A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Friday, May 28, 2004

An Analogy From Dad

Last night I had dinner with my parents. They're good folks and Mom makes a mean roast beef. When I got to their place, though, Dad was on the phone with a troublesome customer. He put in a new bathroom for these people back in February - yes, February - and it has been non-stop nitpicking ever since. "Leo, the tile surface isn't mirror-smooth like it was in the model" and "Leo, there's a 2-inch hairline crack in the caulking" and Goddess only knows what else.

Now, to be fair, there was a problem with their tile; it was a "bad batch" (which means the tile itself was bad, not the construction work) and my Dad ripped out all of it and redid the job. No charge. He's taking a bath on this one (no pun intended), losing about $2,500 when all is said and done, because he's the kind of guy that sticks with it until his customers are satisfied. Like I said, my parents are good folks.

After he got off the phone with Mr. Two-Inch Hairline Crack in the Caulking, Dad remarked how frustrating it was to have someone who knows nothing about construction, or masonry, or plumbing on your back every damn second. Especially when you've basically paid $2,500 to do the work for them. My Father has been in construction all his life and the overwhelming majority of his customers are just ecstatic over his work; though he respects his customer's right to be involved in the process, he certainly doesn't need them second-guessing every last microscopic detail of it. Sometimes people need to realize that the professional knows what he's doing, has shown every sign of good faith and honesty, and the best thing they can do it shut up and let him do his job.

So when Dad finished grumbling over all this, I remarked "Imagine how George Bush feels". What these people are doing to my Dad is exactly what the left in this country is doing to President Bush (and not just the way-out left either, but the "loyal opposition" centrist Democrats too). The analogy is nearly flawless.

This President has been saddled with the most troublesome events since World War II. He has devoted every resource and made every effort to protect American citizens, take the battle to an enemy that desires nothing less than our complete subjugation, and still keep the promises he made to the voters who elected him. His administration has removed one of the most brutal regimes on Earth, likely preventing an all-out Middle East war 10 or 20 years down the road. And all of it has been done with meticulous care to avoid civilian suffering; never in the history of our entire species has a nation attacked as viciously as America was in September of 2001 gone to war with such restraint. Had it been done to the Russians or Chinese most of Arabia would be smoldering rubble right now. Believe it.

Yet any shred of appreciation is a rarity. Forget Europe and everyone else; right here in America George Bush is being called "liar", "failure", and unbelievably, "Hitler". It's just disgusting.

Now no one is saying there shouldn't be dissent. This is America and dissent is important. But there comes a point when dissent becomes sedition, and some people on the left - not all, but some - have crossed that line without even seeming to notice. Every misstep, every mistake, every setback is capitalized upon for political gain. Every scandal is widely reported by every news outlet, but few (sometimes only one) covers the daily triumphs and small victories. We're building a Democracy from the ground up for Christ's sake, and every American was warned that there would be costs - possibly very high ones. Mistakes and casualties are part of war, and every last one sucks, but the way the left is reacting you'd think they somehow expect a perfect operational record all the time. I know they're not that stupid, so I know their constant braying isn't honest dissent. It's political opportunism.

People should watch what their government does. People should vote their conscience. People should redress legitimate grievances against their leaders when necessary. But their should not be a goddamn political free-for-all just to swipe a momentary advantage in the polls.

If you know nothing about the military, do not presume to tell the Secretary of Defense how to conduct a war. If you know nothing about counter-intelligence operations, do not presume to tell the National Security Advisor how to prevent terrorist attacks. And if you know nothing about the mind-boggling intricacies of managing a nation of 300 million individualists, do not presume to tell The President of the United States of America that he is a failure.