Ask a Stupid Question...

Here’s a question I’m so tired of hearing that each time a war supporter now utters it, I feel as though I may slip into a coma at any moment: “Do you want us to win in Iraq?”

In the past couple of days, Lynne Cheney has directed this question at Wolf Blitzer and Bill O’Reilly has directed it at David Letterman, two good little soldiers who have in their debate arsenals nothing but rejoinders issued straight from GOP Talking Points Headquarters. Any attempt to point out the question is ludicrous on its face is met with some variation on what O’Reilly lobbed back at Letterman: “It’s an easy question.” To his credit, Letterman didn’t back down, but instead replied, “It's not easy for me because I'm thoughtful.”

Amen, brother.

I despair that patriotism and pragmatism have become mutually exclusive. Before that “easy” question can be answered by anyone with two brain cells still knocking together, a few other question have to be answered, like What is the definition of winning? and Can we win it? and If so, how are we going to? You know, the kind of questions that certain people resistant to the hypnotic combination of flag-waving and fear-mongering were asking before the war, people who were dismissed as unpatriotic cuckoos. To continue to question whether a person with legitimate questions and concerns wants to win is to obfuscate the frustrating reality that those other questions still have not been answered, three years on.

The implication has been, since before we ever marched into Iraq, that people with “hard” questions never wanted us to win, and still don’t. But speaking as someone who has never viewed “Do you want us to win in Iraq?” a fair question under these circumstances, wanting us to win was never as important to me to understanding whether we could. I have never suffered from the misapprehension that my will and desire to win could magically overcome a lack of competence and ability to win. I never felt able to root for an illusion.

(Crossposted at Ezra's place.)

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