Sunday, January 14, 2007

Growing up Republican

The Mahablog » Betrayal

This post put me in mind of my own political childhood. I was 6 years old when Ronald Reagan was first elected. Ford was president when I was born (a few months after Nixon's resignation), but the first president I actually remember was Carter. I was a Reagan supporter mostly because everybody else around me was. I was a 10-year old Reagan supporter in 1984 and a 14-year old Bush supporter in 1988, even though I wouldn't be able to vote until 1992. I still remember the exact moment when I gave up on the Republicans.

Surprising to many, it was on January 16, 1991, when the air war in Iraq began just in time for prime time coverage.

As I sat there watching Bush 41's televised speech, I realized just how much the president was enjoying the moment. It seemed like he could barely hold back a smile. Of course, in comparison to Bush 43's neverending smirk, the 1991 speech seems to overflow with gravitas by comparison. But it seemed clear to me at the time that Bush 41 was leaping up and down on the inside at the opportunity, once and for all, to shed the "wimp label" that had dogged him for so long.

What's wrong with going to war to prove you're a man? I can't honestly say that war is never justified. I can't honestly say that there weren't justifications for Desert Storm. I can, however, say that no one should ever enjoy going to war.

I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where it was often accepted wisdom that we would be among the first to go in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack. I guess I didn't grow up with fear of nuclear annihilation--it was more a grudging acceptance that I would at least get out of all the "Day After"-survival crap. But there was trust--faith, even--that no one really wanted a war. Now I'm not so sure.

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