In other words, LET'S JUST BRING THEM THE HELL HOME! Moose is creeped out by the appeal to national interests and the assumption that the failure to "engineer" a stable government in Iraq is due more to a problem of time than to a flaw in the conception of the whole fiasco of U. S. involvement there. Nonetheless, what is really striking in this paragraph is the role played by the reiterated "I": "I believe that the costs and risks. . . ," "I do not come to this conclusion lightly. . . .," "I do not doubt the assessments. . . ." Lugar's "I" is a slender, modest figure, a cautious man who has come to his decision after great deliberation and with some reluctance. One would call him self-effacing, except that Lugar's slender "I" keeps asserting himself into the paragraph and shoulders the heavy moral burden of publicly breaking with his party and his president on a matter of considerable urgency and import.
I believe that the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved by doing so. Persisting with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our interests over the long term. I do not come to this conclusion lightly, particularly given that Gen. David Petraeus will deliver a formal report in September on his efforts to improve security. I do not doubt the assessments of military commanders that there has been progress in security. But three factors -- the political fragmentation in Iraq, the growing stress on our military and the constraints of our domestic political process -- are converging to make it almost impossible for the United States to engineer a stable, multi-sectarian government in Iraq in a reasonable time.
Americans -- and especially, perhaps, Midwesterners -- love this particular "I": cautious yet courageous, humble yet forceful, plain-spoken but not crude. (Yes, it's true, Lugar reminds Moose of her own late mild-mannered Midwestern dad, who spoke softly yet always managed to make her listen.) Lugar's "I" is no maverick on some self-promoting "Straight Talk Express." He is a team player, a company man, comfortable sitting at the table. When he bucks the tide, the other guys at the table can't dismiss him as a renegade or a loon. He is one of them, and he has broken the thick silence that had taken over the room.
So, fellas, are you listening yet? Will you tune in to a reasonable man who tells you that your "vital interests" are no longer being served by this disastrously misguided policy? Or will you close your eyes and pretend that Lugar is a wild-eyed woman in a pink tee-shirt?
(Wa Po has a piece today suggesting Lugar may not be alone in his party in his skepticism toward Bush's war policies. It's here.)
Another cranky old white guy deserving of praise this week is 87-year old Justice John Paul Stevens, whose continued good health you should pray for every day of your lives. Stevens dissented in the ridiculous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, which pretty much eviscerated the First Amendment rights of high school students, and he did so by comparing the current ban on marijuana to Prohibition and suggesting that marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated instead of prohibited. In his dissent, Stevens writes:
[T]he current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our anti-marijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs.Goose wept when she read these words and insists that Roxie's World declare the Honorable Justice Stevens our first Official Righteous Dude of the Week. It is so ordered.
Meanwhile, Tom Toles brilliantly skewers the unrighteous dudes on the Supreme Court who comprised the majority in the "Bong Hits" case, so we'll let him have the last word today:
Or maybe not quite the last word: You may not hear from your favorite dog blogger for a few days, kids. The moms are off on another little summer jaunt, this time to Texas for my Uncle Bobby's "When I'm 64" birthday party, which will include a gig at Austin's amazing Broken Spoke. Happy birthday, Bobby, and please, please, please, try to keep my moms off the stage!