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Humphrey Bogart, playing the hard-boiled detective Philip Marlow, had some great lines in the film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel The Big Sleep. This is one of my favorites: “He’ll kick my teeth out, and then punch me in the stomach for mumbling.” No matter what happens, even when the bad guy does it to him, Marlowe can’t win. They’ll be no satisfying the opposition even when the opposition is at fault. The line reminded me of how the liberal left, and even some conservatives, have been evaluating the results of the elections in Iraq. “They won’t turn out well. . . . There will be a bloodbath. The turnout would be low.” We’ve learned that more than 60 percent of the people turned out to vote. But this isn’t enough for the naysayers. Not everyone got to vote or decided to vote. About 50 percent of eligible voters go to the polls in the United States with no fear of being shot at or blown up. More than 60 percent turn out in war-torn Iraq, and this doesn’t satisfy the naysayers.
On yesterday’s “Meet the Press” (jan. 30, 2005), John Kerry said, “No one in the United States should try to overhype this election. . . . It’s hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can’t vote and doesn’t vote.” If this is the criteria for what constitutes a legitimate election, then we haven’t had one in this country in a long time. The people in Iraq who did vote have a lot to be praised for when compared to those who complained about having to stand in line a few hours to vote in Ohio. I saw pictures of people on crutches going to the polls. One young boy was helping his grandmother to vote. Many people danced in the street after voting. There’s a lesson here for Christians. What’s our excuse for not turning out to vote in droves?
Ted Kennedy said “we need to look beyond the election.” This is code for, “The election turned out better than we expected, so let’s look for what might go wrong down the road so we can blame those who want to bring freedom to the people of Iraq and the rest of the Muslim world. If things aren’t fixed in a week, then we have no business in the region.” Of course, Kennedy will be the first critic to blame the Bush administration if terrorists do strike again in America. Am I exaggerating? When asked if the world is less dangerous because of the election results, Kerry made this response: “No, it’s more. And, in fact, I believe the world is less safe today than it was two and a half years ago.”
Don’t get me wrong. My heart grows heavy when I hear about American soldiers who die fighting in Iraq. I also have mixed feelings about this war and the way it was executed. A few years ago, my mother showed me the notice she received from the War Department about my father’s injuries when he served in Korea. I was about a year old at the time of the notification. My father lost his right leg above the knee in a mortar attack. Our family was dramatically affected by what happened to him. But unlike so many others, my father returned home alive. War is hell, but sometimes war is necessary.
If the naysayers had had their way in 1776, America would still be a colony of Great Britain. After the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Ted Kennedy would have stated, “Well, it’s just a piece of paper.” Kerry would have chimed in, “But not everyone got to sign it. There were only 56 signatures. It’s not representative of the whole country.” Were the colonies better off on July 5th? Not from Kerry’s perspective, because a war followed soon after, but so did a new nation. Kennedy and Kerry would have been disastrous team of naysayers for America in the eighteenth century. Would they have signed the document given its closing line?: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” We’ll never know.