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Red state ruminations

These are the "red" states -- sprawling landscapes of strip malls and chain restaurants, where it's all but impossible to find an authentic, 24-hour Senegalese bistro, much less one with a decent organic egg-white omelet. Their denizens can be maddeningly provincial, preferring bowling to Pilates, and laughably believing that Folger's crystals are an acceptable substitute for a Kona-Sumatra blend iced decaf vanilla soy latte. And... (get this!) many of them actually go to church.

I spent most of my life in red states, until I moved to New York City in 2000. These days, needless to say, I am spending this very divisive and bitter electoral season surrounded by big-city liberals. The weekend I just spent in Omaha, however, was the perfect antidote. With the election three weeks away, all my conversations with the locals inevitably turned to politics, and for a change, I wasn't in the minority as a Bush supporter. And on no subject did I find myself more in agreement with them than on the War.

Although red-staters may not be viewed as sophisticates East of the Hudson, they truly comprehend the nature of the conflict in which we are now engaged. They heard Bush's speech on September 20, 2001, and they understood immediately what was at stake, and what was being asked of them. They understood that this war was a much broader undertaking than simply corralling a few specific individuals who were directly tied to 9/11 and arresting them. They understood this is a war between civilization and anti-civilization, which could easily endure for a generation or longer. Moreover, they knew they would, as always, shoulder a disproportionate burden in terms of the sacrifices of their young men and women in the armed forces.

And yet, they signed on. Their resolution is as unshakable today as it was three years ago. They give me hope, and encouragement. They do not waver. They do not falter. And why? Let's face it, these people are not afraid of Omaha being attacked. They're afraid of New York being hit again. They recognize that an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. Paradoxically, shamefully, the resolve of many of us here at Ground Zero began to dissipate virtually as soon as the smoke began to clear.

I have become a curious sort of hybrid over the past few years. I'm not sure I truly belong in Omaha any more than I belong in New York City. And I confess, that I too, at times, find some of the cramped world-views of red state America too confining.

But at times like these, I thank God for the red states. They are truly the solid backbone of our country, and we need them now more than ever.


Look. It is all well and fine to be out there with the red staters. Like you, I came to this area as an adult. I have lived in very conservative areas, travelled in every state, so pardon me if I just don't buy the crap about the shame of New Yorkers not having the "resolve" of those in Nebraska. Some of us just see how to win the war on terrorism differently and, because of that, look to different solutions (or a different combination thereof.) My resolve didn't dissipate when the smoke cleared at Ground Zero. If anything, it is stronger now and just because I have clear disagreements with your approach does not mean that I have "wavered."

Yes, it isn't just Osama and it isn't just al Qaeda and yes it could go on for a good long time, but that still doesn't mean occupying Iraq was an effective measure in the war on terrorism.

There are many good Americans in Nebraska, but there also are good Americans walking the streets of Manhattan. In fact, there are good Americans all over. The idea that somehow Nebraskans "get it" when sadly, paradoxically New Yorkers don't is just crap, in my view. It creates the impression that there are superior and lesser Americans, people who care about this country and people who don't. While there are plenty of people who care as much about this country as I do, there is no one who cares more. So say they have a different perspective, but they sure as hell don't care more.

Thank God for the Red AND the blue states, that's what I say, because TOGETHER we'll figure this out.

(Just because there are MORE Nebraskans who agree with YOU does not mean they care MORE than New Yorkers regarding whether New York is attacked. If that was the case, why then are the politicians from red states NOT fighting to allocate homeland security money based on threat level as opposed to other more political considerations.)

P.E., I don't think that's a fair assessment of the post. I don't think the author's claiming Red states are "better" than Blue states. Rather, I infer that he, like you, views the two as complimentary halfs of our country, each with relative strengths and drawbacks, and feels some torn loyalties himself. He does however imply that if you have to go to war it may be more reassuring to have the Reds at your back than the Blues. I would have to agree.

Well, I personally disagree strongly with the sentence "Paradoxically, shamefully, the resolve of many of us here at Ground Zero began to dissipate virtually as soon as the smoke began to clear." Frankly, I think confusing questioning the Iraq War with a lack of resolve in the war against terrorism is just plain wrong. Disagree all you want, but do not question my love of country, love of New York, or my memory of what happened in 2001.

As far as the "backbone" of this country goes, I did a quick check of icasualties.org and discovered about 500 of those who have died have come from states won by Gore and little more than 500 from states won by Bush. While certainly young men and women from Fayettville and Omaha have given their lives, there also have been lives given by young men and women from Buffalo, Flint, Philadelphia, and Boston.

So I aint buying they have the resolve argument and I aint buying the backbone portion either. It's an insult and a slight and I am not standing for it. (Besides that, it's wrong.)

John, you're too polite. PE,for someone who thinks the opinions of this site are "crap" I notice you sure do spend a lot of time here. There are blogs that cater to every conceivable political type imaginable. Perhaps you'd be happier at the Daily Kos.

Thanks guys, but PE is a friend of mine, and he's welcome to post here, as is anyone, regardless of politics, so long as they're respectful and not abusive. But please, people, no Cialis ads, please.

PE, I didn't mean to offend. I was living in New York City during 9/11, and I was proud as could be of the city's response to the events of that day. It was, indeed, a turning point for me. It was the first time that I identified myself as a "New Yorker," and I was proud to do so.

Regarding the "sacrifice" angle, I was referring to the responses of red-state Americans in the aftermath of 9/11. The American southeast is disproportionately represented in the American armed forces, but I do not, in any way, mean to diminish the sacrifices made by the 10th Mountain Division, and if it came across that way, it was an error on my part.

I know perfectly well that there are good, solid, rock-ribbed Americans in New York. I see them every day. Likewise, there are spineless wusses in Omaha. We all know that, PE. And I understand that generalizations can get us into trouble.

Nevertheless, I fear there is a real possibility that, as a nation, we may "go wobbly" before this fight is over. And should that happen, generalization though it may be, it will not be because of Red America.

Thanks, Barry. I personally have strong disagreements regarding the wisdom of the Iraq War as a means of fighting terrorism. Now that we are there, we have to see it through, but I don't see it as a wise and effective action in that fight. With all respect to Guilliani, whom I see as a strong mayor for whom I crossed over to vote for as a Democrat, I have heard speak many times in regards to worldwide terrorism and I don't agree with his thinking either in regards to the Middle East.

The problem with words like "weak", "resolve" and "wobbly" is that they are often used to mock those who disagree and, as such, are used to shut down debate. Furthermore, the concept of red state residents being the backbone of America is another attempt to diminish those in other states. I know many of my red state friends who expressed the belief that I left America when I moved to New York. I got p***** off in response to that as well. I don't look down on the red states, but damn it if I am going to stand for another kind of snobbery directed towards the blue states. In regards to Guilliani, I made a similar stand with my fellow liberals when I stood up for Guilliani over Dinkins because he would be more effective, in my view, and that decision had nothing to do with race. There are all kinds of snobberies about that distract from, rather than clarify, the important matters before us.

I understand where you are coming from on your strong objections, PE. As usual, you stated your position very well.

Like you, I was not for the war in Iraq. I felt that Hussein did indeed have WMD but always felt he was too cowardly to ever employ them against us. His whole political life was spent securing his position as dictator.

I cannot speak for Barry but I believe the point he was trying to make was that the Democrats peeled away from Bush faster after 9/11 than any similar time of crisis our previous chief executives faced.

Bush's highest rating of performance never got past the mid 70s. Now, compare that with Bush Sr and his 91% rating after Desert Storm. Although there were no comparable rating polls back in the days of Kennedy, FDR and Wilson, I am sure you'll agree that there personal popularity was significantly higher than the mid-70%s.

In short, a great many people who supported Bush after 9/11 did so uneasily - NOT because of their patriotism or lack of same, but rather because they really despised George Bush.

Despite what many GOP spinmeisters would have us believe, George Bush is not America but he is the president. In truth, Bush's popularity had fallen rather significantly before we ever went to war in Iraq.

I would have hoped that some would have tried to overcome their distaste for him a little longer than they did.

The fact that they could not speaks volumes as to the polarization that continues apace among us to this very day.

Barry, if I misconstrued your intent, I apologize.

Bush received 90% job approval ratings in 2001. Two tables that show Bush's job approval are on http://www.pollingreport.com/BushJob.htm.

He received 70% job approval ratings in 2003, but the buildup to the first Iraq War sparked far less controversy around the world than the buildup to Iraq War II. Still, prior to Bush's push for war, his approval rating ranged from 70-77% in the summer of 2002. That's against 16%-20% disapproval so certainly he must have been appealing to some Democrats. It was in the push for the Iraq War that his disapproval numbers started to rise and there I think that Americans have a right to disapprove if they question the need for war.

Also, Bush 41 allowed the Senate vote to authorize the war to take place in early 1991 and not the fall of 1990. Given that both Iraq Wars followed similar buildup to invasion time frames, it is relevant to point out that Bush 43, unlike his father, pushed for a vote authorizing the war on the eve of a congressional election. Pressure was put to bear on senators like Paul Wellstone, who had to defend his vote right before his going before the voters, something that he did not have to do in 1991. So I believe that Bush 43 must take some responsibility for the polarization that followed.


I apologize for my delayed response. Your comments warranted an immediate one. Unfortunately I have been out on patrol.

You wrote: As far as the "backbone" of this country goes, I did a quick check of icasualties.org and discovered about 500 of those who have died have come from states won by Gore and little more than 500 from states won by Bush. [Posted by PE at October 11, 2004 06:30 PM]

This is disgraceful. You are referring to my fellow soldiers, Americans, as a body count for which state support which candidate in the upcoming Presidential Elections. These men and women were killed in action as American Soldiers, not red or blue state Soldiers.

My Brigade just lost two more soldiers a few days ago. A few weeks ago we lost a soldier from my Battalion. You disgrace the service and sacrifice to our nation by trying to use them as a political statement for red or blue states. They were Americans. Some Republican, Independent, and even Democrat, but they served our Great Nation as Americans.

I respect your views for what they are. You have the right, the Constitutional right, to say what you have to say. These soldiers you refer to in your body count gave their lives protecting and defending Constitution of the United States, which in turn protects your First Amendment Right, Freedom of Speech. You may want to think before you type next time. A solider does not serve based on political party affiliation, but for a love of our Great Nation and his or her fellow soldiers, not for their political preference.

I would be disgracing our Nations fallen soldiers by not replying to your post. With all due respect Sir, you make me cringe. You are another example of the left gone far left. You are more than welcome to say what you have to, but I personally would appreciate it if you leave our fallen soldiers out of your argument, flawed as it may be, with regards to what state support which candidate. We are American Soldiers. We support our Great Nation, politics aside, and are willing to give our lives for it if asked to do so.

These views are not the views of the Department of Defense. I assume fully responsibility for my statements. However, many in my unit and the military share them.

CPT Daniel Beard
US Army, Afghanistan

As for support for our President and Commander in Chief see below.

October 15, 2004
Troops Favor Bush [1]

Big surprise: By a three to one margin, American soldiers and their families favor President Bush [2] over John Kerry.

The survey found that 69 percent had a "favorable" view of Bush, while 29 percent professed a favorable view of Kerry.
This particular survey is, frankly, unscientific. But it no doubt reflects the strong support that President Bush enjoys among soldiers and their families. This survey should be kept in mind next time you see a hand-picked Democratic soldier on television echoing John Kerry's talking points.

And I can't help wondering: how can a hypothetical "President Kerry" lead an armed forces, in which only 29% view him favorably?

Posted by Hindrocket at 11:07 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

[1] Power Line, powerlineblog.com

[2] Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36616-2004Oct15.html

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