Saturday, January 27, 2007

My theory du jour

Just working this out on other sites, thought I'd put it up here. Based on this:

Public fatigue over the war in the Iraq is not reflected solely in the president's numbers, however. Congress is criticized by nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of Americans for not being assertive enough in challenging the Bush administration's conduct of the war. Even a third (31 percent) of rank-and-file Republicans say the previous Congress, controlled by their party, didn't do enough to challenge the administration on the war.
And this:

Almost 40 years since President Richard Nixon first said it, there is a new "great, silent majority" of Americans. This time, however, the silent types aren't supporting the president, and they aren't in favor of the war.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 65 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops to Iraq, 59 percent would support an attempt by Congress to block a troop surge and 52 percent are ready to leave before the situation stabilizes. Almost two-thirds now say the invasion was a mistake, the highest that number has been since the war began.

So where are the riots? The marches? The sit-ins? The arrests?
I thin it is 1972 all over again, but for the politicians, not for the people.

There are still two lingering myths about Vietnam. One is that support for the troops failed, which somehow ruined our fighting resolve, which destroyed troop morale, which led us to catastrophic failure. Cheney likes to nutshell that now as "not having the stomach for [a fight]," more than slightly ironic considering the number of deferrals he got from the Vietnam draft. This is the myth in "Rambo II: First Blood" which keeps replaying on cable lately. Rambo tells somebody, in Stallone-speak: "We just want our country to love us as much as we love it!" It's a made up notion of why we lost, along with the non-existent soldiers who were spat on.

The other myth is that demonstrations and protests ended the war. They didn't. As I said at Pastor Dan's place:

The riots were mostly about race, not war. The demonstrations were about youth power, and mostly carried out by privileged college students who didn't like the idea of being drafted, or being told what to do, period. It had less to do with the war, actually, than with adolescent angst.

I'm not being disparaging, just honest.

Vietnam didn't end because of Kent State, nor because Neil Young wrote a kick-ass song about "Tin soldiers and Nixon comin'." Remember, McGovern lost so badly in '72 the Dems and the GOP are still feeling it (so while 70 Senators today privately condemn the current war, how many will vote for a non-binding resolution?)

Vietnam ended because people were spent, and frustrated, and fed up. Not because of Abbie Hoffman. The politicians are so far behind the people they can't even see the parade anymore. Another two years, and they will catch up. By being replaced.

The energy now is with Webb and Pelosi and Murtha and even Kennedy. But don't expect Biden and Schumer and even Obama and Clinton to figure that out. They are, all of them, already behind the crest of history's wave. The news just hasn't gotten to them yet.
So how is today like '72? Because the politicians still hear the roaring in their ears of the Nixon landslide. McGovern was crushed because he wanted to end the war. He was considered "weak", and that was disaster. Nixon had a "secret plan" to end the war, so ending the war wasn't the issue; how it ended was what mattered. "Peace with honor," "peace with dignity," that was the ideal. What we got, of course, were helicopters lifting off from Saigon 3 years later, after Nixon had resigned in disgrace for the real reason he won in a landslide. Which is what led to the myths about soldiers we spat on and didn't love enough.

And now? As I said, I think the energy is with the outsiders, those who haven't had the power; at least haven't been the media darlings and "party leaders." Obama and Clinton are included in the latter, and even Reid. The "new kids," like Webb and Pelosi, and those with a conscience like Hagel, are on the cutting edge. Or, if you prefer, are on the crest of the wave.


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