As we get into the fall season, in addition to the normal rhythms of autumn — back to school, back from vacation, buckling down for the winter — we pass another anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, and get to witness the spectacle of Congress "getting back to work" and the 2008 Presidential race kicking into high gear.
Frankly, Americans on both sides of the aisle have reasons to dread the latter two events. With respect to the politically motivated among Americans (however large that population truly is), neither side will actually get anything they want, and much noise and ink will be deployed in trying to convince us otherwise. One side will not see the US signal a willing end to the Iraq War and an admission that the policy was a mistake, whether deliberate or not — because as is apparent, this is what the "anti-war left" wants. And the other side will not see a country that "sees the light" and finally agrees unanimously that everything in the last six years is more than justified by the gravity of the threat we face — again, as everybody in the country knows, this is what the "conservative" and traditionalists in this country want. I leave aside the less salient but still significant aspects of political opposition in this country because, honestly, these are the big issues of the day. As with Vietnam, the nation today is split over different models of what "patriotism" requires of citizens in our current situation.