Words worth a second look

Syndicated columnists put out lots of words these days. And very few stand out as worth a second look.

Two columns on the same page of the June 20 Minot Daily News, however, did have some words worth reading and re-rereading.

Commenting on the current mess in Iraq, Patrick Buchanan took issue with those like Senator John McCain who see the attack in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as “an existential threat to the security of the United States of America.”

Buchanan wrote: “But nothing that happens in Mesopotamia is going to threaten the existence of the United States. As for the terrorist threat from ISIS, for us it is neither greater nor less than it was a week ago.

“The existential threat here is to Iraq. And if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his 900,000-man army, and Shia militia cannot defend Baghdad from a few thousand Islamist warriors, America is under no obligation to do it for them.”

Buchanan is a conservative but not a neo-conservative. He sees the 2003 Iraq invasion as a big mistake, something the neo-cons cannot or will not admit. No matter what, it seems.

In her column on illegal immigrants, Froma Harrop pointed out that some Republicans are “once again taking a position totally opposed to what they claim to want.”

The Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform plan is tough on enforcement. And President Obama has deported considerably more illegal immigrants than his predecessor, President Bush. Yet many on the right refuse to work with Obama on enforcement, even though many on the left disagree with his tough enforcement practices.

Harrop, a mostly liberal columnist, then makes this all too-true observation : “One suspects that many right-wingers would rather see their teeth fall out and cars repossessed than make common cause with Obama even on an issue with which they have common cause.”

And in her next sentence, she generalizes this to an observation of good old flawed human nature (left or right or whatever): “Again, populist movements fueled by emotion often bypass achieving goals in favor of nurturing resentments. It’s less work that way.”

Ouch. That hits all of us to some degree, especially those whose main source of news is FOX or MSNBC, a viewing habit pretty much guaranteed to harden rather than ease left-right differences.

But then, in a way, the Iraq situation might just bring right and left together.

Given the Obama administration’s leaning toward some US military involvement, we might see a majority of Republicans and Democrats having the same opinion about such a move.

If the president seeks congressional authority to in effect re-invade Iraq, we might see both sides opposing this, the Democrats because they disagree with it, the Republicans because it’s his proposal.

Thus, the Republicans would prove Harrop’s observation. They would be opposing an action that they favor because they can’t side with Obama on anything.

We’ll see how things turn out.

(James Lein is a community columnist for The Minot Daily?News)