blogenlust
1.21.2005

Tilting at Windmills


It's interesting to read all the post-speech commentaries glow about the ambitious, idealistic, and historic agenda put forth by the President. For 24 hours, at least, it seemed that "the expansion of freedom in all the world" was easy and without consequence. In fact, without any mention of Iraq and Afghanistan, one could almost forget that half a world a way, the very ideals and ambition adored by 51% of the country, have failed miserably for over a year, with no end in sight. This speech wasn't ambitious, it was audacious. It wasn't idealistic, it was out of touch. And it was far more Quixotic than Wilsonian. How much worse do things need to get in Iraq for people (and much of the fawning press) to start recognizing the disconnect between this:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
And this:
BAGHDAD, Jan. 21 -- A car bomb exploded outside a Shiite Muslim mosque killing 15 people and wounding 40 in Baghdad on Friday as worshipers celebrated one of the year's most important Muslim holidays. Police cordoned off the Taf Mosque in southwest Baghdad so it was not possible to observe the scene, but survivors taken to Yarmouk Hospital described a white car plowing into the mosque and detonating.
The only reason this disconnect is allowed to exist is because we've become numb to the death and destruction in Iraq. Reports of the daily car bombs are read like sports scores on the news, often quickly and out of context. Flag-draped coffins and the wounded are censored from our view, lest we start to realize that exporting freedom has real consequences. As a country, we've hardly been asked to sacrifice (unless you're in the military), and have actually been "rewarded" economically with tax cuts. But listening to the President, you'd think the negative effects of our actions were just a bad dream cooked up by his opponents. Some have accused Bush's rhetoric as being too idealistic. I don't think that was a mistake. This Administration has always tried to mask its failures and scams in the rhetoric of idealism and crisis. Yesterday was no different. To obscure how massively he's failed at implementing these ideas, Bush had no choice but to overcompensate and act as though he was our Messianic Savior who re-invented sliced bread. It's actually a good indication of how we're doing: the more rosy a picture Bush paints, the worse off we are.