The World You Wake Up In

November 8th, 2006  |  Published in etc

I have no wisdom to offer anyone re: the elections, so I’m not even going to pull a phony-baloney “I’m still mulling what last night means” thing then never get back around to it. I’ve just got impressions, with no representations about their value to anyone:

I encountered the words “dhimmi,” “dhimmitude,” and “jihad-loving” within mere seconds of venturing out onto the post-election, right-wing Web. I sincerely hope that with the weakening of the party that used fear above all else to advance the most egregious parts of its agenda, their need to identify with politics that call on them to be fearful will lessen.

Oregon’s mood seems less sour than it did in 2004. It feels more like the state I moved to in 2001. You can read about the measure I checked up on most during the evening, and most hoped would lose, from someone who worked hard to beat it. It feels like an electoral line is being drawn around choice, even if the line is still up for some definition. Thank goodness. And, to continue our theme from the last bullet point, fear lost again on that one.

My interest in Rumsfeld’s final bureaucratic defeat lies primarily in the vestiges of a certain proprietary interest I feel in the health of the military. I’m not sure how many good people I served with are still in the Army, but I know that I felt all along that Donald Rumsfeld was a danger to them. Not because of any strategic failings, but because he was hurting the institution with his autocratic, politics-above-reality style. A dysfunctional military means more dead soldiers.

If there’s one good thing that came out of his disastrous tenure, it’ll be that he serves as this generation’s Pat Schroeder: A repudiation of the notion that Republicans are uniquely qualified advocates of our soldiers. I’m sure neither he nor Pat Schroeder would much appreciate the comparison, but there it is. She was my hole card in more than one beer-fueled barracks picnic table debate about who was best for soldiers.

Also, now that the election is over and my horse-race mentality has cleared a little, I kind of get why Andrew Sullivan feels the need to say the kind of crap about old Donald he does. “He has blood on his hands,” intones Sullivan, “American and Iraqi blood.” He has to.

For as much as Sullivan has done some learning in the last couple of years, blithering about on his blog to Damascus, I don’t think he’ll ever really learn that if war has a failing, it’s not generally the lack of competent management. That’s the worst part of the overall sense I have that this election involved some repudiation of the war in Iraq.

Our country’s periodic excursions into aggression are often likened to a “fever,” but that’s not quite right. It’s more like a recurring beat in our overall societal rhythm. Talking about “war fever” as if it’s a thing that comes up out of nowhere and goes away just as suddenly is as ridiculous as talking about a drummer surprising you with a fill. As much as I’m singling him out, Sullivan’s one of the more reasonable of our hawks, and even he didn’t really learn. I can’t bring myself to hope any of the people who share his “change of heart” have learned much, either, besides the old mis-lesson that throwing the bums out will make bloodletting more efficacious.

And as a mid-post p.s.: his education continues.

On a slightly lighter note, the fact that George Allen is even close enough to consider holding out for a recount in Virginia is proof to me that there’s something really wrong about that place. Win or lose, I pledge to shut up about Virginia after this year, though. You’ve all heard enough, I’m sure, and after listening to Allen stumble around his campaign like a midget Bush amped on PBR and whiskey, I’ve heard quite enough about the place, too.

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