It’s fairly obvious, but for those of you who aren’t aware, my father and I are completely opposite when it comes to personal politics. We debate all the time on this blog, but it’s all in good humor and I think it provides a nice intellectual outlet for both of us. As is expected then, the Maureen Dowd quote in my previous post raised his eyebrows, and my response started to get long, so I thought I’d make it into a post.
Three points that I will bring together in the end in a witty and insightful way (I hope):
1. I hate rhetoric. I value open discussion, open-mindedness and hearty dialogue. I love when people can consider all sides of an argument, think through the issues and then come to a conclusion. I like to listen and be listened to, and I don’t respect those who are unable to listen to both sides without becoming judgmental and haughty. Nor do I respect those who speak in grand, vague, expansive terminology without the balance of facts, truth and real-life experiences.
2. I find people who will never admit to being wrong generally disagreeable and untrustworthy. Part of being a restaurant manager is the uncomfortable task of confronting people when they have screwed up. I can instantly respect someone who owns up to their mistakes, but rarely trust someone who I know to be lying. Yesterday I got pulled over for speeding on my way to the gym. When the cop came and asked me about it I basically said, “Yeah, I know I was speeding.” He responded, “You’re the first honest person I’ve talked to today, everybody else has got an excuse,” and then he let me go.
3. I think it’s totally natural for people to change their mind about important issues. I have personally changed my mind about a myriad of issues during the past five years. I sleep well at night knowing even if I am wrong about some things, I am considering them, and I believe myself to be a personally honest person. Does that make me dishonorable? Morally unsound? As was said during the Bush-Kerry fight of 2004, “wishy-washy”? Frankly, I don’t care, because I know that I am being honest with myself, and honesty is everything to me. I think my values have grown and developed over the past few years. I am a better friend, a more accepting person, slower to judge. I am terribly imperfect, but so are we all. We are all human for God’s sake, and the fundamentalist rhetoric of some of our nation’s leaders just disgusts me.
A few weeks ago I heard the president speaking about the Middle East conflict and general nation-building. His rhetoric was so unmistakably religious it sickened me. He spoke of bringing light into the dark corners of the world as if the U.S. was the literal messiah. Strayed as I am from religious ties, I still don’t want to hear my politicians claiming God’s will or favor on what seem like senseless, misguided attacks on a country that, albeit had a ruthless dictator, but was certainly no worse than the governments of North Korea, Iran, our “ally” Saudi Arabia and several African countries. Yet we aren’t attacking their infrastructures, we aren’t attempting to bring peace and light and joy and the American way to North Korea, and any well-read person knows that their citizens are far more repressed than the citizens of Iraq have ever been. I am not advocating more conflict, I am just trying to make the point that based on Bush’s rhetoric, we ought to be invading a lot more countries.
So I have a lot of suspicion about Bush in general. His ties to big oil, his alliance with Dick Cheney, former board member for Halliburton (currently making millions upon millions in Iraq), his lack of transparency, the planned audiences to answer questions “the right way” at townhall meetings, his use of religious rhetoric, they all rub me the wrong way. I’m not saying other politicians don’t rub me the same wrong way, they do, but the fact is Bush is the president. He should be held to the highest level of scrutiny of any person in this country. He should be without blame, he should be honest, he should be open. There are no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq could be sliding into civil war, we have lost thousands of American soldiers and directly and indirectly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and our president still speaks as if this is a noble and justified war.
I’m afraid if I knew Bush in person, I would not stand by him. I would not be friends or want anything to do with a person so mired in controversy over potential personal gain for himself and his friends regarding this war. It would be one thing if he had an explanation, but unfortunately, all the American people are allowed to hear from this administration is the rhetoric.