CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

April 5, 2013

COMMENTARY: Who's to blame for our politics? Don't ask

There is a classic "Doonesbury" cartoon, published soon after the Vietnam War ended, in which the antiwar activist Mark Slackmeyer is arguing with his pro-war father. They go back and forth, each blaming the other's politics for everything that's wrong in Southeast Asia, when they finally reach the Cambodian genocide.

They stare at each other in perplexity until one mutters, "Whose fault did that turn out to be?"

That ironic bit of commentary came to mind as I read various accusatory accounts of Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit to Baghdad, where he essentially begged — really, there is no other word — the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to halt the pipeline of arms from Iran to President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, a flow of weaponry that runs directly over Iraqi airspace. Maliki, for his part, promised to take the matter under advisement — although it is clear that, like Herman Melville's Bartleby, he would prefer not to.

Back in the United States, meanwhile, politicians and pundits have been doing what nowadays they seem to do best: placing blame. Politics ought to be about solving problems. Increasingly, however, U.S. politics consists of fault-finding, explaining to voters as well as readers and listeners where responsibility lies for whatever the current mess. We may not be able to fix many problems, but we sure know how to wash our hands of them.

Consider again the issue of Kerry's failed mission. There's a Republican narrative in which Maliki's intransigence stems from President Obama's decision to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq in 2011. There's a Democratic narrative in which the problem is the 2003 invasion itself, either because it overthrew Saddam Hussein (who, for all his unquestioned cruelties, was a bulwark against Iran's ambitions) or because it led to the more general instability in the region.

Text Only
Opinion
  • EDITORIAL: Judge makes the right decision

    Many people are closely following the case of Jay Maynor, the man charged with murdering a man convicted of molesting his daughter 12 years ago.

    July 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Truth and independence

    Somewhere along a colonial road between Lexington and Concord, Americans found their courage and resolve to become independent.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Taking charge with a vote

    The Democratic and Republican primaries arrive Tuesday morning across the state, with many election officials and candidates fearing a low turnout could be in store for what otherwise should be cause for a great gathering of citizens.

    June 3, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A state dying from drug use

    Alabama coroners, with the power to order and log results of  toxicology reports, hold the key to important information for families and law enforcement officials.

    May 20, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Looking beyond the standard

    Cullman County schools superintendent Billy Coleman opened a wide door of opportunity when he supported a transition to an appointed executive to lead the local education system.

    May 20, 2014

  • Editorial: Meal money violates trust

    As various local political candidates dash toward the June 3 primary, a troublesome issue remains unattended on the table.

    May 11, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: GSC teams a boost to area

    Cullman is full of a lot of new faces this week as the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference Softball Championship unfolds at Heritage Park.

    May 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Learn about candidates for sheriff

    Kissing babies and eating pork barbecue at community gatherings are typical delights for political office seekers. Those moments show a glimpse of the candidates’ personalities, but not much else.

    April 29, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Why we Relay

    For more than 20 years, a large group of Cullman County residents have banded together with one common goal in mind: to help in the fight against cancer.

    April 28, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014