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Willisms

« Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 128. | WILLisms.com | Quotational Therapy: Part 142 -- Hillary Clinton, Panderer, Flip-Flopper. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 473 -- Misremembering Past Opinions.

The Disingenuous Anti-War Movement-

Since late 2003 or so, there has been a concerted effort to re-write the history of the beginning of the Iraq war. The leader of the effort, Howard Dean, as Governor of Vermont, very well may have been against the invasion all along. John Kerry and John Edwards, however, were in the Senate. And they not only voted to go to war, they spoke about Saddam Hussein, his desire for weapons of mass destruction, his perpetration of genocide, and so forth. They were on board.

In the 2004 campaign, however, Johns Kerry and Edwards somehow got away with making the claim that it was all Bush's fault. He misled them. Never mind that-- as Senators-- they had access to intelligence reports detailing the Iraqi threat. Never mind that the most prominent Democrats in America believed Saddam Hussein was a menace who intended to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. Never mind that WMD were only the secondary part of the seven-part case for war. Never mind any of that.

Voters saw through the Kerry Edwards claims in 2004. The 2004 election , however, bought Bush about a year to fix Iraq. By late 2005, when American casualties continued and chaos seemed indefinite, the anti-war movement started to go much more mainstream.

Something else happened heading into the 2006 midterms. More and more people began misremembering their own support for invasion.

Gary C. Jacobson, of the University of California (San Diego), published an article in the Spring of 2007, analyzing what happened in the 2006 elections. Although the article made a slight splash for its hit on Fox News viewers (asserting they were essentially uninformed religious zealots) and Republicans in general, I found this bit of information very interesting (.pdf):

iraqmemories.gif

Misremembering.

Interestingly, 9 percent MORE Republicans in 2006 recalled supporting the war in 2003 than actually did, while 8 percent fewer independents and 25 percent fewer Democrats remembered correctly.

As far as WMD are concerned, this is where a stunning 46 percent of Democrats misremembered.

Now, remember, these data are pre-surge. With some very real progress in Iraq these days, one would have to assume that some of the misremembering would shift back a bit. When there is success, people don't want to be seen as having doubted. See the Republican candidates' debate arguments over who was really more for "the surge" earlier than anyone else for evidence of this.

Back to this data, though. In 2003, I supported the invasion, felt like coalition forces would uncover something at least marginally worthy of the label "WMD" in the first few weeks of the war, and was pretty darn sure that Saddam Hussein was not personally responsible for 9/11.

What bothers me, though, is the rampant misremembering. It's just too convenient. It's far too simple for people to absolve themselves of responsibility by claiming, falsely, that they were against the war all along. Or, maybe they correctly recall being against the war, but they erroneously recall believing Iraq was totally WMD-free. Not only that, but anyone who actually believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was and is some sort of idiot.

I see it all the time in real life, not just on debate stages featuring Democrats.

The history of the Iraq war is still being written. And rewritten. As far as I am concerned, people can misremember all they want to the extent that we win this thing, but if that misremembering leads to a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, just as tangible progress is seemingly being achieved there, it will be shameful and dangerous. And when Iraq becomes a haven for terrorists much like Afghanistan was before 2001, many of those same misrememberers will assuredly further misremember and whine that we didn't finish the job like we should have.

People, you're on record. It's fine to change your mind about the war, but don't act like you didn't flip-flop. Maybe, like John McCain, you can successfully claim that you supported the war but opposed Rumsfeld and the Bush administration's execution of it. Okay, that flows, logically. That lets us win. That doesn't make you so intellectually and emotionally vested in failure.

If, however, the singular goal is a premature evacuation from Iraq for the sake of cleansing your guilty conscience ("oh, dear, how could I have ever supported war"), I might suggest hypnotherapy or pills or something else that doesn't harm the future security and stability of the United States.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stocks Go Down When Congress Meets.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 January 2008 11:43 AM

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