The state of our nation isn’t just about polarization, a word that fails to adequately describe our social condition after six years of partisanship buzz words and robotic talking points conjoined with factually bereft rants from ponderous political hacks.
A deceptive, secretive, manipulative executive fostered a self-deluding populace that wanted to believe so badly it accepted rationalizations that defied common sense and logic. For those who get their news from such as Rush Limbaugh and other ranting wingers, false premises continue to reinforce support for what seems, to most un-indoctrinated observers, a failed presidency and a failed foreign policy.
The spectacle of John McCain’s weekend in Baghdad, in what some have called “his Dukakis moment”, was proof that reports of success in Iraq have been greatly exaggerated. McCain’s assertions that the media have failed to report the “good news” and that one can walk safely in some of Baghdad’s neighborhoods was belied by the large number of troops dogging his steps, air support roving the skies, laughter from reporters of long duration on the scene and, sadly, a heavy death toll during his visit.
Others anxious to support the president and his war willingly endorse the charade that has paralyzed our national consciousness. Representative Tim Walberg, R. from Michigan has said that parts of Baghdad are as safe as some streets in Detroit and other troubled cities in that state. If that is true, either the people of Detroit should be wearing flak jackets or Mr. Walberg should try strolling through Baghdad without one.
But administration deceptions have been so pernicious that discussing Iraq is always infused with indefensible and irrelevant positions – – e.g. The Daily Standard’s William Kristol’s denial before the war that divisions existed among Sunnis and Shiites and Vice President Cheney’s misrepresentations about WMD and the insurgency’s last throes. Thus were the American people lulled into acceptance of policies from a government and its apologists who lecture about a national security they are ill-prepared to provide.
And things don’t get any easier in the Middle East over time. Whatever, one thinks of Iran taking British sailors in the Gulf clearly U.S. and British warships on maneuvers there are something of a stick in Iran’s eye. It simply defies logic to imagine that our presence in the region could be ignored, and it probably doesn’t sit well that we hold Iranian nationals in Iraq either. Prime Minister Blair has refrained from using inflammatory language, but President Bush has referred to the sailors as hostages, another page in his lexicon of vexing rhetoric trending perhaps to a nightmarish end game.
Sustaining our presence in the region is a daunting task given our depleted and over-worked military. What could be more illustrative of the poor planning and incoherence of the current administration than their willingness to commit troops to war with neither the numbers nor equipment required – – the most damning evidence of its wanton disregard for the welfare of the troops it claims to support.
Disturbingly, Blackwater,a private company In Iraq to provide security for contractors and help train recruits, has morphed into a large, mercenary army interacting with coalition forces and sometimes directing operations, yet unaccountable to and outside the jurisdiction of our government and our military. While this administration seems to believe that privatization is the solution to almost everything, a contingent of mercenaries isn’t what most Americans envision as part of its volunteer fighting force. De-funding Blackwater and insisting that their operatives return to security details paid for by contractors would represent proper congressional oversight of our operations in Iraq and help to rein in the out-of-control spending engendered by the war.
But despite the terrible toll the war is exacting and the administration’s domestic inattention, the same old bromides keep finding their way into the campaign rhetoric of Republican presidential frontrunners whose strongest arguments seem only to promise more of the same. Giuliani, “America’s Mayor” in the eyes of many, will need an army of skycaps to handle all his baggage. McCain, on the other hand, is beginning to resemble someone’s dotty old uncle – – cranky and delusional. For his part Romney has achieved a substantial fund-raising surge – – a corporate background and a term in the Massachusetts State House having provided him with enough gravitas to make him a viable candidate in the minds of Republicans.
And then there’s Fred Thompson, former senator, fundraiser for Scooter Libby’s legal defense fund and, most importantly, an actor who plays the District Attorney on TV’s “Law and Order.” Described as a reliable conservative and ‘gosh doesn’t he look presidential’, Thompson is being encouraged to add his name to the roster of Republican hopefuls, especially by former colleague Lamar Alexander.
The rest of us may ponder with some trepidation the possibility that another second-tier actor could claim the White House. But what it all comes down to is that, while we are in some respects a polarized nation, too many voters are simply shallow, waiting passively to be deceived once again by leaders who act the part but support neither the troops nor the best interests of most Americans.

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