It was, for the most part, a rather pathetic performance.
I was particularly unimpressed with Presidential candidate/ Senator Obama's questioning which while not confrontative like some of his Democratic colleagues, was significantly underwhelming in its content and direction. The usually slick Obama appeared to be completely out of his depth when not appealing to those abstract concepts of 'hope' and 'change'. Also, he looked nervous and sometimes tongue-tied as he sought to phrase each question in the most politically correct manner. In short, he had absolutely nothing of substance or originality to contribute to the discussion.
All in all, the entire production (except for the information imparted by the General and Ambassador) amounted to a a waste of my time. It was particularly annoying to watch and listen to the antics of the lunatic Code Pink clowns, who have come to symbolize the lack of seriousness with which the left takes national security issues.
Clearly, I have to stop doing things like this for the sake of my own mental health.
Nevertheless, it all reminded me of an article I read a few months ago from Strategy Page where a list of The 10 Myths of the Iraq War has been compiled. They are discussed in detail at the link, but are:
1-No Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).
2-The 2003 Invasion was Illegal.
3-Sanctions were working.
4-Overthrowing Saddam Only Helped Iran.
5-The Invasion Was a Failure.
6-The Invasion Helped Al Qaeda.
7-Iraq Is In A State of Civil War.
8-Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam.
9-The Iraq War Caused Islamic Terrorism to Increase in Europe.
10- The War in Iraq is Lost.
Until the Iraqi government decided to finally deal with the issue of Moqtada Al Sadr and his militia (and indirectly with the reality of Iranian interference), the Iraq story had basically dropped off the radar of both the MSM and the Democrats.
Because the Surge was working, both realized Iraq had become an issue that could not possibly benefit them and their strategic goal of reclaiming the White House. Hence, the silence was rather deafening as they retreated from their original talking points about the war being lost and were mostly confined to trying to tie the cost of the war into their economic doom and gloom package.
Then along comes Basra and Sadr, and these loyal American 'patriots' nearly wet their pants at the possibility that they could use this violent confrontation to justify their desire to surrender and confirm that the whole enterprise is a HOPELESS QUAGMIRE. For a party that is betting everything on HOPE and CHANGE, their hopelessness about the possibility of defeating Al Qaeda and their lack of interest in the CHANGE in the strategic map of the Middle East is somewhat amazing.
The Democrats and the left live (and die) by polls. Popularity means everything to them. Other people's opinions are the foundation of all their "principled" stands on issues, and you can always count on them to be a weathervane showing which direction the winds of ego gratification blow.
It's really too bad for them that external reality is not decided by a poll; nor is it decided by feelings, or pandering to feelings. Their self-induced blindness and utter refusal to acknowledge the realities of Islamic fanaticism and the war on terror in general; as well as the realities of the specific Iraqi theater of that war is truly astonishing.
Wretchard, in a post titled "People Listening Without Hearing" notes:
Corn seems to think that the proper role of the Democratic Congressmen was to discredit or attack the Surge. I would have thought their first duty was to listen to Petraeus and think about America's strategic choices in the region. But then it's 2008 and we all know what that year signifies.
Yes, we all know what that year signifies. And you don't have to be a psychiatrist to understand the fundamental priority that motivates a narcissist.
The narcissistically driven denial of reality endures that they will never willingly or consciously reassess their socialist/leftist/PC ideology, or even question it.
Such reflection is far too threatening.
Anna Freud once wrote that the ego of a child in denial "refuses to become aware of some disagreeable reality.... It turns its back on it, and in imagination reverses the unwelcome facts."
The essence of psychologica denial is a refusal to look at, or acknowledge, reality.
Fortunately, reality exists outside of one's head and is objective and verifiable. It is not altered by whim, desire, lies or myth. This is not to say that people might not believe ideas that do not conform to reality--in fact, they do so all the time. Just like Anna's description of the child's ego, the ego of an otherwise normal adult may also resort to childish, immature and primitive mechanisms when it feels threatened.
You would think it would be a simple matter to be "in touch" with reality. But it isn't. It requires a great deal of cognitive effort--i.e., thinking--and often that effort must assert itself over powerful emotions that draw the person away from the real world to a place more comfortable and unchallenging to their inner reality.
So, how does a rational person determine what is true and what is delusion? How do you decide if something is a myth or is real?
In the case of the Strategy Page list above, people of the left will assert that it is those of us who don't subscribe to those assertions who are in living in the land of psychological denial. As I already mentioned (and it can't be repeated too often these days) reality objectively exists outside of any one person's or group's beliefs.
Psychological denial and the avoidance of an unpleasant reality are certainly not confined to one side of the political spectrum or the other. But what I find endlessly fascinating is how the political left has created and fully integrated specific ideological tools that facilitate ongoing psychological denial.
It reminds me of all the paranoid patients I have observed over the years, who effortlessly are able to dismiss or explain away those facts that don't fit in with their carefully constructed conspiracy theories. If you get too assertive in pointing out those uncomfortable facts, you find yourself in no time fully integrated into the theory. For the paranoid, the case is closed and the argument is finished.
The political left has been utilizing the same psychological strategies inherent in the paranoid style since the end of the cold war and the 20th century. The rise of politically correct speech and the dogma of multiculturalism; the insistence on cultural diversity while enforcing a profound homogeneity of ideas and lack of intellectual diversity in academia; as well as the distortions and rationalizations that are currently the hallmark of intellectual debate within our institutions of higher learning and politics-- have all combined to dissuade those on the political left from pursuing a course of intellectual honesty and/or emotional insight.
This is what makes it so frustrating to debate or argue with today's typical postmodern leftist. Some are willing to engage in discussion, but you can always count on their complete dismissal of any fact that does not conform to their ideological perspective. No matter how many times you debunk their position (e.g., no matter how many times evidence of Saddam's WMD's are found and documented; that evidence has been either ignored or poo-pooed using a variety of rationalizations--and the goalposts are then changed to ensure the safety of the denial).
When it suits their purposes (i.e., when they are losing the argument), they will resort to the claim that reality and truth are merely subjective constructs anyway, and that any evidence you present is only someone's "opinion" and that their opinions are as good as anyone else's.
Such a position should logically disqualify their position to begin with, but of course, it doesn't.
Generally they use this as their argument of last resort--when they cannot bring any facts or logic to support their position. After a brief escape into the relativism noted above, they will then usually proceed directly to the usual ad hominem attacks. Q.E.D.
The essential problem of the left in acknowledging the truth about Saddam's WMD's or any of the other myths they still propagate about the Iraq war, is that these myths have become inextricably entwined and inseparable from their most sacred ideological beliefs. These are the myths that are the cornerstone of their faith in the evil of George Bush, Republicans and, of course, America itself.
To acknowledge even the slightest possibility that these keystones of their religious political faith are warped would threaten their entire ideology--and thus, their image of themselves. They need to see themselves as caring and compassionate; always standing for peace and brotherhood--and oh, and by the way, you were aware that they are a reality-based community, weren't you? They need to make sure you understand that at the outset.
And how could you possibly forget for a moment that they are loving, caring, compassionate and committed to truth, social justice and reality? They remind you regularly that's what they heroically stand for and how they think of themselves.
Why just yesterday, Jay Rockefeller dissed the entire Air Force for "not caring" about people because they do the job they do--i.e., protecting us in time of war. Rockefeller made it a rather personal attack on John McCain (and he did apologize later for "misspeaking"), but the clear implication was that he, Jay Rockefeller (and the candidate he endorses obviously) does care about people and wouldn't be caught dead fighting in a war because, you know, people get killed!
People like Rockefeller obsessively and repeatedly make sure you understand how loving and good they are, in contrast to the members of the political right who are always described as "hate-filled" (the right "hate" blacks; "hate" hispanics, "hate" women, "hate" gays, "hate" the poor etc. etc.). Academics of the left are desperate to "prove" that neocons, Republicans and conservatives are all 'warmongerers; and give the compassionate left (whose legacy includes millions dead in regimes like the Soviet Union) a scientific seal of approval (see here, for a discussion about one example of this tendency).
By itself, this rather compulsive behavior on their part should give any thinking person pause, because it is not typically the behavior of people who are entirely comfortable with who they are. Rather, from a psychological perspective, their behavior and the almost desperate need they exhibit to prove both you and to themselves that they ARE more caring, more sensitive, and more reality-based, suggests that they are trying to hide quite the opposite reality from themselves.
As I have written before, at the center of all psychological denial is a hidden agenda. That agenda is usually not completely conscious--meaning that the denier has not thought through the issues surrounding his denial; and may not even be aware of what his motivation is in asserting something is true when it isn't; or false when it isn't.
The hidden agenda or underlying motivation behind the denial is very frequently related to the potential adverse consequences that could ensue if the denial were eliminated and reality acknowledged. And this is where unnacceptable feelings, needs, and thoughts come in. The denier (or part of him) has made an unconscious decision that awareness of certain feelings, needs, or thoughts is more threatening to his sense of self than the act of denial.
Thus, any person genuinely trying to determine which side of an argument conforms to reality and truth, needs to assess the personal, i.e., the psychological, stakes or conflicts of interest (as those stakes are sometimes referred to) for both sides of the argument.
Of course, both sides in this argument have a conflicts of interest because this is politics and both sides want to win. So, it is entirely possible that both sides are deluding themselves and in denial.
In that case, a rational observer would either wash his hands of both sides; or, accept the reality that one side or the other is going to be in power and go with the side that is at least closest to reality.
When it comes to deciding between Democrats and Republicans; the political left or the neocons; I'm going to have to go with the only partially deluded Republicans and the neocons all the way.
They at least have not completely abandoned the real world for the bubble of self-delusion. They have not regularly retreated into moral relativism and the nihilism of postmodern rhetoric to justify their denial and delusion. They have not embraced national defeat and humiliation as a path to power and control over others. They do not constantly whine, scream, and behave like immature children when they don't get their way (at least not a a matter of course). They do not say one thing and then do another, at least not with the frequency and enthusiasm of the Democrats and the left. They at least put forth new ideas and plans to deal with the situation in Iraq and in the real world in general; the Democrats and the left apparently aren't capable of generating an idea or plan and simply want to retreat and capitulate. The Republicans and neocons have a demonstrated capacity to adapt to reality, and then to change tactics to produce a desired outcome (consider the "surge" in Iraq). The Democrats and the left use the same tired old tactics over and over and can't even acknowledge that things in Iraq have improved dramatically.
Nor will they face the impending reality of a nuclear Iran.
For more than 7 years now, America has had to listen to the Democrats' and the left's constant carping about the inadequacies of America; the evils of American power; the ; we have had to withstand their contempt for America's fundamental values; and our military had to bear the brunt of their incoherent rage and careless enabling of the enemy we fight (talk about "not caring" about people--does Code Pink or the other zombies of the left take any responsibility for enabling and encouraging Al Qaeda and Iran to continue to kill Americans whenever they can?).
We have listened to the endless repetition of their mantras and slogans--and their myths; the unrivaled self-righteousness of their superior intellects; and seen firsthand the intensity of the hatred that motivates them.
In all that time there have been very very few able to summon up an iota of insight; or a moment of self-reflection about the consequences of their own rhetoric or behavior.
Don't dare question their patriotism, they scream. But look at their behavior and its consequences.
One of the most serious psychological challenges that any human being must face is to face reality, particularly when the consequences of confronting truth are personally unpleasant and very painful. That is exactly what psychological denial seeks to avoid doing.
For the Democrats and their increasingly histrionic leftist base, denial--not America-- has been their country of residence since September 11, 2001. Generally, it has been a safe and happy place for them to be; because as long as they can hate and vilify George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and all those evil Republicans and Lieberman Democrats out there; and as long as they can pretend that the objects of their hate are the real cause of any problem; then they don't have to deal with the external reality of Islamofascist terror, or face the truth about their own unacknowledged and pathological internal reality. They can continue to cling to the holy, neo fascist socialist faith, newly risen from the ashes of the 20th century; and delude themselves into thinking that they are wonderful, caring, loving and reality-based people.
Let's face it, the myths that fuel the left's denial are designed to make sure that they--not America--come out the winners; and that they never have to say they are sorry for enabling the enemies of America and for helping them to kill their fellow Americans.