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The Truth, Mainly - 01/01/2007

Some New Year Thoughts

Today, I would remind those readers whose heads may still be buzzing from last night, is the beginning of a brand new year. And as a columnist I'm required to remind you of some things said in 2006, some trivial, some dripping with great import.

One of the great debates in 2006 was about whether we should end the war in Iraq or continue it.

Sen. John Kerry, who lost the 2004 presidential election to the sitting president, last week wrote a piece for the Washington Post in which he quoted from a speech Winston Churchill made in Fulton, Mo.:

"Never give in, never, never, never,—in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in."

Then Churchill, the greatest of WWII orators, added this: "Except to convictions of honour and good sense."

Which led Sen. Kerry to his last line: "This is a time for such convictions."

That—from a Democrat—came two weeks after a speech by Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican from Oregon who had previously favored the war in Iraq. But, he told his Senate buddies, U.S. military "tactics have failed" and he "cannot support that anymore." He said he's at "the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs, day after day….That is absurd. It may even be criminal."

And Sen. Smith went on: "I, for one, am tired of paying the price of ten or more of our troops dying a day. So let's cut and run or cut and walk, but let us fight the war on terror more intelligently than we have because we have fought this war in a very lamentable way."

You've probably already read what our Republican senator, Chuck Hagel, wrote in a November 26th piece for the Washington Post:

"We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned, and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government."

And a week or two later. Sen. Hagel was quoted by Frank Rich in the NY Times saying this: "The impending disaster in Iraq is unwinding at a rate that we can't quite calibrate."

So are you starting to feel a little sorry for the President?

I know, it's a difficult feeling to explain to anybody, especially after you've read that according to The Lancet, a British medical journal, more than 600,000 Iraqis have died since our 2003 invasion. If accurate, that number means that more than three times as many are dying now as were dying before the invasion.

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And it's numbers like those that are getting a lot of Americans to change their minds about the President. The Post-ABC News poll reports that seven in ten Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing in Iraq.

On the other hand, there's some very touching news from the Bush family, not necessarily for the President, but for the country as a whole. Eleanor Clift wrote about it in the Dec. 8 Newsweek. It's about former President Papa Bush—George H.W.—and how his plan for his sons went awry. The plan, according to Clift, was that Jeb Bush—the second son—would run for president first, with George W. standing in line waiting his turn to succeed his brother.

And Papa Bush broke into tears talking about how things didn't work out for Jeb. Or was it because George W. cut in the presidential line in front of his brother?

It's difficult to think about it without your eyes watering a bit, isn't it?

But enough of that. I want to conclude this tear-jerker by reminding you of a bit of good news about a group that takes its religion so seriously that they're willing to be excommunicated over it. Many of them are members of a Catholic reform group called "Call to Action." And many of those "Call to Action" folks are right here in Lincoln.

If you meet any of them, shake their hands and ask them how they stand on Iraq. My guess is that they'll make a lot more sense than the President does.


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is: leonsatterfield@earthlink.net.


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