Andy Stone: They’re not always wrong. Right?
They’re not always stupid.
They’re not always evil.
And they’re not always wrong.
This is true, no matter who you are and, more important, no matter who “they” are.
I’m not talking about the idea that we all have a spark of the divine within us and Saddam Hussein was probably nice to his puppy back when he was six years old. In fact, I doubt that he was. He probably tortured his puppy.
What I’m talking about is the fact that we all tend to let our views of the world fall into convenient ruts. We decide somewhere along the line how we feel about someone and then we know, without bothering to think about it, how we feel about everything that person says ” and how we feel about anyone who happens to
agree with that person. And anyone who agrees with that person … and on and on.
When someone new comes on the scene, with some new ideas, we’re not too likely to grapple with the ideas themselves. Instead, we tend to poke around and see if someone else has already given an opinion. “Oh,” we say to ourselves, “the Republicans like him” or, depending on our personal political stripe, “the Liberals like him” … in either case, the bottom line is “He must be wrong.” Or, “He must be right.”
It’s easier than actually thinking, isn’t it?
It happens in our own little community.
Someone speaks up on an issue and we think, “Let’s see … he was in favor of the train … so he must be wrong about the S-curves.”
And then we know how we feel about him and his ideas. And anyone who agrees with him about anything. Now and on into the future.
It’s so much easier.
It happens out into the larger world, of course.
Many liberals take great bitter pleasure in scorning Rumsfeld (and Cheney and Bush) for ignoring the “professionals” in the CIA when they were evaluating intelligence reports from Iraq.
If only they’d listened to the CIA, they wouldn’t have gone on about uranium from Niger and they wouldn’t have spoken with such arrogant certainty about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. If only they’d listened.
In most instances, of course, these same liberals cheerfully loathe the CIA. The CIA has been a force for repression throughout the world. The CIA missed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The CIA is a collection of abhorrent lunkheads who can’t find their way to the bathroom in the dark!
Ah, but this time around, the CIA is on the opposite side of the issue from Rumsfeld (and Cheney and Bush). So, suddenly, the CIA deserves our respect.
And yet, not so long ago, Donald Rumsfeld was taking on the uniformed military on the issue of the Crusader artillery system. If you remember, that was a $9 billion weapons program, developing a massive artillery piece that might weigh as much as 97 tons. It seemed like exactly the wrong weapon for the threats we are now facing. It was too heavy, too slow ” but the uniformed brass really wanted it.
So Rumsfeld was right.
But … but … he’s always wrong.
In Iraq, Rumsfeld kept wanting to go lighter, faster ” but the uniformed brass disagreed.
And he was … they were … I’m getting a headache.
It’s so much easier when you stick to your rut.
And yet …
It seemed as if, way back at the end of 1999, some members of the Clinton administration were finally becoming firmly fixated on the dangers of terrorism and, most particularly, Osama bin Laden.
But the Bush administration was firmly convinced that Clinton ” and everyone and everything connected to Clinton ” was wrong, wrong, wrong. So, when they took office, they worried less about bin Laden and more about other things … until suddenly it was September 11.
This isn’t to say that Bush should have known what was coming. But perhaps he could have known what was coming, if he had listened to the Democrats who had preceded him in the White House.
Except that he forgot that they were not always stupid, not always evil and not always wrong.
[Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.