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Both Sides of the Coin

Starting off the morning, I noticed that Glenn Greenwald links to an NPR audiocast wherein longtime conservative Rod Dreher expereinces a crisis in his political faith.

As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic. But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.

In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did. The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.

I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully. I did not expect Vietnam.

As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.

I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?

Powerful stuff, and I feel for the guy. It is not easy to admit that you were wrong and question yourself after so many years of believing you were right.

The Mahablog, picking up on the theme, muses:

The problem is, as it is with so many of his fellow travelers, that his understanding of politics remained childish. He seems to have retained a child’s simple faith that Democrats (and liberals) are “bad” and Republicans (and conservatives) are “good,” so one does not have to think real hard to know who’s right or wrong.

Something made me wonder about the implied one-sidedness of her analyisis. I am the same age as Dreher. However, my earliest political memories are not of the 1979 hostage crisis, but rather of Watergate and Vietnam. If a 13-year-old can be imprinted by the vision of Ronald Reagan triumphing over Iran and Jimmy Carter, how much more imprinting must it be for an 8-year-old to be told that the President was a crook and that Daddy was helping to organize a rally againt Vietnam?

It's easy to score points off the opposition by accusing them of being immature, but frankly, I don't think this particular line of argument is a particularly solid one. Being politically liberal does not grant you immunity from the influences of your childhood.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 13, 2007 10:19 AM.

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