I am becoming increasingly convinced that civilized discourse in this country is becoming just about impossible, particularly where politics are involved. The debate about the war, which is coming to a head because of the Democrats' insistence on arbitrary deadlines, has become so toxic that it is simply not possible to find any compromise. And the supporters of these posturing politicians are so nasty, so partisan, that I don't see how we'll ever come up with a solution that will work.
A lot of this rancor began in the aftermath of the Reagan years. I don't know that it will do to assign blame to anyone in particular, although a lot of the tactical, scorched-earth stuff that has become endemic in political discourse these days came from the Clintons and their political machine. The thing that's most striking is the way no one on the Left seems to think that anyone on the Right could possibly be operating with good will. All the motives are seen as suspect, all the arguments seen as "talking points" or part of some "neo-con" fantasy. We've gotten to this place gradually over the last 15-20 years, but it's a terrible place to be, given the stakes in the world right now. The U.S., for better or worse, is the indispensable nation at this point in history. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities anywhere, because there is no other nation or group of nations that is able or willing to take on the burdens we have. The U.N. is a debating society, the EU is perpetually dithering and many of the other actors on the world stage are, frankly, bad guys.
My guess is we'll be walking away from a lot of things in 2009. I worry a lot about what that will mean for us as a nation. I hope that those on the Left are right about all this, because I think they will be getting their way for at least a while.