Happy July 4th to all of my friends and relatives back in the US. Pam and I tuned in this morning to the news and political talk shows, expecting a pretty uneventful roundup of pre-Fireworks chatter, and were surprised to see some newsworthy items. One was a final reaction by pundits to the Republican National Committee’s head, Michael Steele. For the past couple of years, Steele has been ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ to Liberals like myself, and it was always hysterical when he came out with one of his either undignified or ridiculous statements. The latest one, however, seemed to go over the line. At a fundraiser in Noank, Connecticut, someone caught Steele in the following video that became one of those gaffes heard round the world:
“The [General] McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. I think it’s a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders has with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan. Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. It was one of those areas of the total board of foreign policy [that was at least?] that we would be in the background sort of shaping the changes that were necessary in Afghanistan as opposed to directly engaging troops. But it was the President who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? Alright, because everyone who has tried over a thousand years of history has failed, and there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan…”
Now I won’t go too much into how wrong that is on so many levels (not the least of which is that it’s historically inaccurate — there was no ‘choice’ involved and the US, led by George W. Bush, attacked Afghanistan after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001), but the condemnation from Democrats and Republicans has been pretty severe, with the exception of the always-surprising Ron Paul, who said that Steele, “has it right and Republicans should stick by him.”
At any rate, we did a double-take when we heard this from Cynthia Tucker, the Pulitzer prize winning reporter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Wow! It’s not often you hear someone deliver as blistering a critique as that. In fact, I dare say if anyone else had said what she said, (particularly someone who wasn’t also black) they might have been accused of being racist.
It’s pretty clear that Steele is toast. As I hinted earlier, that’s a shame for Democrats (Al Hunt a few moments before this clip suggested that Steele was actually a Democratic Mole). However, he (and Ms. Tucker) did provide some early fireworks for this July 4 morning.
July 5 is also a big date, at least for Pam and me. On this date, 5 years ago, we left Cambridge, MA and began our journey to Canada. While I’m always a little pensive on the 4th, remembering those long afternoons on the bank of the Charles river getting ready for the fireworks and singing patriotic songs, I also remember how excited we were to be starting a new chapter in our lives. These days, I don’t introduce myself as a ‘new Vancouverite’ any more. I now consider the lower Mainland my home, and despite more than a few glances back at the US, we have no plans to return to living there. The July 4 of 2005 will probably be the last one we spent as US residents.