The blogosphere is heating up over Keith Olberman’s commentary last night about the proposed "surge" of troops planned for the new year and on the president’s repeated calls for "sacrifice." The Daily Kos call it an "11 minute piece of brilliance." I watched it this morning on the MSNBC website and thought it was on par with previous commentaries. This was clearly meant as a direct attack against the president. Overall I find most television news shows to be more about entertainment than about actual news. While I agree with the substance of Olberman’s commentary it is too little, too late.
First, I should say that I never supported the war in Iraq. As someone who lost a relative on 9-11 I supported the president’s decision to go into Afghanistan 100%, and I thought he did a very good job in the days and weeks following that horrific day as a rallying point for a grieving nation. I was hoping that we would find and either capture or kill Osama bin Laden. From day one I though that the talk of Iraq was a distraction from what was clearly a legitimate target. I never believed that we would find WMD or that we could somehow bring democracy to Iraq. And as most conservatives will tell you that shouldn’t be the goal of this nation’s foreign policy to begin with. [See Francis Fukuyama's America at the Crossroads] What is so disturbing about the recent round of books on the lead up to the war and the occupation is that our intelligence community in fact did do their jobs. There were plenty of doubts expressed by intelligence services re: WMD and what would happen in case of an extended occupation. They were ignored. I’ve been reading and highly recommend Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s Hubris and Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City.
From day one the job in Iraq was botched, but the American people, including our elected officials didn’t question any of it. [We couldn't even execute Saddam Hussein properly.] Worse than that we demonized those people as anti-American who did question the administration. Even Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq was labeled a political opportunist and a disloyal American. Large protests were seen as peripheral by most mainstream news agencies. This is the sickening part of the entire story as far as I am concerned. Even with this country’s recent history we allowed the situation to get out of control. The president has asked the American people to sacrifice for this so-called "War on Terror" from the beginning and yet I look around and struggle for the evidence of national sacrifice on the home front. I suspect that the reason we never engaged in serious dialog about this war is because sacrifice was never really necessary. Most of us have no direct connection to the men and women who are risking their lives or who have lost their lives in this senseless war.
As bad as things are they will get worse unless the American people stand up and demand that it stop. It was appropriate for Olberman to refer to Lincoln’s words in the Gettysburg Address. My only disagreement is that if these soldiers do die in vain it will not simply be on the hands of the president. I fear that they already have died in vain. Olberman’s commentary was flashy and emotional, but what does it matter if that is both the beginning and end of the opposition to all of this nonsense. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that Olberman’s anger should not have been directed at the president; it should be directed at the American people. We allowed this to happen. Our public officials in Washington are only accountable if we demand it.
In the end I have to conclude that we got what we deserve.