They Blew It

November 13, 2006Posted by Jay Livingston
“Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” It’s not clear who originally said this. JFK used it after the disastrous the Bay of Pigs invasion. I’m surprised this quote hasn’t turned up again now that even the Bush administration is all but admitting that Iraq is pretty much what The Daily Show has been labeling it all along — a mess (“Mess-o-potamia”). Or worse.
The question is no longer how to achieve “victory”— after the election, that word has disappeared quickly from official talk— but which policy will give the least bad results.
Proponents of the war—the neoconservatives who, from in and out of government, pushed hard for the invasion— are starting to sing the chorus of “Don’t Blame Me.” In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, several neo-con biggies who have since left government insist that the invasion was a great idea. The trouble is that those incompetents in the Bush administration, including the president, botched the way that idea was put into action.
Here’s Richard Perle, a member of something called the Defense Policy Board, who pushed long and hard for the invasion: “I'm getting damn tired of being described as an architect of the war. I was in favor of bringing down Saddam. Nobody said, ‘Go design the campaign to do that.’ I had no responsibility for that.”
What about the millions of Americans who have supported the war, who talked about victory, who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004? Will they similarly be able to distance themselves from their earlier enthusiasms and blame everything on the people they elected?
When I was in graduate school I remember hearing about a study on pronouns. The researchers called students at a large university, one of those places where football was very important, and asked them about the game. When the team won, students usually used “we.” When the team lost, the students used “they.” The perfect example came from one student after a disappointing loss: “We were winning up until the fourth quarter; then they blew it.”

No comments: