But the more comprehensive difference between a wartime election and a postwar election is that there is a shift in values. In wartime, leadership traits like courage, steadfastness and ruthlessness are prized. Voters are willing to vote for candidates they distrust so long as they seem tough and effective (Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani). In a postwar election things are different. When Wall Street Journal/NBC pollsters asked voters what qualities they were looking for in the next leader, their top three choices were: the ability to work well with leaders of other countries; having strong moral and family values; bringing unity to the country. Those are cooperative qualities, not combative ones. They require good listening skills, openness and the ability to compromise.
Including the title, I counted five instances where Mr. Brooks used the word “postwar”. There is only one problem, which Greg Mitchell articulates:
Postwar? Peace? Try telling that to the soldiers in Iraq, and the families whose kids are still coming home minus a limb or part of their brain. Last I checked we were still spending billions of dollars a month Over There and I haven't heard about any bases, or the grand embassy, being dismantled. A new Gallup poll (see below) disputes the notion, anyway. Is the issue a little less "hot"? Surely. But to say it is over is an obscenity. With rose-colored glasses still in place, Brooks takes a world tour, finding more reason to relax about Iran, Pakistan (?), even the Palestinian question. My favorite line then follows: "The world still has its problems." Gosh, you think? Later he admits, "Something terrible could happen in the world" to change the hopeful mood. As if little terrible is happening now. This all started last week with Peter Beinart’s self-serving column in The Washington Post -- Brooks cites it today -- which flatly called the war a "non-story." He took as his main evidence that questions about the war were not being asked all that much at the Democratic and Republican debates. The fact that all of the Democrats are much in agreement against the war, and all of the leading Republicans in agreement in support of the venture, apparently did not occur to Beinart as an explanation. Of course, if any of the Democrats faced off against any of the Republicans right now, is there any doubt what would be the hottest issue? But Beinart – an original hawk on the war, like Brooks – had good reason to downplay the disaster he helped cause.
Hawks like Brooks and Beinart were over-hyping the treat of Saddam Hussein as they underestimated the potential costs of invading Iraq back in 2002 and early 2003. So why is Greg surprised that these pundits are at it again with their dismissing the fact that this failed and very destructive adventure continues? Brooks does have not the courage to do what Paul Harvey did in 1970 when Mr. Harvey told President Nixon that the Vietnam War was a mistake that should be ended immediately. As a kid, I had to endure the fact that my parents made me watch Mr. Harvey’s conservative rants on a daily basis. As an adult, I miss the old fashion conservatives. No, having to endure hacks like David Brooks is so much worse.