Freedom Fries guy changes mind, opposes war. What does this mean for liberals?

Conservative Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina was the man who spearheaded the Freedom Fries campaign to protest France’s opposition to the Iraq War. In an interview yesterday with George Stephanopoulos (and previously in an interview with a Raleigh newspaper), Jones said that he himself now opposes the war.

Why? Two reasons. One, he took it upon himself early on to write letters of condolence to all the families of fallen soldiers. Not just his district. All of them. Little did he know that he would end up writing more than 1,300 of them.

Sometimes, he said, a family would write back. What might have originated as a support-our-troops gimmick became, over time, a window into the worlds of people whose lives had been shattered — children who’d lost their fathers, husbands who’d lost their wives. It was the writing back that got to him.

But what sealed it was a funeral he attended. The soldier’s bride was there, with twins her husband had never seen. He left for Iraq when she was two months pregnant. She read for the congregation a letter he had written her just hours before his last fatal mission. The Representative from North Carolina surrendered his hubris there on the altar of a woman’s love for her husband and children. His soul had been convicted by a man who died for a lie.

He says now that it was all lies. There were no weapons of mass destruction. No nuclear capability. No reason to go to war. Not at this cost. Not for 1,300 dead. Not for 10,000 severely wounded. Nor for hundreds of millions of dollars wasted.

Does he worry about the wrath of his conservative constituency for his change of mind? No. He says his father, a long time Congressman for his state, had taught him, “Stand always first by your conscience, second by your constituents, and third by your party.” This, he says, is a matter of conscience.

I’m ambivalent about this. I mean, damn him for starting this whole Freedom Fries mess, and contributing to the mindless patriotic drivel that preceded this war. On the other hand, nothing he could have done would have stopped the war, and now his lone voice is more effective than a thousand screeching Kennedys. When the foundation crumbles, the house falls down.

I believe that history will regard George W Bush as the tyrant that he is. Every time government has started a War on Something, it has thrown gasoline on the fire. The disparity between rich and poor is greater than before the War on Poverty. The War on Drugs spawned a worldwide drug market, creating crimes for criminals to commit. As soon as the War on Terror was announced, I knew that we would never be safe again. Not only is the tyrant stripping us of our liberties, he is exposing us to greater dangers than we have ever known.

Jones made freedom a joke word. Bush has made it a curse word. It is time for liberals to stop laughing. It is time for liberals to stop being offended. Liberal and liberty come from the same Latin root: liber -> freedom. Retake the words that belong to you. Take back your country. You want to appeal to those you’ve lost? Stop making fun of words like freedom. That’s what conservatives do.

Start using the words with pride. You’ve lost people because they don’t want to follow you out into the swamps and marshes of special interests. Stop with the bleeding hearts. Stop with the wringing hands. Hold up the light of freedom and let people come willingly to you. Freedom is the answer for what ails them all. The gay man can’t get married until he is free to give his consent. The environmentalist can’t save the land until he is free to own it. Blacks and Indians can’t have a level playing field until they are free to compete.

Stop using government to reward failure and punish success. Stop declaring Wars on This and That. Stop hating rich people — they are the source of all wealth. Stop making laws to engineer society — the unforseen consequences will destroy your plans. Stop alienating people of faith — they are neither stupid nor ignorant for believing in God, and the lines you draw force their hands. Stop compromising your principles in an effort to become all things to all people — it only leaves you disorganized and vulnerable.

Dump Howard Dean. He’s doing everything wrong. He’s drawing attention to himself, and distracting from the cause. He’s insulting and alienating all the people you need to draw. He’s bellicose and beligerent. He’s telling people that the Walter Joneses of the world are irredeemable. Obviously, they are not. In fact, you could benefit from the advice of his father, “Stand always first by your conscience, second by your constituents, and third by your party.”

You’ve made the mistake of trying to dazzle the populace with your dizzying intellects. People don’t follow intelligence. They follow courage. Martin Luther King Jr is not remembered for words that sent people rushing to dictionaries, but words that sent people rushing to the streets. Walter Jones might be a dumbass, but he followed his principles. What you need to do is make sure what when people go through that kind of soul searching and come out the other end, you are there. And when they arrive, don’t tell them “I told you so.” Just thank them for coming, and say, “Welcome.”

I don’t see this as just a failing of the opposition to make the case against the war. For the most part even the Dem politicians were behind the war. The culture in the US post 9/11 made it easy for the Admin to manipulate the agenda.

A tame press for the most part.
A population easily driven by patriotism and nationalistic posturing.
A political leader as head of state and so adding to the respect he is held in.

Just look at the rest of the western world. The population of these countries were all against the war in very high %ages. The US stood out on it’s own as having a population that was numerically in support of the war. Britain for example while involved in the war had a population that was against it and had the largest demonstrations in it’s history against it. Blair has been signifigantly damaged from this affair. Bush is stronger.

There is a lot more to this that just ineffectual opposition politicians and blowhards coming out with statements like “freedom fries”.

Fuck you.

Screeching Kennendys?

Fuck you. You want to blame liberals and describe them as “screeching,” suggest that we “make fun of the word freedom” and hold the “Freedom Fry” guy up on a pedestal because he had a change of mind, excusing him because there was nothing he could have done to stop the war? Frankly, my only surprise is that he had a mind to change in the first place.

This is just like the sentiment of many people who want to blame Democrats for the re-election of Bush. “Shit, I didn’t want to vote for Bush, but you guys nominated a Democrat. It’s your fault he’s in office now.”

You are a dumbass piece of shit, just like the Freedom Fries guy. Don’t blame liberals because they have foresight enough to see that the war was based on bullshit.

And stop abusing words like “screeching” and “shrill” when what you really mean is “Words I don’t like.”

Of course tragic as these deaths are, we must not forget the many tens of thousands of Iraqi dead and also the casualties among the other coalition partners.

I for one am not sure whether this guy is honest or just trying to start a political bandwagon. I would like to think that he is governed by his conscience, but with polititians you can never be sure.

Umm…over 1700 dead now.

Whoo. Big post there. Well written. Suitable amount of big words. All in all, A-.

Now to quote the entire OP in my post. Actually, I’ll just start at this part and go paragraph by paragraph. It’ll save the hamsters.

Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna happen. It could be my natural pessimism talking, but I think Bush 2 (electric bugaloo) is gonna be right up there with Saint Reagan if the current crop of republicans has anything to say about it. Once that passes, you’ll have a brilliant but flawed leader. Maybe in a hundred years someone will publish a biography that says he slept with male slaves or something like that.

It is going to take one hell of a speaker to get those words of the marketing buzz words shitheap. They get tossed on everything that a politician wants to sell. If you did a freedom/liberty drinking game to a Bush speech, you’d be dead before the end.

You really are an optimist. People follow the appearance of courage. They want a president that is like them, that they could see themselves having a beer with. They want someone who reflects their “moral values,” which doesn’t say a whole lot about the moral values in this country. They also want someone who doesn’t challenge them too much. They want someone nonconfrontational and nonthreatening.

Courage had better come with a slick ad campaign or he/she’s funked.

I hadn’t heard about Jones. How has the rest of the media handled this story? How about Fox News? The media likes controversy. I think this qualifies. Fox seems to hate this kind of stuff.

I wish you could have placed this in GD. We might have been spared **Hentor’s **venting.

Let’s hope he can swing others and make them** former** supporters.
In reading the Dean thread I came to see that there might be a method to his apparent madness. I don’t have much faith it will work but I’m begining to see it as tactics rather than stupidity.

I’m very concerned about whats happening to the media. You have to get the truth in front of peoples faces and make them look at it. Like Jones who saw it over and over until the scales were tipped. The “free press” has become a joke and aren’t fulfilling their role in democracy. Can we find an alternative method or find a way to change the media we already have?

What’s the debate?

I would give this post the same reply in any forum (probably minus the “fuck yous”). Liberal wants to link an attack of conscience to the castigation of the “screeching Kennedys”, and you want to sit back and debate it? Just because opponents of the war didn’t actually need to see grieving families to spur their conscience doesn’t mean the Freedom Fries guy gets some kind of medal.

Apart from that, I wonder, if all else were equal (that is, the same number of Iraqis killed, the same atrocities of Abu Gharaib, the same absence of any sort of justification for the war, the same civil strife…) but he had only had to write 1,150 letters, or 975 letters, would he have had the same attack of conscience? What if he hadn’t gotten replies or gone to the funeral? Would he have been unable to conceive of the suffering of these families?

Yeah, I say “Welcome and help us clean this shit up. And you can leave your self-shame-based condemnation of liberals at the door.”

Ain’t it a bitch when Cognitive Dissonance goes into remission?


It’s true those words have been abused. Perhaps it can’t be done given the current media. I do believe we need someone to remind us of the true meaning of these words. It doesn’t have to be a politician. We’re in need of a sincere charismatic person to rekindle our national conscience.

I think thats one facet of the American public. Not the only one. I think people can respond to a leader who recognizes and speaks clearly and convincingly of our humanity. We’ve done great things but we still struggle and make mistakes. It’s tremendously painful for us to face the fact that we sent people to be killed and maimed and to kill and maim and it was a mistake.
I think people in both parties will respond to a leader who speaks his truth with the minimum of political BS.
The question for me is, with our contempoary media, how does anyone get their message to the masses?

I think Harborwolf does have a point, though. There really are some people who don’t want to be confronted or threatened. I should have qualified what I said by saying that people who are willing to go out and make a difference follow courage. The couch potatoes and sore heads will always follow mediocrity.

Tough shit, Lib.

You have a choice; vote for a Republican and send your children to die in a foreign land.

Vote for a Democrat, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Democrats are not going to become more like Republicans just so you will have a more palatable choice. We intend to stand by our principles; it is a matter of conscience.

Damn, Hentor. With screechers like you, who needs a Kennedy? You’re exactly the kind of person who hurts the Democratic Party, a socialist authoritarian who masquerades as a liberal. You didn’t oppose the war because of any foresight. You opposed it because war is all scary and messy and inconvenient. You don’t care about Iraqi casualties. Each body represents nothing more to you than a vindication that your coin landed on heads. In the 60s, we would have called you a plastic hippie. If you had come to the protests at all, you’d have been complaining that the corndogs were overcooked. You’re a your-team vs my-team kind of guy. I’m afraid there’s just no place for you in the impending renaissance of liberalism.

Too late. You’ve already given them everything of value that you had.

I’m afraid you abandoned those long ago. Who is the Democrat fighting for individual liberty and personal responsibility these days?

Gee, you got all that from my saying “Fuck you?” What a keen insight you have. One might even say you are trying to dazzle me with your dizzying intellect.

Of course, your assessment is self-serving and full of shit, but that probably goes without saying.

So do the current government and the majority that supported them and the war carry any repsonsibility at all or is it all the Dems fault?

There really aren’t enough :rolleyes: in the world.

It might be “Is this a sign the tide is turning?”

That would be my preference. There are times when a well placed “Fuck You” serves a purpose. IMO this wasn’t one of them.

He didn’t suggest anything close to a medal. Do you think venting your profanities is much more helpful than a discussion in GD? I’ve been against the war as long as anyone could possibly be. The fact is we failed to make our case to the American public. You can blame Karl Rove and Fox news and a cast of lieing scumbags if you like. You can even enjoy feeling morally superior to all those that voted for Bush but “You’re a fucking moron for supporting Bush” doesn’t make things one iota better. As citizens of this country, we have to own our failure to find the right voice and message to win the election.

If there’s a point here I don’t see it. I don’t think the guy deserves a medal. I don’t think any of us who opposed the war from the begining have any kind of righteousness seniority. The point is it’s still going on and what do we do about it? Where is the message that brings the majority of this countries citizens together against this shameful ongoing tragedy?

I have no way to gauge Jones sincerity. If he was true to the dictates of his conscience from his support of the war to now then I can appreciate and respect that even if I don’t agree. I’ve had many discussions with a friend of mine who is a Bush supporter. I respect his opinion and intelligence. Liberals don’t have the right answers and conservatives don’t have the right answers. We find solutions together by communication that involves speaking and listening.

Great, I’m in favor of you not saying it, or anything else for that matter.

You really think it’s that simple don’t you? You must feel great being one of the good guys.

If your principles are “We know we’re right and you’re wrong so fuck you” then you are exactly like the republicans you despise.

Why yes; yes, I do.

It sure beats. “We don’t know what is right, so please walk all over us,” which is just what you apparently would prefer. Ain’t gonna happen Skippy.

Holy crap, Nobody is laying all the blame on the Dems or denying the responsibility of anyone else. This sounds amazing similar to the “blame America first” crap the republican pundits lay on you. Do you think it’s helpful to do the same bullshit they do?

It isn’t about figureing out who’s to blame or who has the most “I’m right and morally superior” points. Recognizing the failure of the Dems is a crucial part figureing out where to go from here. We actually are in this together as citizens of this country.
Those that voted for either candidate and those who decided neither one deserved a vote.