It’s hard not to be cynical when it comes to politicians. For instance, I would like to assume the best about Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) — that he is taking a bold stand to support General Pace. Yet, knowing he is running for president and is actively courting conservative voters, it is hard to avoid the impression that his letter of support has been written opportunistically, hoping to hop on the “flak bandwagon.” It is hard, indeed, to resist the cynical spirit of this age! Hard, too, to distinguish cynicism from discernment.
Still, recognizing that the best assumptions represent acts of will, I will assume the best in the absence of evidence to the contrary. And taking advantage of a moment to support someone standing for shared values isn’t exactly “opportunism,” in and of itself.
I do like one of the points Sen. Brownback makes:
“We should not expect someone as qualified, accomplished and articulate as General Pace to lack personal views on important moral issues,” Brownback said. “In fact, we should expect that anyone entrusted with such great responsibility will have strong moral views.”
This brings up the question: Is the outrage about General Pace’s comments because he expressed his opinions publicly or because he holds those opinions at all? Our society greases its gears liberally with the oil of pretense, so I would not be surprised if the former is the case. But increasingly, I suspect it is the latter. More and more often, even holding to such views means to some that you are somehow mentally deficient.
I have wondered if the whole General Pace issue would quickly become old news, but if any of our current batch of presidential candidates feels he or she can get some traction out of it, expect to hear more. And I would think that staunchly conservative candidates, like Sen. Brownback seems to be, can get more traction than most (a conclusion which, I think, is bolstered by the strained and delayed responses of Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton to the remarks).