Thursday, August 11

BOTH KINDS OF STUPID

Eric Boehlert contends that wingnut bloggers and talk radio hosts are attacking a large group of Americans when they take on Cindy Sheehan.

But what if Sheehan were guilty of a full 180-degree turnaround? What if, even in the wake of her son's death in 2004, Sheehan had praised Bush's leadership, only to become a critic by the summer of 2005? What would be so hard to understand about that?

Sheehan herself put it best. Speaking with Air America recently, she noted, "Why is my meeting in June of 2004 relevant? Over 1,100 more soldiers are dead since then, the Downing Street memo report [has come] out, the Senate intelligence report has come out, and the 9/11 Commission report has come out. Saddam is gone, they've had free democratic elections in Iraq, and our troops are still there."

In other words, things change, information accumulates and people react accordingly. Apparently, however, bloggers like Michelle Malkin, who took it upon herself in one of her posts to speak for Sheehan's dead son (does their arrogance know no bounds?), have convinced themselves that thinking people simply do not change their opinions about dynamic issues like war and peace, ever. No matter how strong the insurgency in Iraq grows, no matter how many coalition countries walk away from the rebuilding effort, no matter how many dates are set for Iraq's sovereignty, no matter how many Americans are killed, no matter how many billions of dollars Halliburton pockets with no-bid contracts, no matter how much evidence accumulates that the Bush administration was both dishonest about the war during the run-up and incompetent during the so-called reconstruction, Americans, let alone parents of dead service members, are not supposed to alter their views. They're not supposed to flip-flop.

Somebody forgot to tell the U.S. adult population, because just within the past few months there's been an awful lot of flip-flopping going on regarding Iraq, with more and more Americans heading for the exits. According to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, released Monday, 57 percent of American adults think the war has made the United States less safe from terrorism. That's up 18 percentage points in just 60 days.

Additionally, in the same new poll, 54 percent said they believe it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq, while 44 percent said it was not a mistake. Those figures are reversed, in a 17-point swing, from those in June.

It seems pretty clear that until the mess in Iraq is cleaned up, more and more Americans are going to join Sheehan in opposing the war. And the ranks of alleged flip-floppers will continue to grow.


All my life I have admired people with open minds who adjust their thinking according to the best information available at the time. I thought everyone did. But it seems that in this generation, for some unthinking people, intransigence is the more admirable trait. They prefer the mule that plods stubbornly upon its course and gets bitten by the snake in its path to the horse that rears up and changes direction to avoid the danger.

As the guy in Hoosiers said, "Mister, there are two kinds of stupid. One kind is the man who strips naked and runs through the woods howling at the moon. The other is the man who does the same thing in your living room. One of them you don't have to worry about, the other you're kind of forced to deal with."

In his wilder days, Bush seemed to be the first kind. Now he's the second, and Cindy's trying to deal with him the best way she knows how. The rest of us have to find our own way of coping.

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