Writing for the public has always been a challenging task. However, President Bush’s declaration that “you are with us or against us” has intensified readers’ tendency to see columnists in the same way. Awareness is fading that a writer could be an independent thinker not in either camp.
A number of writers have made a powerful case that the invasion of Iraq was not in the long term interests of the U.S. or Israel. Yet, many conservatives dismiss this cogent argument as aid and comfort for terrorists. Neoconservatives damn their critics as “anti-Semites.”
Similarly, criticism of Bush’s policies labels the writer as a Democrat, and defense of John Kerry’s medals means the writer is a Viet Cong sympathizer and Bush-hater.
A writer who criticizes Bush is not necessarily an advocate for John Kerry. I wish Kerry would show the same courage and guts in criticizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the attack on our civil liberties as he showed in criticizing the Vietnam War and turning his swift boats into the enemy fire and chasing down the attackers. Nevertheless, the only way Bush can be held accountable for Iraq is to be voted out of office.
However unappealing the alternative candidate, if the electorate fails to hold Bush accountable for invading Iraq on false pretenses and multiplying the recruits to al-Qaeda, American democracy will have failed.
This will be understood everywhere in the world, and American power will fail as well.