I remember it well. I was returning from a ski trip with a friend and we stopped at a hotel in Tucumcari, New Mexico. We knew the war was coming, but I still remember watching the beginning with great trepidation.
I opposed that war very much. When I knew we were going in, I hoped for the best that we would actually have success. I pointed out to SOF (who was even more against the war) that we had a chance in Iraq to build something positive, given their history of institutions.
It wasn't long after when we found out--at least those of us paying attention--that the argument for the war had changed from WMD to exporting Democracy. We learned there were no WMD, and that Colin Powell's speech at the UN was based on falsehoods fed to him by the war hawks in the admin. (Powell's own biography revealed later that Cheney and others worked very hard to keep Powell in the dark. After all, the last thing Cheney wanted was a thoughtful soldier looking at the big picture.)
Bush and Cheney still insist that they were right. Interesting, btw, that Bush's speechwriter, David Frum--he of "axis of evil" fame--even admits now that the war was more about oil and American Exceptionalism than anything related to our national security. But even his mea culpa glosses over key information and perpetuates misinformation, as Greenwald notes here.
For me, I have to say that this war has changed me in ways that I never anticipated. Not only did we watch our government lie about this war at a brazen level, but we learned soon that that same government, led by a man who claimed, of course, to hold Jesus close to his heart and to speak to God on a daily basis--create one of the largest torture regimes since the Soviet Union.
Of course, for me, the biggest disillusionment has come from the church that raised me and taught me my morals. Not only did they cheer the war, but they also defended, ignored, or openly supported the torture regime. Since then, I have seen nothing from the vast bulk of them to suggest any more introspection than Bush and Cheney themselves. Those Republicans who defended this war never lost support from their base. Of course, as we see this week, the only thing that can really lose support from the uninformed base is to support gay marriage. That's right. You can defend torture all you want and the conservative base will vote for you. But defend gay rights?
Over that last ten years, I have discovered that I am far more informed than most of my conservative friends. Not all, of course, and certainly there are uninformed liberal voters as well. But I have been rather stunned by the lack of information in many of my conservative friends. Most of them didn't know about torture at any detailed level, and most of them have no idea what their party actually does. They only know what it supposedly stands for.
Conservatives could gain some ground back by really assessing their actions and votes over the last ten years. Some have. I know a small group who supported Bush in 2000 but turned away as they realized the party was rotten to the core. The others just ignore the past, or so it seems. I doubt very much they will reassess. As my former therapist said, "the best predictor of future behavior is the past. That being said, people can change, but only through hard work."