November 04, 2004

Uplink. Doth distance soften the blow?

Yeah dudes. Tell me how you guys are over there. Course will be stayed, for sure. I can offer you no good news from this side of the pacific, as surely as you can offer me no good news from yours.

I did have tuesday and wednesday off. I didn't particularly do much with them, as after being rather inconsiderately run off the road tuesday my bicycle was out of commision. The bumps and scrapes didn't annoy me nearly as much as the $200 or so it will cost to fix. Skin costs like zero dollars to heal.

Then again wednesday I was remarkably sore when I got up, and didn't feel like doing much. So one of the kids here has cable and gets CNN, so we all hung out and watched the election. It wasn't too awesome. By 5 or so in the afternoon (3am EST), the place was littered with bags of chips and cookies, discarded ice cream wrappers, microwave burrito casings, and plenty of empty alcohol containers as well. We had initially planned to go out to dinner, but no one had the appetite nor spirit to do so.

So yeah, you could say I'm not happy about how the election went, if only cause the guy I voted for didn't win. But more than dissapointing, to me it's really puzzling. Unfortunately I've never had a chance to have an intelligent conversation about this stuff with someone who supports Bush, because almost everyone I know is opposed to him. But there are smart dudes out there voting for him, and they've definetly got their own well thought out reasons for doing so. One must concede this point -- you don't get fifty million people voting for you without a fair share of thoughtful, coherent, respectable dudes in there.

What's perplexing is that to me, Bush seems to have failed in many aspects of his presidency, and failed spectacularly. Not me, but failed his supporters -- I voted against him 4 years ago, and didn't expect him to do much of anything I'd approve of, so he can hardly be said to have "failed" me as a president. But even the most right wing military hawk Bush supporters can't be happy with the situation in Iraq... can they?

I read the Wall Street Journal every day in college, which was more or less the first term of Bush's presidency. And I've never heard it claimed that the WSJ is a particularly liberal institution. But all the print seemed to tell the story of an arrogant leader, plunging his country into whatever situation he deemed nessecary, heedless of the lessons of history. There were brilliant historical articles about the british attempts to subdue and control what is modern Iraq, and the invitable failures they faced. There were disturbing reports of rampant pillaging in Baghdad, and countless "terrorists" fighting back against an invading army, and even attacking those in their own country who would associate with them. The abuses in the US run prison system, the newly coined "illegal enemy combatants", all were nicely set into six columns per page and read on the bench in front of Doherty Hall. Warlords in Afghanistan, a record heroin crop, the entire debacle of "WMD", the "axis of evil"... and to sum it up nicely, the term "shock and awe."

From my vantage on that bench, I didn't see how the people who elected Bush could be happy with all this. Of course the people out protesting on the streets of New York, the people who hated him all along before he even did anything, well of course they were just livid. But they wouldn't have liked him anyway. Had Iraq capitulated in a day, and fallen quickly in line with our democratic ideas, and indeed become an utopian pillar of freedom or whatever shining amongst the darkness of the Middle East, the guys with dreadlocks and greenpeace shirts would still hate him. They would not grudgingly admit that he was right, that maybe the ends, in this case, sortof justified the means. No, they would decry the "imperialism" whatever the outcome had been.

Perhaps so, too, Bush's supporters stand by him, whatever the outcome of his bold actions. That could be a reason he was just re-elected. The other possibilities, that his supporters either think things are going well in Iraq, or think it just isn't important, are simply misinformed, or disturbingly isolationist, respectively. But could some people just "not care" about "that whole Iraq thing"? You read statistics all the time about about such-and-such-preposterously-high percentage of folks think that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, or that Saddam funded the attacks in September, 2001... and maybe people are just sadly uninformed, or maybe they have better things to do than sit around and read the paper and worry about some country 15,000 miles away.

But no... I can't concede that about my countrymen. I can't sarcastically, bitterly, dismiss the population as "stupid". That's pretty juvenile. "Everyone in America is stuuupid. I said so. I said so infinity. Uh-uh, infinity plus one!"

I can, however, concede that they're stubborn, and will stick by their decision even under mounting evidence that it was the wrong one. Cause a lot of times it doesn't seem like valid evidence, especially at first. And no one wants to admit mistakes, and were anyone who felt this way to read this, they'd contest that they were even mistakes in the first place. That I can live with.

This said, I'm hardly enthusiastic about what the next four years may bring. If anyone wants to come wait it out for a while here in Japan, you're welcome to; I'll show you around. And I offer my condolances to the kids out in Ohio, who were working to get Kerry elected... that must be really rough.

So yeah. What do you guys think about the whole thing?

Posted by tadge at November 4, 2004 04:51 PM