I was reading my friend Allison’s blog about Republicans and it got me to thinking. Mind you, I was at work, so I was already in a foul mood.
What is it about this election (and politics in general) that make people into angry, raving lunatics? Allison isn’t, by the way.
The American people endured endless trials during the Clinton presidency over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. But, what did all that money and time get us? An admission that Clinton lied and cheated on his wife. The impeachment didn’t go through. Alot of folks just decided they didn’t care. Not because they approved of Clinton’s behavior, but because the trial was intensly long and boring.
During the trial, Clinton had Iraq bombed repeatedly because they kept shooting SCUDs at our jets and sent troops to Somolia (and/or Kosovo) to bomb people for compassionate reasons. And possibly to get some media attention off of him.
Oh yeah, there were some minor terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the USS Cole.
At the end of the day, nothing much came of it.
So, by 2000 our long, national nightmare of nothing much happening was nearly over and we got to choose between two other guys vying for the big office. Not the big house, that’s different.
We had Al Gore the former VP, whose wife, Tipper, started the PMRC in the 80’s. The PMRC was a group that wanted to censor music to protect our children. I assumed he shared her views. Not a fan of that sort of thing, I knew I couldn’t vote for the guy.
The challenger was George “W” Bush. I didn’t care for his father, so I assumed he’d be more of the same. I decided I’d vote for the Libertarian candidate, because at least he shared some of my views.
But “W” suprised me. He didn’t sound like a right-wing crackpot. He was a moderate conservative that wanted to transform social security into a 401(k)-like program. It hasn’t happened yet, but I still think it’s the only way to save SocSec. And best of all, when he was asked what he’d do with the government’s budget surplus, he suggested giving it back to us. That was music to my Libertarian ears.
The election was very close. So Gore, who didn’t get enough electorial votes, but won the popular vote, demanded a recount. And that was reasonable, because it was close. Bush was still the victor, so Gore attempted to tweak the results by disallowing absentee ballots and doing a hand recount of the four most liberal districts of Florida. That still didn’t work out, so he wanted yet another recount, but with different criteria. Eventually the US Supreme Court had to step in to stop the endless recounts.
People started saying Bush stole the election or that Gore was a sore loser. I learned more about the two men during this time than I did during the months before the election. And I was glad the cheater didn’t win.
A few short months later, when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center, I felt the nation breathe a collective sigh of relief that the man in the White House wasn’t a whining cheater, but a strong leader. A man who could find a way to make sure we answered our enemies. A man who wouldn’t stop until the murderers were brought to justice.
Bush has been that man. He sent troops to break up the Taliban and hunt Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. That effort continues today.
Reveling in our misfortune, Saddam Hussein, decided it was a good moment to seek political advantage. Expecting to be protected by his allies (France, etc.) in the UN, he through out the UN inspectors. This was a violation of the sanctions that had been in place since the Iraq-Kuwait war. Bush asked the UN to enforce those sanctions, but they refused. Congress then authorized the US to use military action in Iraq.
Bush tried to get the UN to enforce the sanctions. He finally got intelligence from the CIA, FBI, Britain, Russia, France, and others indicating that Iraq was still pursuing a chemical and biological weapons program. Still the UN refused to act.
Given no other choice, with the events of 9/11 still fresh in his mind, he formed an alliance with the countries that were willing to help and went after Saddam. The goal was regime change. Not to mention that getting rid of all those WMD’s would make the world a safer place.
The war was the cleanest ever fought. Embedded media made sure our soldiers weren’t monsterous killing machines. The world saw them as the USA hoped they would be. Honorable men and women doing a frightening, but necessary job. The war itself was won faster than anyone expected. It was over in a heartbeat. Saddam’s army didn’t believe in him. They didn’t want to die defending a dictator that tortured and used chemical weapons on his people.
Occupation and reconstruction, the humanitarian aspects of the war, turned out to be much harder. Foreign terrorists entered Iraq, knowing this was their last chance to prevent their defeat. They know, as we do, a strong democratic Iraq is the keystone in the effort to stablize the Middle East. The end of the brutal dictatorships in the region is the only way for America to win the war against organized terrorism.
Libya saw the tide turning and decided to disarm. If the Iraq effort continues, other countries will follow suit. That’s how we win. Perhaps the only way.
It seems so obvious to me, but I have friends that can’t see it. They think Bush lied to us because we didn’t find the weapons everyone expected. I wonder if they remember that a lie is an intentional deception. Not finding WMD’s was as much a suprise to the democrats as it was to the republicans.
The Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys, Michael Moores, Howard Sterns, and Al Frankens of our country keep stirring the pot to confuse the basic issues. If you haven’t been paying close attention all along, it’s too much work to catch up. You make a decision how to vote based on retoric thrown around by idiots.
In the meantime, you and your friends and neighbors will call each other stupid, because you and they are all hopelessly confused.
Maybe once the election is over, we can see each other as humans again. I would prefer us to be humans that aren’t willing victims of terror, but even if the wrong guy wins, at least it will be nice to see people with opposing visions being friendly to each other again.