TRUST YOUR INSTRUMENTS
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
I'll never look into your eyes again
Is this really the end, (beautiful friend)? Has the Democratic takeover Congress spelled doom for the war? Should we be expecting another embassy airlift on live TV with al-Maliki and his favorite interpreter hanging from the landing wheels as the last Blackhawk leaves the Green Zone? Is Iraq about to jump the shark, or am I about to flip my lid? Um, will this be on the test?
One of the consequences of being in the majority party is that it ultimately entails a measure of seriousness on the holders of the gavel that is rarely expected of the back-benching opposition. Voters expect those holding power to behave accordingly (as we say in the military, "when in charge, be in charge"), rather than succumb to the easy out of continuing to blame everything on the top executive. The Democratic Party has spent the last six years in a death spiral of insanity, seeing as how their most vocal and angry hard left supporters are indeed clinically insane by any definition. You should read the email I get.
Is that you again, Speaker Pelosi?
How dare you mercenaries coast on the government's dime for the privilege of free foreign travel to exotic locales on your very own Air Force transports! What, you can't fly coach like the rest of us?
- Saddam is but a distant memory
- An elected government with a written constitution now stands in his place
- The indigenous security forces are increasingly in the forefront of the fight
- U.S. casualty figures, though unsettling, remain historically low
- Neither al Qaeda nor insurgent forces have ever garnered broad popular support
- The bulk of the daily violence that still plagues the country is concentrated primarily around the capital province
- Middle class Iraqis want nothing more than to raise their families free from fear and care little about the trumped-up "sectarian" divisions
- The majority of the current U.S. mission is primarily defined by routine boredom
Whenever your senses are being overwhelmed by those hyperbolic headlines, cynical soundbites, or calamitous cover-stories...
"...yet another grim milestone for coalition forces in Iraq today as the U.S. death toll climbed significantly after the military reported Sunday that six more troops had died in the deadliest day in two years for American forces since the second to last deadliest day was eclipsed only by the one-day death toll that came after the third highest daily casualty count for U.S. forces since the war began when the deadliest most deadly day of death among U.S. forces who have died while braving death rose to a level never before witnessed since the day before yesterday when three more soldiers died..." (Any of this sounding familiar?)
...you must develop the discipline required to ignore the pack mentality of the journa-list o' grievances peanut gallery...
"...sectarian-fueled insurgent death squads of masked gunmen dressed in military uniforms, still inflamed over the public execution of Saddam Hussein, the humiliation of Abu Ghraib, and the lack of universal health insurance for unemployed ex-Baathists unceremoniously laid off over three years ago by Bush administration officials..."
...ignore your instincts...
"...candidates announced today that had they been President in 2003 they would not have made the decision to go to war despite voting to authorize it in 2002 and reaffirming support in 2005..."
...and trust your instruments.
Altitude: Identify the facts that apply and those that distract.
Airspeed: Pay less heed to media hype and hyperbole.
Heading: Apply common sense backed with grounded perspective.
Attitude: Keep a steady hand and a level head on the horizon.
Hemingway defined courage as grace under pressure, meaning that when the going gets tough, the tough don't argue endlessly about how best to retreat. They leave that to the Spartisan 300 whose only resolve is to continue gorging themselves at the public trough while insisting that war is but an anachronism. Here's to the losers.
"Spartisans! There is where they fight! Here is where we lie!"
Fortunately however, the average voter tends not to be as excitable and expects at least a bare modicum of statesmanship from their elected representatives rather than simply another stepped-up level of brinkmanship. That's what I like to tell myself, anyway.
You see, regardless of how many times Cindy Lou "Who?" Sheehan gets herself arrested for public indoctrination, or what manner of nonsense Keith Olberman's Bush Tourette's Syndrome causes to fly out of his mouth during his nightly Three Minutes Hate on PMSNBC/OMGSTFU... there was no -- rush -- to -- war. The U.S. dithered so long over whether or not to invade that it began to appear as if we were waiting for Uncle Saddam to succumb to secondhand smoke and mirrors.
So we didn't rush into war but we've spent the last few years inadvertently trying like hell to rush out of one, and all the while the Iraqi chariots of (trial by) fire simply haven't been ready to accept the baton. (Remember, we're talking about a people who own Beemers and beepers but lack toilets; their priorities are about as straight as a Hollywood hairdresser.) So up to this point they've been left little choice but to do what anyone (or at least, anyone with a [D] after their name) would do in a similar situation: go soft on terrorism while trying to make nice with the enemy. Because let's face it, it was either that or die. And despite the suicidal tendencies of the jihadists in their midst, native-born Iraqi Muslims are not real big on dying.
At the same time, those of us at home must maintain some measure of historical perspective. Think of it this way: Years ago back when I was a student pilot, one of the earliest things my instructor taught me was that if and when you find yourself caught in zero-visibility conditions, you must rely on your instrument gauges to keep the aircraft at the proper attitude and altitude. Flying by the "seat of your pants" or your "gut" will quickly cause you to become disoriented, inverted, and headed straight for the nearest mountain. Despite everything your physical senses or nervous backseat co-pilots are screaming in your ear...
We're drifting left! We're drifting right!
We're spiraling out of control!
We're pitched nose-up!
We're about to stall!
...you must do your level best to ignore them and believe in only what the instrument panel is telling you. Find the gauges that are providing you useful information, and then trust them. Granted, the Iraq War has been piloted through dead reckoning to this point, with our time hacks between waypoints being anything but on target. But even if navigating via prominent landmarks tends not to be the shortest distance between two points, and is often a long and winding course, it will ultimately get you where you're trying to end up: