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As the 2008 presidential race approaches the very serious month of January, the candidates involved just got some more information: a record 68 percent of Americans now oppose the Iraq war and our continued occupation of that country.
This is certainly not good news for Republicans, who - except for Ron Paul - just don?t have the guts to take on the president?s policy. John McCain, who ought to know better, has been utterly shameful in his defense of this Iraq disaster. McCain says that ?the liberal media? isn?t telling the truth about how the ?surge? in Iraq is working.
This is a huge disappointment from a man who previously commanded so much respect from Republicans and Democrats alike for his honest discourse. Remember the ?Straight Talk Express?? Now, it?s become the ?Pro-war talking points express.? Not that his candidacy isn?t finished?.it is. But some other figures show how well the surge is actually ?working.?
2007 has already been the worst year on record for American deaths in Iraq, surpassing 2004. The 68 percent against the war, according to the latest polling, represents more than twice the approval rating that our ?war president? receives. But most Americans long ago gave up on his ability to recognize anything outside his own unique version of reality. He?s just not capable of it.
As the presidential race proceeds next year, we?re likely to see Republicans break from an increasingly unpopular policy. They have to know they can?t go before the public next November defending this disaster. After all, Bush is history after that. He?ll be alone with his ?legacy,? and he?ll deserve it. The nominee will almost certainly have a new agenda.
As for the rest of us who oppose this war, we must do everything we can to stop it. The first thing to do is to resist those who say that an American pullout would destroy our credibility. Excuse me?but, what credibility do we have left?
This president went before the world and stated in the most dramatic terms that an invasion of Iraq was absolutely necessary because of?.what? Does everybody remember? Ah, yes. ?The threat?.? from ?weapons of mass destruction.? He was wrong, and the United States, with our subsequent invasion and nearly five-year long occupation, has lost all its credibility before the rest of the world.
We must also resist the idea that getting out of Iraq would be ?irresponsible,? when the greatest irresponsibility - invading in the first place - has already been committed. The worst irresponsibility now would be to stay for year after year, with no end in sight. (And, by the way, if you haven?t seen the documentary with that title - ?No End in Sight? - you should.)
So, the race for president in 2008 must be accompanied by even more energy invested into the fight to stop this unnecessary and outrageous war. None of us should miss any more opportunities to go to our nation?s capital and protest. I?ve been to three such events, but I missed the last one in September. I won?t miss any more.
I have also been remiss in not expressing my thanks and congratulations to a few brave souls who had the courage several weeks ago to take their anti-war protests to the streets of Bedford itself. I saw the pictures in the Bulletin, and I thank you for your courage.
Those of us who are against this war are clearly in the majority, and what?s more, we?re right. We?ll force an end to this nonsense sooner or later.
Rick Howell, a Bedford native, lives in Roanoke, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.