The following personal commentary, on NPR's "All Things Considered" today, is so eloquent that I decided I had to find it, listen to it again, and transcribe it... to share with as many people as possible. If you want, you can hear it at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6817201 - - or just read it below.
Introduction: Commentator Rod Dreher, of the Dallas Morning News, has been a conservative since he was a teenager. He came of age in the 1980's, a Gen-X'er who never understood the baby boomer protest generation. Now, on the cusp of turning 40, he's still a conservative. But he's so dismayed at the way President Bush is handling the Iraq war, many of his prior beliefs have come into question, and he thinks the anti-war crowd may have been on to something after all.
Mr. Dreher: My first real political memory came in 1979. It was listening to Jimmy Carter tell the nation about the failed hostage rescue mission. I hated him for that. I hated him for the whole Iran mess, shaming America before our enemies with weakness and incompetence. When Ronald Reagan was elected president the next year, I stayed up late for his victory speech. America was saved! I was 13 years old, and I was a Reaganite, from that moment on.
My generation came of age, politically, under Reagan. To me, he was strong and confident. Democrats were weak and depressed. Like so many other Gen-X'ers, I disliked people I thought of as "hippies", those blame-America-first liberals, so hung up on Vietnam. They surrendered to the Communists then, just like they want to do now. Republicans were winners, Democrats defeatists. What more did you need to know?
On September 11th 2001, I stood on the Brooklyn Bridge and watched in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed. "Thank God we have a Republican in the White House!" I comforted myself. As President Bush marched the country towards war with Iraq in 2003, even some voices on the right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic. But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.
In Iraq, this Republican president, for whom I voted twice, has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence. And the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did. The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me. It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican president. Not after Reagan.
I turn 40 next month. Middle age at last. A time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. What I did not expect was to live to see the limits and finitude of America's power, revealed so painfully. I did not expect... Vietnam.
As I sat in my office last night, watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war. I had a heretical thought for a conservative - - that I've got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take presidents and generals at their word... that their government would send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot... that they have to question authority.
On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me - - hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely? Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day... what powerful men their father once believed in, did to this country.
Heavy thoughts for someone who's still a conservative, despite it all. It was a long drive home.