In the middle of working on a longer piece about the American Grand Strategy in the Middle East yesterday I discovered that a couple of the Iraq war’s moderate supporters had changed their minds recently. Specifically Norm Geras of Normblog who now says he would have neither opposed nor supported the Iraq war if he knew what he knows now. And Zeyad of Healing Iraq currently in New York studying journalism who at least in part is reacting, very understandably, to the recent death of a friend in Baghdad. He says he regrets ever supporting the war at all in a short post. I hope he elaborates when he feels better because he has written some of the most informative posts of any Iraqi blogger. He not only scooped the world media on a 10,000 plus anti insurgency demonstration in 2003, he also reported the fatal abuse of his cousin by American soldiers well before Abu Ghraib broke. What surprised me was not that people change their minds, but that they seem to be doing so at this moment. I don’t see anything in particular new to change minds about Iraq except the pre US election crescendo of discouraging stories from Iraq. Zeyad’s personal reasons are clear, but I wouldn’t think Norm was easily swayed just by the media. I felt bemused.

So I dug deeper in the places I rely on to find out what is going on in Iraq to see if I was missing something. For detailed reporting of the military situation in Iraq I go to Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail, but he has nothing new about Iraq except a piece on al Qaeda detailing how they are trying to reorganize the Sunni insurgency under their brand. Likewise Michael Yon has been writing about Afghanistan and believes the situation there is actually at a more critical stage than in Iraq. And Austin Bay who can be relied on to blog calmly about developments in Iraq is writing about North Korea. I wasn’t finding any answers until it occurred to me maybe I was simply seeing a moment of uncertainty on the eve of an important election. Not a tipping point because I think what I am picking up is that there is no clear direction. By that I mean I believe it is very easy right now to come to the conclusion that neither appeasement nor intervention has worked since 9/11 and now the Norks have a bomb – maybe.

So I asked my sister, who lives in the Bay Area, when I talked to her today and she said she thought America was recognizing they weren’t safe in lots of ways and had the shakes like a bowl full of gelatin.. Their kids are being attacked in school and even the vegetables are not safe and people are dying from E coli. The guy promising to protect their kids from predators on the Internet turns out to be an Internet predator. She felt that we either had to chuck it in or that better leaders had to emerge. My sister isn’t much interested in politics but she is a good observer of the collective mood – and what she had to say, fit what I was picking up from Australia.

I made the comment to my sister that the media – especially TV – was contributing to any shakiness mightily because their favorite tactic is to jerk our emotions around no matter what the issue. Then she related a recent experience at a hairdressers where the ladies were talking about how they were fed up with the manipulativeness of the media. It reminded me of an experience of chatting to a couple of working class guys in a park in West Palm Beach a couple a years ago. I suggested that the media was bit biased and ended up feeling like a timid student getting gutted by a couple of aggressive professors who had spent their careers proving same. Folks are almost certainly waking up to the media and are forming opinions independent of the what is being pumped into them – just like folks in Europe in WW2 listened to the propaganda from both sides and then formed their opinion as to what was actually going on. I think there is a lot of that right now. It is becoming an open secret that the MSM is full of baloney and that is a very good thing indeed.

So what does a sophisticated political observer like journalist blogger Michael J Totten have to say about the US right now?

I pretty much agree with Glenn Reynolds: The Republicans deserve to lose, but the Democrats don’t deserve to win. What’s a dead-center guy like me supposed to do when neither of our sorry political parties are worth putting or keeping in office?

In my case I can make it easy on myself and fall back on my default option, the Democrats. I could make it difficult by painstakingly figuring out which party sucks slightly less, but I won’t. The default option it is. I’m voting straight Democrat next month. The Republicans are in charge of all branches of government. And if neither party deserves to be in charge then they can cancel each other out. Enjoy the coming stalemate, boys and girls of the Congress. You’ve earned it.

Well, I’m a centrist too and my take is that neither party has much in the way of answers. That is another way to say ‘moment of uncertainty’. I suspect the American electorate is about to punish both parties by denying the Republicans a majority and the Democrats enough power to do anything. A Republican Senate and a Democratic House, which seems a possible result this week, and is one way to ensure that kind of outcome.

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