Being Right and Wrong

Kevin Drum links to a piece by Spencer Ackerman:

Haunted by Vietnam, Democrats are determined to express support for the troops. This is admirable. The truth of the matter, however, is this: many troops in Iraq, perhaps even most of them, want to stay and fight.

….Democrats have made the decision — rightly, I think — that withdrawing from Iraq is the least bad of many bad options. But they shouldn’t kid themselves into thinking that a majority of the troops doing the fighting agree with them. For soldiers like Lieutenant Wellman, this will be hard to accept. As he told me of war doubters back home, “I don’t want them to just support the troops. I want them to support the mission.” This matters, because pretending that in ending the war they’re doing the troops a favor hurts Democrats politically. They risk looking condescending, and, worse, oblivious — which has the broader effect of undermining public trust in the Democrats to handle national security. More basically, it does a disservice to those who serve. For soldiers who are optimistic, being told that the war can’t be won is bad enough. But to be told that politicians are doing them a favor by extricating them from a mission they believe in is downright insulting.

This is God’s own truth. Ditto for the Democratic obsession with using better body armor, higher GI pay, or the quality of military medical care as proxies for “supporting the troops.” As with leaving Iraq, these are all good things to support. But they’re good things on their own terms, not because anyone in uniform will be fooled into thinking that voting for them means you support the military. It’s the equivalent of Democrats who thought that John Kerry had automatic credibility on national security just because he was a Vietnam vet.

I suspect they’re right. But I also think this is no different than getting criticized for reading GW’s Economic Blueprint in early 2001 and concluding its unadulterated BS. Sure, I hoped GW was going to pay down the debt as promised, and I was willing to give him a chance to prove me wrong, but damn if it wasn’t obvious his silly “plan” wasn’t going to work. And it has since failed miserably despite them putting the goalposts on a flatbed truck and chasing the ball around.

And this is something I noted a long time ago in the corporate world. At one point, I was lucky enough to report to one of the most competent and intelligent individuals I’ve ever met. And I always wondered why he had never quite made it to the top rungs of the company. Eventually I realized, you can be wrong all the time, as long as everyone above you on the totem pole is also wrong. But being right when everyone above you is wrong… well, that’s something you can do once, maybe twice, before you get in a heck of a lot of trouble.