Wednesday, September 05, 2007

At Waters' Edge

I'm about sick of the politicking that's going on. At one point in our nation's history we had good solid politics here in the states, criticizing all kinds of domestic policies, but going with a unified voice on the world front. Now, with the 24 hour news cycle, the blogosphere, and everyone else looking for a good angle for a story, it seems that the best way to do that is to be as critical as possible. I include myself (and pretty much every other blogger) in this...people don't care as much about the good news. Instead, be as negative (or rather, be as controversial, as "newsworthy") as possible, that's how you make your name, and America consents to it. One person who plays the game pretty well is sportscaster-cum-windbag Keith Olbermann. He was clever when he was the anchor of SportsCenter, but now he's just another talking head who refuses to see anything right with the Right. I'll grudgingly concede some things to the left, for starters, they're a good deal more compassionate than conservatives, but I think that conceding anything for some of these people is about the equivalent of chewing broken glass. Take, for example, his comments that I happened to run into while I was at the gym yesterday. Either I'm incredibly naive or President Bush is this generation's Hitler because he's planning to move the US into an all-war, all the time setting. Not only that, but he's "[dismissing] of the value of the polls and the importance of the media, [those all important windbags who try to drive the national agenda and won't allow anything to take more than 24 hours lest it get dull and boring and, heaven forbid, un-newsworthy.]" It could be too much 1984 or just plain delusional thinking, but Bush is planning on leaving office in 2008 and he's not pulling a Hugo Chavez and rampaging over his term limits. If he was doing that, I'd give the angry Left credit and go out and demonstrate against him too. However, he's fighting a war that we all agreed to give him the power to fight. The country was for it, Congress was for it, everyone was for it...until people saw it as an opportunity for another Vietnam. That meant that political gain could be had and perhaps it could be used to shape the nation for another 25 years, much like Vietnam paved the way for nearly a quarter century of Republican Presidents. All the supporters fell by the wayside and now Bush is almost alone in supporting it. Some may see it as stubborn and bull-headed, but not having the attention span of a gnat is hardly either of those. Bush is indeed stubborn and bull-headed, but in this area he's in the right. We're closing in on 3000 deaths, a number not to be trifled with, but one that is hardly unprecedented in the history of warfare. We should be grateful that 3 years into the fighting we're only at 3000 (with average casualties since October 2005 being just about 2 per day). 3 years into the Civil War we were north of 100,000. 3 years into World War II we were over 300,000. 3 years into Vietnam and we were close to 20,000. I shudder at the thought of what might have been said in any of those wars if the technology we have now was at our disposal then. Washington wouldn't have survived Valley Forge without being pulled from duty because of the conditions he and his soldiers lived through. It's not farfetched to say that we'd still be having afternoon tea because the conditions his soldiers were living in and the casualties they took, not to mention the utter disaster of what would have happened when the news agencies got wind of losing New York City to the British. What would have happened if the talking heads all put the warfare at Antietam or Gettysburg out there for the people to hear how badly they were bungled? What about our defeats at Coral Sea or the incredible losses and stalemate at Guadalcanal? The problem we have is that unless you win with lightning speed, everything bogs down no matter how successful it is with the new angle of "we're losing" because something has to sell advertisements and get eyeballs. In the past there was some leeway because you couldn't get up-to-the-minute information on what's going on halfway across the world, giving the government plenty of time to keep public support rather than having everyone find out at the same time and start beating the "get our troops out of x, y, or z" drum. Ultimately, nobody can win a war in these conditions, and we're about to find out what the new news cycle means to our nation as we stand almost zero chance of winning Iraq without a little cooperation and maybe even a little support from the media.

Update: here's a video of Olbermann's tirade courtesy of YouTube.

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