Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Now That The Party Is Over

In the past 24 hours, more than 14,000 people have read the post about me and Tash's trip to the Iraqi Expat Polls, and the response has been nothing short of astounding. After Instapundit picked me up, I got a hit about every 2 seconds, for roughly 24 hours. Of those 14,000 people, roughly a hundred wrote me letters, which came every five minutes or so. Most of these letters were really heartfelt, well-thought out messages that helped restore my faith in conservatives in general, and internet users specifically.

A lot of people said that they'd bookmark this blog and come back regularly, which is amazing. It also creates a lot of pressure. See, last week I was just preaching to the choir and I could say pretty much any old thing I felt like. Now the pressure's on to be reasonable and intelligent.

It's really important to communicate across the boundaries in this divided nation, but it's really hard, too. It takes a lot of restraint and it's a serious responsibility. See, I have a lot of political opinions but I more than enjoy a bit of fecal humor. Does all this attention mean I have to let that go?

Preaching to the converted allows a certain comfortable freedom. Before, I could just kinda shoot from the hip with a few cheap shots and inside jokes. Then the twenty to eighty liberals that actually read this thing would share a guffaw and get back to our whipped soy half-caf lattes and the serious business of undermining the institution of marriage.

Now I've got to use my brain and my heart IN TANDEM and it's tricky. It's all well and good to stand on a street corner and holler, but once people listen, it's human nature to make sure you can really get behind what you're shouting. I've had my ideas and the fallacies within them dissected and re-presented to me over and over the past few days, and it's pretty sobering.

But I really need to make something pretty clear here. Just because I took the trouble to seek my own truth and talk to some people who benefited from the war, thereby changing my own viewpoints...that doesn't mean I'm conservative now. I haven't broken through some shining gate and just up and joined another team--I've just opened my mind a bit and written about it. It's actually something I am trying to make a writing career from.

It's just that 13,800 of you haven't read my other stuff. Thinking for yourself doesn't mean you joined a particular group. It just means you're confident enough in your own perceptions that you can get outside them.

Because I describe myself as a liberal, a lot of people think that's a big deal. I think it's important that everyone remember that just because we agree on a few things it doesn't mean we agree about everything. All of the best, most moving letters I've received recently acknowledge this. However, the majority of the sites that picked my link up seemed to think that my essay was the equivalent of Darth Vader taking off his mask in Return of the Jedi.

On the flip side again, a man named Lt. Smash nearly moved me to tears yesterday with his emails. Read them here. I'd like to be friends with that guy.

A lot of people wrote to tell me that I sounded really young, and they, too were like me when they were my age...and once I was 45 or 50 or whatever, I'd be Republican too. Maybe so. Who knows. But goddamnit if I am going to join hand with someone who makes my entire belief structure sound like wetting the bed. I swear, nothing sucks like being patted on the back for openmindedness with one hand and patted on the head for being all cute and naive with the other.

According to the U.S. Census, 28,899,571 Americans were between 18 and 24 as of April, 2003. An additional 84,243,194 were between 25 and 44 at the same time. That's an awful lot of youthful idealism with the right to vote, and I think those numbers should be taken seriously.

Lest I devolve into a total snark, let me say a few other things, and I'm done:

1) I don't always blog about politics. There's travel writing, rock and roll, fine art and total weirdness on here as well. There's a guy named Clarence who is a history teacher at a Virginia Juvenile Facility that sends me stuff from time to time.

2) Just because the war in Iraq freed a lot of suffering people doesn't mean the way the administration went about starting the war and selling it to the people is right. Iraqis weeping and voting is tremendous and incredible, but it is not a mandate for the Bush administration to do any old fucked up thing it feels like doing.

3) I'll be watching the State of the Union tonight, and comments are sure to follow.

4) I want to go to the Walter Read hospital here in D.C, visit some soldiers and have a look at the domestic human cost of this war as well. Stick around.

5) I am really, deeply honored to have your attention, and I promise to try not to squander it. Again, I've been lucky enough to read a real outpouring of understanding and ideological generosity in the past few days, and it gives me hope that America is not as divided in black and white redstate bluestate areas, and that we can come back together. There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm thrilled that we might be doing it together.

11 Comments:

At 1:39 PM, Blogger TmjUtah said...

Jeff -

I read back through your posts and especially liked the part one of your 'roo hunting experience. I look forward to seeing how you communicate the rest of the story.

I think getting that right will be at least as jarring to your readers as your account and conclusions stemming from your poll visit. Talk about visiting different worlds and such...

I spent a couple of weeks in SW Australia back in the eighties. Most of the field time was in Lancellin National Park, and that was followed by just more than a week of liberty in the Perth/Freemantle area.

I declined an invitation for a shooting day (feral cats and kangaroos). It seemed kind of a waste to shoot kangaroos after travelling five thousand miles for a chance to see them in the wild. And I am a cat person.

Australia reminded me a lot of West Texas in spite of being one of three places that have struck me as fundamentally "different" from the first moment I set foot on them. I guess it was the people more than anything else. I know it's hard to fit miles of gum trees and herds of kangaroo into any semblance of Texas - unless you've ever driven the Permian Basin through the endless mesquite and jack rabbit speed bumps. Australia, Kenya, and the Aleutians all felt like different planets. Everywhere else has been ground differentiated by language or different architecture.

Good luck on the writing, sir. I'll be checking back.

 
At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, I hear you, and would strongly advise you to be yourself. Some of the pro-Bush, libertarian sites that have gained a lot of traffic also engage in occasional naughty banter, such as Bill at InDC Journal. (Sorry, don't have a link handy.) Or Dean Esmay. These guys are pro-gay and not sexual prudes, by any means; Dean can be pretty free with "fuck."

My suggestion would be to continue engaging other bloggers, such as Lt. Smash, and keep the conversation going -- just track the tenor and tone of the other guys' blogs when you are on their turf. This conversation among bloggeres has been a way cool phenomenon, and welcome to it.

I also want to underscore that I feared my initial comments would be taken as condescending, and I do not mean to project on you. Keep writing in your own voice and let's just say "fuck labels," ok?

Finally, a lot of the high-traffic blogs sometimes have postings about things the author is keen on, but which leave me uninterested. Instapundit is a technology freak, an area I find only marginally interesting, and I seldom read the links he provides in that area. The lawyers at Power Line, when they are not opining live on Fox or MSNBC and slaying anti-Bushites at their blog, post about sports and beauty contests(!). So, do as you will.

Just keep the place salted with substantive posts, and you should do fine, especially if you engage the reasonable bloggers in the pro-Bush/Iraq war camp. **REASONABLE** people disagreeing in civil terms is one of the neatest things about being part of the Internet. And most commenting here so far have been remarkably eloquent and civil; this is a good sign.

--Mona--

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger bikubonjin said...

Jeff,
I'm an ex-pat who has lived abroad since 1994. My earliest memories are of my parents protesting the war in Vietnam and going door to door for McGovern. As a Democrat I was raised, through and through. Yet I have voted for Bush twice. Why? The first time because of my disgust for the Clinton policies with regards to east Asia. If you want to dig into an interesting topic look at our appeasement of North Korea and the genocide (I don't use this word lightly as too many on the hard left do) that has occured there. Find out why Mondale suddenly resigned his position as ambassador to Japan. I knew Richard Armitage and Paul Wolfowitz understood the region better and stood for democracy and liberty more than the Clinton/Gore/Albright crowd, and that they would likely end up with positions somewhere in a Bush administration. Amongst other reasons, I voted for Bush the second time because he has not let me down in this area of the world nor in Iraq. I have not felt I have been lied to. Quite the contrary. I have felt the obvious truth has finally yielded action. Since 9/11 I have been, since I do live abroad, greatly amused by the whole world now hates us anti-Bush hard left crowd. Unlike you, they obviously don't make a point of asking the world what it is really thinking. The answer is much more complicated, and surprising, than what the media and academics profess/create. I only burden you with all this to make the point that if I had not gone to live abroad, learn a few foreign languages, etc, etc..., I have no doubt I would be on the streets of America parroting the views of my college professors and the liberal media (yes it is very liberal) and feeling righteous as I called Bush clever epithets. And I'd be wrong. Ignorant. All this to say I am not sure I won't, or I haven't already, become conservative, but I hope you don't. They need you over there on that side of the road questioning. With your help I hope the Democratics sometime in the future wake up and field candidates I could vote for. Though my parents, who voted for Bush this year, and seem ten years younger with a new lease on life, vow they will never again vote for a Democrat. That is how much the Democrats and especially the hard left in America have angered them over the past three years. One of the tipping points for them, while on the subject of civility, was Senator Wellstone's funeral, but the hard left's lying about and politicizing of Iraq and the war on terror sealed the deal. As far as your site goes TmjUtah and Mona have said it all, I believe. Best wishes.

 
At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff,
I am very happy that you and your blog are enjoying so much sucess. Your post about the Iraqi elections was very touching and I found myself experiencing the same emotions. I am similarly torn. However, I am really annoyed that this is supposed to be irrefutable evidence that Bush was right all along and we liberals have gotten the comuppance that we have long deserved. Saying that it doesn't matter how you arrived at result as long as it is good sounds an awful lot like, "The ends justify the means." Keep in mind that this saying is brought to us by the same people that coined the phrase, "Might makes Right."

The other thing that annoys me is that many of the comments on your blog are saying, "Bush didn't lie." Maybe he didn't. But, he is certainly guilty of this: coming to conclusion and then searching for evidence to support his conclusion regardless of how reliable it is. Compare Coling Powell's speech to the UN sometime to Adalai Stevens's during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Bush is certainly deceptive. Anyone who won't answer a question unless it's scripted (see one of his "press conferences") or refuse to appear before congress under oath or refuse to answer GAO Subpoenas is probably hiding something. Just take a look at the terror alerts system. Suddenly everything is fine. Bush has a 2nd term, we're safe. When then there was a possiblity of a Demcrat president that terror alert system orange a yellow every day. Coincidence? Tawdy political deception? Dick Cheney said on multiple occasions that the people of Iraq will greet us as liberators with flowers in the streets. This hasn't exactly happened. So, do you think Cheney was being deceptive or naive? Some people would say he was just hoping for the best. But, he never said I hope this or I believe that. He said, "The people of Iraq will greet us as liberators with flowers in the streets." Not when they have elections a year from now. But, the day that we invade.

FattMatt

 
At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just post as you see it, try and be honest with yourself, and remember who the actual enemy is. You will do fine. Kudos on the Iraqi election post.

I was left-leaning in my political ways pre-9/11; maybe making it to the polls to vote every four years or so (or when driven to frothing-rejection mode at some insane-to-me conservative referendum here in very-red Oklahoma). But in the following years since 9/11 I became active in politics, well active for me that is, by voting every time I could and trying to follow the actions of the political people, blog-reading and such. I saw the bias in Fox but then that led me catch the bias in other news organizations; bias that my liberal friends could not (would not?) admit existed (although they quickly agreed Fox was biased). Even post-CBS memogate. I supported the protesters right to march yet something made me feel uncomfortable about the hyperbole of some—like the classic Bush is Hitler. Hitler? Have these people no understanding of what Nazi horror really was? What happened to we will never forget?

I could go on but to cut this short I found to my horror (and the horror of my liberal friends) I began to side with the righties on what I call the practical issues (the budget, taxes, tactics for the war on ‘terror’) and felt that those issues were currently more important than my worries about abortion rights or other more traditionally social issues. The Left now seems to me to be convulsing away from me, almost mocking my deep worries about Islamic fascism as being silly. They dismiss my beliefs that if this new Evil wins all of my (and their) liberal beliefs will become simply meaningless. They scream that Bush “lied” as if this is the most important issue and we simply fix this fault (if even true) all will be wonderful again. Ugh. That is no plan to fight this war. How can I put how I view it? Maybe this way: One can not even discuss abortion rights if women become actual property (and spare me the woes of America’s women, yes there are problems but nothing—nothing—like what the Bin Laden’s would impose upon us). So I now stand with those that I never thought I would; odd were one finds oneself.

Now I call myself a “Fellow Traveler” with the current Republicans. I think that they have the best approach to the new war we are in today. Sorry but I do. Perhaps sometime the Left will offer something besides automatic nay-saying of anything Bush supported but I am not seeing it yet (something better than Kerry’s vague, mysterious 4-point Iraqi plans). So I am a fellow traveler with the “Nazis” because all my beliefs, my lefty social views are for naught if this new evil is not soundly and completely defeated. When the war is over, I will no doubt turn left again but for now those high-sounding ideas of freedom, liberty, and those glorious pictures of Iraqis voting are the ideals and actions I will support. Yes, and I will stay opposed to this evil even as I nervously watch the Right make mistakes that leave permanent sickening stains upon my soul (torture, sigh, torture for god’s sake). The Left has left me no choice, damn them.

If that makes me a Nazi then so be it.

 
At 4:52 PM, Blogger jaed said...

Couple of things:

- A lot of people will start calling you a "conservative" if you're not opposed to the liberation of Iraq, regardless of your positions on abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, Social Security reform, or any and all issues. So don't let it flip you out when it happens. Your positions are your positions, regardless of how people try to label you.

- You've had a change of heart on one issue that you were told was only espoused by evil conservatives. You may find yourself becoming more open to listening to their arguments on other issues as a result. You may even change your mind on some issues where there's a conservative/liberal split, finding that there are new arguments you haven't considered. (Or maybe not... but I'm betting you'll listen more carefully to the arguments on the other side, and become better informed about how a sane and good person could hold these positions, even if they don't change your mind.) This is OK. A broad variety of input and political argument is good for anyone.

- If you feel like posting fecal humor, post fecal humor! It's your blog, you can post what you like, and if someone doesn't like it they can skip the post.

- There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm thrilled that we might be doing it together.That's exactly what all us gleeful neocons are rubbing our hands together and cackling about. ;-) Welcome aboard.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger Eric said...

FattMatt,

From what I've heard, many Iraqis have cheered American troops, but obviously not all Iraqis, and not all American troops experienced these cheers. We're not talking about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, after all. It depends on the region and the circumstances. I imagine Americans surving in the Kurdish region, especially, have come away with good experiences.

I hope a lesson that you, Jim and other 'ABB' liberals learn is that the historic events we've been watching/living since 9/11 aren't about George W Bush and his administration. At least, they're no more about Bush than the Civil War was about Lincoln, WW1 about Wilson, WW2 about Roosevelt/Truman, Korean War about Truman/Eisenhower, etc.. To paraphrase Spiderman2, there are bigger things happening here. To interpret current events, the path to these events, and the reasons for our present-day actions, almost exclusively through the dislike of one man, and the men and women who serve at his pleasure, seems awesomely self-absorbed and very provincial.

Do I recommend you become a so-called neo-con or conservative? No, I don't. In fact, many arguments opposing OIF are actually sourced from traditional conservatives. I recommend you access the so-called 'liberal hawks', many of whom are highly critical of Bush and disagree with him on many issues, but understand the 'why we fight' and 'why we stay' in OIF and in the larger War on Terror. Most people who support our mission in Iraq understand that victory is not guaranteed.

Fairly short magazine article and good reads:
THOMAS BARNETT: Mr. President, Here's How To Make Sense Of Our Iraq StrategyTOM JUNOD: The Case for George W. Bush ie, what if he's right?Of note, both Tom Junod and Thomas Barnett are true-blue liberals.

 
At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff:

I stumbled upon your blogsite just half an hour ago. Perhaps the best way for me to illustrate my high opinion of what I've found is to list several mutually contradictory facts:

1. I am a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

2. Ann Coulter's stuff simply delights me-- that is, when her dagger's been freshly sharpened.

3. But, cozy though it is to inhabit the Right and inveigh lustily against Lefty Moonbats, it is an even greater delight to find intelligent discussion between the two parties. PLEASE KEEP THIS BLOGSITE GOING.

On your posts that I've read, I find some points to disagree with, a few to agree with, and quite a number to think about. But I must absolutely take exception to one statement you make:

You assert that Left and Right often play tennis using turds for tennis balls. Wrong-- can't be done. The ball would simply squash through the strings.

In future, please be more careful with your facts.

--RightwingNutcase

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Tom Grey said...

It might be good to have a selection of your "best" stuff. (I call them Legends in my own mind).


And please, consider defining, in advance, what "success" of one or another policy looks like.

(Again, you'd like Michael Totten, and other Liberal Hawks.)

 
At 7:46 PM, Blogger Charles said...

Jeff,

I'm picking up what you're putting down ... you haven't gone out and joined the freemasons or the NRA ... I get that.

The reason I linked your post to my blog was because it was a marvel -- and as I pointed out, I thought what you did (going and talking to the expat voters) was far more important than what you said about it. What you said about it only demonstrated that you are a human being after all under all that liberal makeup ;-)

My comment about "first steps into a larger world" was a very poor choice of words on my part, and -- I think -- came across as making me look like an arrogant jerk. I didn't mean it that way ... I wasn't saying that I thought you were on your way to becoming a Bush-supporter, only that you were stepping outside your comfort zone and seeking to find the truth in an objective way. I thought that was remarkable, and I believe that I, myself, don't do this nearly often enough.

In any case, thanks for your comments, and I apologize about the way I ended that post.

-Duckwriter ( http://duckwriter.tyepad.com )

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger darwin said...

Thinking for yourself doesn't mean you joined a particular group.Sure it does.. you've joined the group of people who think for themselves.

Unfortunately from my experience out here in ultra-liberal San Francisco, this more often than not means being mistaken for a conservative when you're really rather liberal. I suppose if I lived in Kansas I would be mistaken for a flaming liberal. Nobody likes people who think for themselves.. ;)

Thanks for the update on life after an Instalanche.. I'll be adding yr site to my RSS reader.

=darwin

 

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