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Party of Petulance


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Party of Petulance

The unbearable unfairness of being.

by Noemie Emery

02/08/2007 2:00:00 PM

THERE IS THE PARTY OF WAR, which thinks the Iraq war is important and justified, and the party of peace, which thinks it is neither. And then again, there is the party of petulance, a bi-partisan caucus which seems to believe that the most important thing about the Iraqi invasion is the harm it can do their careers. Who knew in 2002 that the votes they cast then to cover their rears would expose them four years later in another direction? It's all so unfair.

People have been doing this bad stuff for ages--recklessly launching these wild adventures, without warning us how long and how hard they would be. Washington never told people in 1775 that he would lose lots of battles, that the peace treaty wouldn't be signed until eight years later, and that that first attempt at a federal provisional government would end in complete disarray. The people who showed up at Bull Run with their picnic baskets expected a good show and to see the Civil War wrap up quickly. Lincoln never told them the war would drag on for four and a half years, turn much of the country into a killing field, and cost over 600,000 American lives.

And, as Hillary Clinton so rightly informs us, presidents ought to leave their successors an utterly clean and neat desk. Unlike FDR, who left Harry Truman a Red Army entrenched in East Europe, minus a blueprint for getting it out of there. Or Truman, who left Ike a China gone Communist, a Russia and China in possession of nuclear weapons, and a quagmire--aha!--in Korea, with no exit strategy. And Ike, of course, was no better, handing Southeast Asia off to John Kennedy, without wrapping it up in a neat little bundle; and Kennedy was irresponsible enough to get himself murdered before he could finish it. What a collection of losers. Irresponsible, every last one of them. And, of course, completely unfair.

Of course, it is wholly unfair--and really unthinkable--that a candidate should ever have to face an election with a big, complex issue still on the table; or at least, unresolved. This doubtless is what some Republicans thought (if this describes "thinking") when they reportedly told the White House that they wanted Iraq gone as an issue by the time 2008 rolled around. (Gee. Why didn't someone think of this during the Cold War? Imagine the trouble we might have been saved.) And in the same vein, Democrats scream themselves blue when Republicans try to commit them to something more binding than non-binding tantrums. They know votes like that could come back and bite them. And what would be less fair than that?


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