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February 29, 2008

Are there levelheaded people who think the U.S. should stay the course in Iraq?

CNN.com today ran an article headlined (at least at one point), "Ohio critical for McCain to win war-weary voters". Here's an excerpt:

A onetime war supporter is now a war critic. Yet in Tuesday's Ohio primary, and again in November, [John] Dyer [father of the late Lance Cpl. Christopher Dyer]  is supporting the candidate who insists things are finally improving in Iraq, and who insists the troops must stay to finish the job.

"Seems like we have shown a lot of progress and I don't think it is time to quit and run," Dyer said. "And I think if we hadn't shown some progress, it would be time to call it a day. .... I hope people who think we should just cut and run or get out as quickly as possible will at least listen to Sen. [John] McCain articulate the reasons why he wants to do the things he wants to do."

Now, in some ways, this is a thoughtful and measured stance. Mr. Dyer thinks that there have been many mistakes in the execution of the Iraq War, yet he sees progress there today. The progress encourages him, and he feels that the U.S. should continue the current approach to the War. Fine. I disagree with the assessment of progress and the subsequent cost-benefit analysis, but Mr. Dyer's welcome to his opinion.

However, I can't help but notice that Mr. Dyer never really gives the alternative (as proposed by Senators Clinton and Obama, for example) a serious consideration. He calls the alternatives both "quit and run" and "cut and run"--neither a particularly neutral term. This is hardly surprising: after all, Senator McCain has been using "cut and run" to describe the views of those who disagree with him since at least 2004. He's not alone, of course. President Bush loves the term, as did the President's buddies, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

No less a fan of the Iraq War than William Safire, linguist extraordinaire, does not beat around the bush when discussing the connotations of "cut and run":

The phrase ... is always pejorative. Nobody, not even those who urge leaders to ''bring our troops home,'' will say, ''I think we ought to cut and run.'' It is a phrase imputing cowardice, going beyond an honorable surrender, synonymous with bug out (probably coined in World War II but popularized in the Korean conflict); both are said in derogation of a policy to be opposed with the utmost repugnance.

Of course, "cut and run" is not the only emotionally charged phrase used by people who believe that the U.S. should continue war operations in Iraq. Only a few weeks ago did Senator McCain claim that Senator Clinton wants to "surrender" to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Now, if I were fresh off a spaceship with nothing to inform me but the face-value description of two options: surrender or stay the course, I, as a rational being, would really have no choice whatsoever but to vote against surrender. And naturally, that's exactly what politicians that support the Iraq War want.

All of which brings me to my question. Are there people out there who are capable of explaining and evaluating the Iraq foreign policy suggestions of both major parties in neutral terms and then come to the conclusion that the U.S. should continue its present course in Iraq? Are there well-reasoned people who are brave enough to present both options without using pejorative phrases and rely on wisdom and good judgment to conclude that we should stay the course?

No, seriously, I'd really like to know.

February 13, 2008

Appropriate Bedfellows

The republicans, acting as a squadron of defense attorneys for Rogers Clemens, and Clemens himself, with no explanations about any of his contradictory testimony or about Andy Pettitte's testimony. I must say I was a tad disappointed that none of the congresspeople asked Clemens if he was on steroids when he hurled a broken bat at Mike Piazza.

February 6, 2008

I Would Proudly Vote for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton

I think that Senator Obama is an inspired speaker. He rallies the troops like few other politicians these days. And when he does eventually talk about policy, he tends to have sensible ideas that look out for the good of all American people, majorities and minorities alike. I think that Senator Clinton is brilliant. She has a masterful command of foreign and domestic policy and a nuanced understanding of what it takes to get things done in the federal government.

I wish we could elect them both: maybe there's something to be said for having both a Prime Minister and a President?

As I wrote before, I think there's something to be said for recognizing the potential history of this year's November election, and that awareness makes me extra proud to cast my vote for either of these candidates.

But I could only vote for one of them in yesterday's Massachusetts primary. And while I'm a bit skeptical of the unbounded enthusiasm and optimism of Obama's supporters, I'm too young to cynically dismiss it and back the institutional candidate. Instead, I decided to cautiously cling to the hope that Senator Obama's campaign promises of uniting Americans from different walks of life, of restoring America's image around the world and Washington D.C.'s image around the country, and of inspiring a new generation of young Democratic voters for years to come. Yesterday, I proudly cast my vote for Senator Barack Obama.

Strange Bedfellows?

The three best catches in New York sports history? Any other suggestions?