Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Conservative Corner

It's been pointed out that, if this blog is supposed to be moderate, politically speaking, then I should be more willing to highlight conservative thought. Seems fair enough. Here's Andrew Sullivan's email of the day:

I certainly agree with Zalmay that stakes are high in Iraq – precisely because we’ve put all of our chips, so to speak, on this wild gamble in the Middle East. But Bush has nobody to blame for dwindling public support but himself. This is a President that refuses to acknowledge that there is such a thing as “the American people” and that he is accountable to them. And he shows no signs of this changing. Every significant speech is made to cherry-picked crowds at military academies. Scott McClellan’s briefings have become unintentional comedy sketches. And his surrogates just buzz and strafe Sunday morning talk shows every so often to parrot the same useless talking points. Imagine how much public opinion could be shaped and how much criticism could be defused if he simply addresses the American people to tell us what 'the course' that we must supposedly 'stay' is. What IS the mission? How many Iraqi battalions being independent and battle-ready will it take before we can at least begin to draw down? When can we expect this to occur? What is he doing to draw the Sunnis more into the political process and away from the insurgents? What is he doing with neighboring nations like Iran to stop their meddling and to seek their help in securing the borders? There are countless other questions – the answers of which could be used to explain in detail our progress, our plan, and a clear direction for America in the Middle East.

But when he is silent and hiding away from his critics, it’s only reasonable for people to begin to assume that he has no progress to report, no plan, and no direction. It would be sad if the hard work of people like Gen. Casey and Zalmay is all for naught because their boss was too much of a fool to explain the rather significant benefits of what they're now doing in Iraq.

And here's Sullivan's response, which I agree with 100%:

There are times when I wonder if the president is capable of such an address. And the reason I say that is that any candid, credible discussion of where we are now would require an acknowledgment of a series of previous misjudgments and errors. I don't think Bush is psychologically capable of this. It requires nuance, self-criticism, an abandonment of Manichean rhetoric, and a political decision to unite the country rather than dividing it. All these things he has so far refused to so. Alas, I see no evidence that he has changed, or is even capable of change. And so we stagger on.

I couldn't agree more. Were the President able to lay out credible reasons for the course of action he's chosen, I'd be much more inclined to consider his arguments with a degree of respect. Do I think that we were led into war for reasons that constantly shifted? Do I believe this was done because Bush, et al, reallllly wanted to get us into there, WMD's or not? Yes, I very much do.

And when the President won't pony up and lay out the truth for us about it, people like myself, who already distrust government without accountability, are going to ascribe motives to those actions that are less than honorable. Because if they are honorable, why wouldn't the President want to engage his critics in substantive debate or, at the very least, give his critics an answer that didn't sound so much like stubborn refusal to acknowledge the value of these questions?

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