One war, two wars: But who’s counting?

This morning we ran an editorial calling upon the nation to unite after the election, and quoting something S.C. Supt. of Ed. Jim Rex had said:

“What’s important for our students to know is that after elections, Americans come together,” Dr. Rex wrote. “We have enormous challenges ahead of us — a war on two fronts, an economy in crisis, a broken health care system, and so much more. We cannot stand to be divided one more day. Regardless of who wins, it’s time for us to work together to move this country forward and create a better, more stable America for our children and grandchildren."

Did you catch the little grace note there that made his message truly bipartisan — his reference to "a war on two fronts?" In case you missed it, that is decidedly not the official Democratic Party version.

We were reminded of that last night in Barack Obama’s otherwise gracious, affirming victory speech, in which he sincerely called on the nation to come together, but nevertheless repeated the official Democratic Party version of reality:

we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril…

And so we continue with the refusal to acknowledge either a) the global war on terror, or b) that Iraq is part of it. It makes me wonder: When we act against al Qaida in Somalia, or Yemen or Pakistan or Indonesia, are those third and fourth and fifth and sixth wars, etc.?

Sorry to be such a nitpicker. I truly thought Obama’s speech was good, and appreciated its attempts to reach beyond party.

Likewise, I appreciated the graciousness of John McCain’s acceptance speech, even though one could detect partisan difference in that even when he was trying the hardest to reach out:

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

Did you catch it? Yes, it’s a very Republican thing to say those Americans "WRONGLY  believed that they had little at stake or little influence." Democrats would likely leave out the "wrongly."

Bottom line, I appreciated both speeches, for what they did, and more, for what they meant to do. I can think of no recent election in which both victor and defeated were so gracious at the critical moment.

But I’m an editor; I pick at words. And even while I’m applauding, these little flaws jump out at me. File them under the heading of "how far we have yet to go," even on agreeing about the nature of reality.

28 thoughts on “One war, two wars: But who’s counting?

  1. Lee Muller

    Is the war which Clinton began in Yugoslavia, and which is still going, one war, two, or three now that NATO re-Balkanized the region?

  2. slugger

    We arrived at a crossroads when the people elected Obama president yesterday. Instead of a straight road to saving this nation from what could be separating the rich from the poor we are left to choose which road to take.
    You can join the feel good rhetoric of Obama and believe that we need to unite behind his plan to share the wealth. I am not sure that is not what we are already doing in the bailout.
    We could maybe stay on the straight and narrow that was formulated by our founding fathers for a nation that you are rewarded by the fruits of your labor.
    Take the wrong turn in the road and we will experience what other nations that wanted to share the wealth found out. It does not work. You can only expect the hardworking tax paying individual to resent having to share more of his hard earned money to pay for those that will not work and take no responsibility for their personal lives.
    You can join the march to communism//socialism or you can decide to not take that walk. You are “the master of your fate and the captain of your soul”.

  3. Lee Muller

    The Democrats’ entire platform is about putting a majority of Americans in a state of dependency on government handouts. The party has no desire to reduce poverty, and you’ll notice that none of their programs helped the poor people.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Share the wealth? He’s not gonna share the wealth! If he wanted to share the wealth in a way that would matter, that would help, he would have come up with a single-payer health plan. But he didn’t, and now it’s too late, and so I don’t care what he plans to do with our “wealth,” because we aren’t going to have any when we get done paying our health insurance premiums anyway…

  5. Phillip

    If, as an editor, you feel it is your job to “pick at words,” I suggest you pick at these:
    “Global War on Terror.”
    You ask if Somalia, Yemen, etc. represent the third, fourth wars, etc.
    I ask you then if Aum Shinrikyo, the ETA Basque separatists, and the Tamil Tigers would represent the seventh, eighth, and ninth fronts of the “global war on terror,” if that were the appropriate term for what we seek to do.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Dig this. It’s from a David Broder column embargoed for tomorrow (it’ll be on our oped page):

    Probably no one in our history has been elected into a leadership of a nation simultaneously fighting two wars, grappling with a global economic breakdown and facing huge challenges in its medical system, its energy system and its fiscal system.

    See it? Two wars. Here we go again.

    This is gonna get real old, real fast.

  7. Barchibald T Barlow

    Mr. Warthen,
    How is it too late for Obama to support single payer? He’s still over 2 months away from his presidency, and then he has 4-8 years!
    Also, we ARE fighting two wars! We went into Afghanistan and we went into Iraq for two completely different reasons!

  8. Lee Muller

    We went after the Al Qaeda leaders and bases in Afghanistan, and the Al Qaeda leaders and bases in Iraq. We destroyed the bases in Afghanistan and captured the two hijacker training bases in Iraq.
    Saddam Hussein was also financing suicide bombers by paying the families and financing the missions. We stopped that.
    We also stopped all black market oil sales from Iraq to Europe, and exposed 280 European and UN officials who were being bribed by Saddam, or getting rich moving the oil. This included Kofi Annan’s son.

  9. Brad Warthen

    It’s too late because — well, I explained it in a column about a year ago. In brief, it’s a task that takes so much political heavy lifting that ONLY a president who had RUN on the issue and won could possibly have the leverage with Congress to overcome the insurance industry lobby’s deathlock on our system. It’s the kind of change that needs a mandate.
    If Obama had RUN on it, he could say to the leaders of Congress, look, you’ve got to get out of the way on this; the people have spoken. He can’t do that now. Without that kind of leverage, he can’t go over the heads of the Congress and the lobbyists to make it happen.
    I’d love to be proven wrong. To me, the only possible good in having doctrinaire liberal Democrats in charge of the White House, the Senate and the House would be if they would enact a National Health Plan. But watch — they won’t. They’ll give us judges who protect Roe for another generation, and push to pull us precipitously out of Iraq (which I HOPE Obama will resist for a more responsible approach), get rid of the rules that protect workers who don’t want to join a union, kill free trade and make sure we never commit troops except for “peacekeeping” missions (of course, you know me; I’m all for the peacekeeping missions — but I think we have to do some of the warmaking ones, too).
    But they won’t give us the one great liberal idea that could do the country a lot of good — they won’t give us single-payer.
    Again, I’d LOVE to be wrong.

  10. Phillip

    Brad, I’m worried that so many Lee Muller comments have wormed their way into your subconscious this election season. Look, I’d love to see single-payer as much as you, but did it ever occur to you that Barack Obama is…hold onto your chair now…NOT a “doctrinaire liberal Democrat”? That that could be a reason why he doesn’t embrace single-payer, because he doesn’t believe in it?
    Sounds like on all the other issues you’ve already rendered your verdict on the first term of Obama before he’s so much as named his chief of staff.

  11. Ben (The Tiger)

    Perhaps it’s just the Republican in me, but given that McCain lost & Obama won on the strength of those previous non-participants in the political process, isn’t it self-evidently true that those “many millions” of Americans who may have believed that they had no stake or influence in the electoral process were wrong to so believe?
    Mind you, I supported McCain, so I wish that they’d continued to feel & act that way…

  12. Lee Muller

    Obama’s writings dismiss his supporters. He has his own socialist agenda. Some casual non-citizens who got whipped up into voting for “change” and pagentry mean nothing to him. He knows they will go back to watching MTV and Oprah and not hold him accountable.
    What Obama and his handlers want to do is destroy the insurance industry with mandatory government medicine. That way, if the voters toss them out, the new administration and Congress have no private sector to restore.

  13. Phillip

    Ben, you’re absolutely right and in that respect I agree with the “wrongly” inserted in McCain’s speech as Brad mentioned. Moreover, out of these many millions of new participants in the system, a great many will take their participation beyond the mere voting stage, into the realm of activism and running for office at the grass-roots levels. The stunning margins racked up among voters 30-and-under by Obama and Democrats does not augur well for the GOP.
    Brad, a quibble about today’s editorial about the election in the paper—it says Obama won 349 electoral votes, but does not mention that it is likely to end up as 364 electoral votes, pending NC’s certification. A very important state for Obama all year, as it turned out.

  14. Lee Muller

    Obama only won by 30 urban counties.
    Another way of looking at it is that Obama won entirely by absentee ballots. That is how a lot of Democrats seem to win these days.

  15. zzazzeefrazzee

    Hey Brad, ever thought to compare those two speeches with what we’ve heard over the last 8 years? Could it be that compared to such a long-held precedent, you are being a bit zealous?
    Just to remind you, there may be a certain salvo in the form of something called a “Blue Dog Democrat”. It will be very interesting to see which of Obama’s policies will actually come to pass their rigorous scrutiny.
    Of course, I must confess that you’re not as zealous as Herr Müller! That’s a very “special” sort of zeal that most sensible folks have little time or patience for.

  16. Karen McLeod

    Brad, I don’t see it as a war with 2 fronts; I see it as 2 different wars. The one in Afghanistan is properly one against terrorists. We went in there in pursuit of those who bombed the towers. The one in Iraq is quite different; Iraq was not a threat to us. Al-Qaida was not there until we invaded that country. Maybe Pres. Bush actually believed there were WMD’s in there. I don’t know. I think he had other motives whether he was consciously aware of them or not. Either way, Iraq was not and is not a threat to us, and we have no business continuing to occupy their country. We need to get back to the war against actual terrorists.

  17. Karen McLeod

    As I said, Al-Qaida was not in Iraq until we got there. By invading Iraq, Mr. Bush did more to swell Bin Laden’s ranks than almost anything else he could have done. By toppling Saddam Hussein, who did not want to share anything with Bin Laden, he effectively opened that country to Al-Qaida. Now it’s a real mess. We owe the Iraqis to fix it, but I suspect the closest we can come to fixing it is to just get out.

  18. Capital A

    Perhaps it’s just the Republican in me, but given that McCain lost & Obama won on the strength of those previous non-participants in the political process, isn’t it self-evidently true that those “many millions” of Americans who may have believed that they had no stake or influence in the electoral process were wrong to so believe?
    Mind you, I supported McCain, so I wish that they’d continued to feel & act that way…
    Posted by: Ben (The Tiger) | Nov 5, 2008 11:40:53 PM
    Ben, I think that’s an honest and insightful admission on your part…doubly and triply so because you’re a Tiger and a Republican.
    A black female who was in line behind me at the polls repeatedly raved and chirped about how commended blacks should be for showing up in this election. I made the point to her that none of them deserve golden cookies, so to speak.
    Where were they in the 2000 and 2004 elections when fellow Democrats and myself were fighting “losing” battles? No person should be commended for doing his or her duty to this country; it’s expected!
    When blacks show up for an election without a non-white candidate as the focus or one where their votes are not “needed” to defeat a Republican regime, then we’ll know we’re making real, not perceived, progress in this country.

  19. Bart

    Check the sunrise in the morning to see if it rises the West, not the East. Find a compass and see if the North Pole and South Pole have changed positions overnight. Go to the internet and see if Obama has asked Bush to become his Secretary of State. Why, you may ask should I check to see if the impossible and improbable have occurred overnight? Because I am about to agree with Capital A.
    I will leave it as written because Capital A’s words in this instance are sufficient to express the sentiment.
    Here goes …… “When blacks show up for an election without a non-white candidate as the focus or one where their votes are not “needed” to defeat a Republican regime, then we’ll know we’re making real, not perceived, progress in this country.”…..
    When that fateful day comes, if ever, when blacks do not walk in lockstep with the Democrat party and actually consider the issues, think for themselves, and leave the victim mentality behind, and start looking inward for accountability instead of a malevolent government hiding behind a benevolent mask, equality will be achieved at last. Until then, the same problems will continue to plague us and a resolution always just out or reach.
    There are no “golden cookie” awards for going to the polls and voting. It is a right and priviledge, something generations before bequeathed to us with the ultimate sacrifice of blood. Something fought for in the streets of America to give women and blacks the right to vote.
    No matter who you support, voting is a duty. As John Denver once said, “If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.”

  20. Brad Warthen

    Karen, let me ask you something: If al-Qaeda is in Pakistan, and we can’t get AT them in Pakistan, on account of the fact that Pakistan gets really, REALLY upset when we go in there after them, and they’re a sovereign country and all (which doesn’t bother ME; I still think it was a good idea to follow the enemy into Cambodia in 1970, but presumably a lot of folks who voted for Obama Tuesday disagree, although not necessarily Obama himself, which is another topic), then isn’t it kind of a good thing to draw them into Iraq, where we happen to have troops to fight them?
    Sorry about the long sentence, there.

  21. Lee Muller

    How dense are you? You can repeat the lies to yourself all day long, but Al Qaeda was in Iraq. We captured 2 hijacker training camps in Iraq. We captured and killed several of Bin Laden’s top men, who had been in Iraq since the 1990s.

  22. Michelle

    Karen isn’t dense at all. Al Qaeda wasn’t present in Iraq until after we invaded the country. Al Qaeda was used as a pretext to fight George W. Bush’s personal vendetta against that country. And how many Americans have died as a result?

  23. p.m.

    “Isn’t it kind of a good thing to draw them (Al Qaeda) into Iraq, where we happen to have troops to fight them?” – Brad
    “Al Qaeda wasn’t present in Iraq until after we invaded the country.” – Michelle
    Right, Michelle. That’s what Brad said.
    We tricked them out of hiding so they could have a shot at martyrdom and a never-ending stream of virgins and cheeze blintzes.
    Reading comprehension in this country has fallen below “see” level.
    And, yes, I spelled “see” that way on purpose.

  24. Lee Muller

    If Al-Qaeda was in Iraq during the Clinton years. Saddam Hussein offered shelter for Bin Laden, but he chose to keep moving around, from country to country. Other Al Qaeda leaders did move to Iraq.
    The Al Qaeda hijacker training bases captured by the US Army were shown to John Kerry and others in 1998 briefings.

  25. Lee Muller

    There is also truth that a lot of Al Qaeda and other Muslims flocked to Iraq to fight the US troops. We slaughtered them, just like we wiped out the Viet Cong in 1968 when they went on the Tet Offensive.
    I was talking to an Army Engineer on Monday, just back from his second tour of Iraq. He said the northern area used to be to dangerous, with so many guerrillas there, supplied by Syria and Iran.
    This last tour, forces under Petraeas had so annihilated the guerrillas, that his job was to construct huge cemetaries for them.

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