“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
— John Kerry, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, statement to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 23, 1971.
Of course, there were some people who never agreed that the Vietnam War was a mistake. At least, going in.
People who never gave up on the idea that that war was a necessary stand against the creep of The international communist conspiracy. Who argued that, if we had just stuck with it longer, devoted more troops, more money, more napalm, maybe even gone nuclear, we could have won.
Those who were, in the words Donald Rumsfeld used to describe Saddam Hussein’s most loyal supporters, “pockets of dead-enders.”
That did not turn out well.
Now we watch as some of the dead-enders associated with the regime of the sitting president of the United States try to decide if they are going to continue going down with that ship or find a way off.
A few of them are from Utah.
Part of the problem is that it is neither human nature nor politically popular to acknowledge that you’ve been wrong all along. It should be a virtue to be able to keep one’s eyes open, assess a changing situation and decide, either quietly or with some fanfare, that one is taking a different position or just accepting reality. Yet there is a fear, especially among politicians, that such wisdom and growth will be denounced as being indecisive, a sunshine patriot, a flip-flopper.
It doesn’t help that this president has always demanded loyalty from everyone in his party but has never shown any in return. And even as he seems to be moving to accept the fact that he didn’t win reelection — or, more to his liking, that the election was stolen from him — he continues to hold much of the once-proud Republican Party in his thrall.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes took a weekend trip to Nevada and returned convinced that there were some voting irregularities there that might have to be investigated before the election is finally called for Joe Biden.
Not that it would make any difference. It’s just a way for Utah’s chief law enforcement officer to further endear himself to the dead-enders.
Burgess Owens, who may or may not have been elected to Congress from Utah’s 4th District by the time you read this, using a totally unsupported allegation that the election is being stolen from him as the motivation for a recent fundraising letter. Taking a page right from the president’s playbook, which is not all that odd for someone who already moves in the demented circles of the QAnon world.
Sen. Mike Lee, who already flipped from being one of the president’s most outspoken foes to being one of his most cringe-worthy supporters, is testing the waters for a flop back. He doesn’t claim to know the voting was rigged, just that both sides should pursue their right to investigate everything.
November 9, 2020
Which is fair enough, I suppose, though still falling far short of the simple statement of congratulations for Biden that has already come, quite graciously, from Sen. Mitt Romney. Along with proper concern that the president is doing nothing less than undermining American democracy.
Gov.-elect Spencer Cox has now demonstrated that he is secure enough in his own position to tell the truth. As Cox said in the full light of CNN the other day, this election was not stolen, fixed, corrupted or meddled with. Every state election office says so, as does the Department of Homeland Security.
Yet Cox felt the need to go on in his Twitter thread, drawing a false equivalency between the election fraud that does not exist this year and the Russian election meddling that did happen in 2016.
If you spoke out against false accusations then, please do so now. And if you are speaking out now, I really hope you did so then. Sometimes our team just loses. It doesn’t mean the other side cheated, it just means we have to work harder next time to convince more voters.— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) November 12, 2020
“If you spoke out against false accusations then, please do so now," Cox tweeted. “And if you are speaking out now, I really hope you did so then."
The problem is that then, no serious journalist or political leader said that Russian interference in our 2016 election process included nefariously adding or subtracting votes, or registering or deregistering voters. Not that it could never happen, but that it didn’t.
What happened then, as confirmed by the Mueller report and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is that Russian and Russian-backed online operations flooded your demented father’s Facebook and your crazy uncle’s Instagram with phony information that made our current chief magistrate look good and Hillary Clinton look bad.
That’s the kind of thing our soon-to-be former president and his fans are doing now.
If the Republican Party doesn’t want to continue to be the personal playground of this Russian stooge, its leaders need to be about distancing themselves from him, making it clear that he isn’t going to be president come Jan. 20, nor the Republican nominee come 2024.
How you ask an entire political party to die for this mistake?
George Pyle is editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.