast themselves as heroes on a white charger, believing that no one heeds an uncertain trumpet.
I think I see the problem. You're confusing "how America fights her wars" with "how American sells her denture adhesives".
A couple things: it's interesting to note how much your modern Republican makes of WWII, considering how strongly your contemporary Republican objected to Lend-Lease and everything else Roosevelt did. And it's interesting how The Good War has become the model for The Historical Bullshit. The near-unanimous purpose of the American public in the wake of Pearl Harbor is practically unique (Afghanistan springs immediately to mind, for some reason, as another); the overwhelming support for the duration of the conflict is exceptional. This country was founded on a revolution supported by one-third of its citizens. It was reforged in the crucible of a civil war which gave the language "draft riot", "rich man's war and a poor man's fight", and "skedaddle". The large-scale opposition to US entanglement in WWI--which followed the re-election of the man whose campaign slogan was "He Kept Us Out of War"--you can look this sort of thing up--continued even after U-boat warfare and the Zimmerman telegram; the widespread repugnance which followed in its wake has had to be masked by turning its day of remembrance over to celebrations of those who serve designed to drown out any question of what they serve. Our three major wars since 1946 have all been unpopular enough to be the major campaign issues of their time, and to force opposing--and successful--candidates to promise a way out. How does someone born in 1961 come to miss that?
And hey, if you want moral fervor there's plenty: the war against the continent's indigenous peoples, say, or the splendid little Spanish-American charade. White Man's Burden's always packed 'em in. Funny thing, though: war's glorifiers seem to want to gloss over those examples.
Despite the ambivalence, he did act. This is not mishmash. With his two surges, Obama will more than double the number of American troops in Afghanistan. As Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard pointed out, he is the first Democratic president in 40 years to deploy a significant number of troops into a war zone.
Thus giving a "conservative" the opportunity to use "words" to form "ideas" containing "facts" which say absolutely nothing while sounding pointed. Which is what they're in business for.
If the generals continue to find that stationing troops in the villages of Helmand Province leads to the revival of Afghan society, they will have the troops to do more of that. If they continue to find that order can be maintained only if social development accompanies military action, they will have more troops for that. We have no way of knowing now how those troops will end up being used. And we have no clue if it will be wise to withdraw them in July 2011.
Okay, we're turning this car around! Maybe we should have withdrawn them ten years previous, just after you declared victory, Colonel. Just last March you returned from Afghanistan convinced we were finally on the right track, with the right people in charge, and having finally learned to fight an insurgency; you limned the advantages gained from putting more "boots"--I love how you military types talk--on the ground. Now the President gives his commander the additional troops he asked for, and you sound like Jon Stewart's impression of Joe Lieberman as Droopy Dog: "Oh, I suppose it might help some, but you just never know…" Fuck you. And tell Andrew Ferguson that Obama's the first Democratic president in 220 years to inherit two lost-cause wars and the economy they helped bankrupt from the incompetent criminal who oversaw them all while you two cheered him on. Y'know, next time you see him at the Legion hall.
* Worthless, aside from the oil, that is. As always.