Sunday, March 21, 2004

The influence of veterans on the election 

Much has been made of the support of Vietnam-era veterans -- or at least an outspoken subset of them -- for the candidacy of John Kerry. Less has been written of the potential impact that returning veterans of the war in Iraq will have on the Presidential election (although I did write about it here, in a post otherwise discussing the big troop rotation).

I believe that 120,000 returning veterans will have a very significant impact on local media coverage all around the country, and that they will persuade a lot of voters at the margin that the Iraq war was worth the effort notwithstanding the failure to find the WMD, the continuing terrorism, and the quite mixed planning for the post-war management of the country. Here is an example from the online edition of the Vindicator, a Youngstown, Ohio newspaper. Money quote:

[Quentin] Emerich said he can't understand why the war has been such a controversial issue. He said President Bush made the right decision sending U.S. troops to remove Saddam, whom Emerich called the most dangerous man in the world.

"For anybody to think it wasn't right to go over there and get him, they're blind. He was worse than Hitler," said Emerich, relaxing in his Woodview Place home, where he lives with his father and stepmother, William and Renee Emerich.

My guess is that hundreds, if not thousands, of these stories will be running in local papers during the next two months as the troops come home. I speculate that the great majority of these stories will read a lot like this one, and that they will have the broad effect of lowering the anxiety that middle America feels about the Iraq war.


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