I'm lifting this quote wholesale from a recent Economist obitiuary because I've never read the book, though I imagine if I ever get around to reading anything David Halberstam wrote it'll likely be The Best and the Brightest. This timely quote comes from the end of that book.
Time was on the side of the enemy, and we were in a position of not being able to win, not being able to get out...only being able to lash out...And so the war went on, tearing at this country; a sense of numbness seemed to replace an earlier anger. There was, Americans were finding out, no light at the end of the tunnel, only greater darkness.
I'm not entirely hopeful, but that sense of numbness Americans are experiencing anew over Iraq and the breathtaking military, political and diplomatic disaster it represents seemed, this past week especially, to be plucking the White House out of the dark recesses of its own asshole and sending it, however fleetingly, quivering into the light. That contentious, supposedly confidential and ultimately widely reported meeting between Bush and Republican moderates concerned about the war even managed a dismissive snarl from Cheney on his stomping grounds over at Fox:
"We didn't get elected to be popular. We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party. Our mission is to do everything we can to prevail on what is now, we believe, a global conflict, a fundamental test of the character of the American people, whether or not we're going to be able to prevail against one of the most evil opponents we've ever faced."
But the thing is, there are a lot of folks who are worried about the fate of the Republican Party and precisely how, under its leadership, the character of the American people has been precariously debased. It may be basely political for moderates in the Republican party to be clambering for change just as the '08 election cycle establishes itself but if that's what it takes to nudge the White House, so be it. In the end, I fear, Bush will be handing things off to the next administration and happily sauntering to Crawford to cut brush and crack fart jokes with Karl Rove. And even if the White House and Congress actually manage to work out some agreed upon system of benchmarks with consequences (namely, troop withdraws), the problem and consequences of Iraq will be dangerously reverberating on any number of levels, each more depressing then the next, for quite some time.