I’ve been arguing with people a lot lately. Not sure what it is, maybe it’s the confidence that comes from electoral success, but the liberals in my life have been quick to verbal sparring. I don’t mind it, I enjoy the clash of ideas. It’s necessary in a democracy.
The problem I’ve found in these arguments is they always lead to the same topic: the war in Iraq. Obama significantly raising the debt? Well, “Bush, Iraq, Bush, Iraq” goes the liberal co-worker. Originalism versus empathy on the bench? “Bush, Iraq” goes the parrot, er, liberal. Occasionally you get lucky and the liberal thoughtfully explains how Bush started the spending spree. Normally just before going on a long rant about the war in Iraq.
And sure, I’ll defend the result in Iraq. A stable democracy, several elections, a constitution, autonomy, greater civil liberty and reduced genocide. I’ll take that case. Donald Rumsfeld’s plan for the occupation of Iraq was wrong, his thinking about the “light footprint” were wrong. His ideas about the military were revolutionary, maybe too much so. But after the initial mistakes in the occupation were righted by the surge, Iraq came together. Thirteen of eighteen provinces are under direct Iraqi control. All the other factors, like suicide bombings and coalition casualties are down. The country is close to full autonomy.
But when I make these points, they are ignored. “Bush Lied, Bush Murdered, Bush Tortured, Bush is retarded, Where are the WMDs? Do you like burning dark skinned people? We need to get out now.”
I can’t take it. I will say I think the case for going to war with Iraq was weaker than the case not to. I felt that at the time. Other issues related to Bush’s leadership are moot, Obama is now in office. How to finish in Iraq is more important. I do what I can to be forward thinking in these discussions but it is hard.
Eventually, I just say “you can’t put crap back into the donkey” and let that be my case for remaining in Iraq until the country is stable and fully autonomous.
Really, if I wanted to stay on topic I would never allow the “Bush, Iraq” misdirection and would stay on the subjects at hand: spending, taxation, deficit spending, the role of the judiciary, the sanctity of life, the role of government in a free market, etc.
The epiphany for me has been the fact the Iraq War has created such blind and irrational opposition to conservatives. Even though nation building and active foreign interventions aren’t conservative. The GOP will never be able to make headway until the ideas “Bush” and “Iraq” have left the cultural collective conscious. The GOP needs to foster an image that supersedes our association with the Iraq War and the memory of George W. Bush (rightly or wrongly) will have to fade before we can enjoy electoral success again.