January 13, 2007

Turning point? (updated)

This latest speech from Bush has caused some turning points that I didn't quite expect. I didn't expect it to change me at all, for example, yet it has made me even more concerned about this President's competence. But I am not the only one. Several Repubs are also skeptical.

Faithful Progressive points us to this Leonard Pitts column that I think says it as well as any.
Most of all, though, I know this: I do not trust my leaders. And politics is not the only, or even the primary, reason. No, at the end of the day, this is a question of character.

From the beginning, the architects of this war have shown a frightening nonchalance toward truth, a troubling willingness to treat fact as optional. Where reality has collided with political expedience, political expedience has invariably won. Where it has been inconvenient, it has been ignored.

Some of us have distrusted this president for sometime. But Glenn Greenwald points us to an even angrier post by conservative Christian Rod Dreher. (Actually, it is a oral essay at NPR, but Glenn has part of the transcript at his blog.) Dreher grew up with the Carter failed rescue effort in Iran and learned to see Republicans as winners and Democrats as defeatists. His first thought when 9-11 occurred was that he was glad a Republican was President. But that has changed.
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.
Now Dreher wants his kids to learn to question authority.

I have been sick about this President for years. Readers might recall my tearful and obsenity-laced rant after Bush won reelection in 2004. I have doubted his sincerity and competence from that first year, and have waited for others to join me--though even I had no idea the depth of his incompetence. At each turn, I thought people might see what I saw. Iraq, "mission accomplished," torture, wmd, etc. Then after reelection, I really thought that Katrina would get people, because I thought they wanted a basic competence. But they were more than willing to blame Nagin and Blanco for all the problems and give Bush a pass.

I think they started to see the light when Bush waited until losing the midterm election to fire Rummy. And this "plan" to fight in Iraq, coupled with the fact that Bush's mantra of "listening to his generals" was clearly a lie. And then he fired those generals who didn't tell him what he wanted to hear. And then he gave this speech. Usually, the President enjoys a bump after such a speech, but his approval ratings appear to be dropping. And more importantly, as Dreher shows, hardcore conservatives are leaving the fold.

Update:Barbara O'Brien (found this at Glenn's blog) has some thoughts on Dreher's story of political awakening. She notes how people like Dreher grew up during the rise of the Republican noise machine where liberals were all bad and conservatives were all good. She laments that this childish way of viewing the world seems to have become the Republican view.

But when recounting her own political awakening, she writes this:
"But then our hearts were broken in Dallas, and less than two years later Lyndon Johnson announced he would send troops to Vietnam. And then the young men of my generation were drafted into the meat grinder. Sooner or later, most of us figured out our idealism had been misplaced. I was one of the later ones; the realization dawned for me during the Nixon Administration, which began while I was a senior in high school. Oh, I still believed in liberty and democracy; I felt betrayed because I realized our government didn’t. "
That is exactly how I have felt the last several years.

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