Repeat After Me: “I Fucked Up.”
I should never have trusted the DLC
Last night in the comments section, surveying the smoldering wreckage that now is the life of Ben Domenech, a few of us indulged in a discussion of human nature, learning and the possibility of redemption. I woke up this morning inspired to confess the following:
I fucked up. I should never have trusted the DLC. Or Tom Friedman. Or Andrew Sullivan, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Or establishment Democratic "experts" like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton.
I am one among many Americans who initially supported the American aggression in Iraq, though back then I called it the "Iraq War." I recall viewing the surreal, antiseptic, arcade game coverage of the invasion’s inception, not with any glee or bloodlust, but with a tragically, idiotically misbegotten sense of hope for the future. As if.
Before I could possibly move past my error in supporting a war of aggression that has tragically destroyed and taken so many lives, unleashing a global chain of events that will continue to drench the trodden earth with blood for decades, I had to look back at why I was wrong and learn from it. I was not stupid, in the sense that I was unintelligent or badly informed. I knew Saddam had no connection to the September 11 terrorist attacks. And yet, if only for myself, I must identify why I was wrong, and I’m gonna lay it out. Why? Because on the flip, I’m taking the establishment Democratic "leaders" and media elites who lack the sense to admit they fucked up to the damn woodshed. Bend over, boys and girls: here it comes.
- I was ignorant of culture and history: I looked at post World War II Japan and thought it might be possible to promote democracy in Iraq. For a host of reasons, that model was stupid to apply, and I was not curious or informed enough to suss out why. A humiliating, idiotic error.
- I got caught up in national unity: I did not defame or slander those who dissented from the rush to invade, but I did tend to tune them out. Like many Americans, I enjoyed the sense of a nation coming together after we were attacked. Maybe losing a childhood friend in the World Trade Center had something to do with it, or driving daily past the smoldering wreck of the Pentagon. But I think it was really just my wilfull blindness, my wish for respite from the bitter political divisions that had long beset the country. Ultimately, I entered fantasy land because I chose to go there. I overvalued cheap unity, and made of truth a casualty.
- I read and believed the wrong people: Tom Friedman. Andrew Sullivan. Peter Bienart. Hell, anyone at The New Republic. And here’s the kicker: I trusted Democratic "leaders." Shit, I knew Bush was an idiot, but I underestimated the extent to which the people around him were craven, delusional war profiteers. Other people could see it, but I didn’t. I was not skeptical enough. Not of Bushco., the media or establishment Democrats.
I can’t put my finger on when I knew the whole thing was a major fuckup. I don’t think there was any one moment, but it didn’t take me long. It’s fashionable for people who once thought as I did to say the Bush administration was too incompetent to "win the peace," but that’s a cop out. Proponents of the "incompetence" argument point to Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi Army. Oh yeah? If you think the country would have been easier to bring together with a Sunni led, intact military command structure in place, across the Kurdish and Shiite regions, you’re an asshat and a moral, intellectual coward. Iraq was fucked the minute Bush decided to go in, before he was elected.
I expect and deserve no praise for admitting my error. My future judgment should be discounted by readers according to my record. What steps have I taken to protect myself from similar, future error? First, I pay a lot more attention to the opinions and writings of people who knew invading Iraq was idiotic and criminal from the get go. Second, I pay a lot more attention to people who do less cheerleading and more dissenting; in fact, I seek them out (may I say again how much I love our comments section?). Third, I don’t trust the people who shovelled all that bullshit I swallowed whole. Problem is, they’re still shovelling it.
Establishment Democrats, it’s time to admit the DLC has really fucked over the party and the American people. If the party makes significant gains in 2006, it will be in spite of, and not because of, the efforts of DLC loyalists like DCCC head Rahm Emanuel. A sizable portion of Americans are like me: they supported the invasion and now know they fucked up. They may not understand why they fucked up, but if Democratic leaders are to have any credibility with the majority public, they need to do their own version of what I just did. More honesty equals more credibility equals greater turnout equals greater gains in 2006. Even if you lack the sense to do the right thing for moral reasons, the public is ahead of you: do it based on calculation. It’s what you do best (and much of why you fucked up in the first place).
Establishment Democrats need to take responsibility for their past stupid statements and votes, doing more than simply claim they were misled. Not fucking good enough. It was their job to lead, to hold the executive branch accountable. If you want to be trusted and respected, you need to tell us why we should trust your future judgment after you blew the biggest issue of your political careers, costing and ruining American lives along with a couple of trillion dollars that could have gone toward curing global AIDS or developing new energy technologies.
Here’s a test for you. If you supported the invasion or insufficiently challenged the administration as it schemed, meet with Cindy Sheehan and ask for her forgiveness, and not just as a photo op. If you’re currently making the evasive "incompetence" argument, then get in front of a fucking microphone and admit that yes, the administration is incompetent, but even more essentially, it is corrupt and dangerously wrong in its fundamental philosophy of governing. Admit you went along for the ride.
If you lack the guts and integrity to do any of those things, then what good are you?
Media elites and journalists, you have your own shit to sort out. You’ve been appeasing a ruthless American right wing for decades and now there’s blood on your hands. Hell, Jim Brady is still trying to balance out an estimable journalist who challenges power with another hack pre-enlightenment replacement for Box Turtle Ben. Brady, you’re a pathetic fucking loser who doesn’t get it. Tender your resignation.
As for me, I’m an insignificant person, not a policy maker. I never voted for Bush, though I played some small part within my own world supporting the invasion. For that, I apologize. By way of some small amends, I’m working politically as best I can to replace the current regime and build a vibrant, ascendant American progressive movement.