I'm very moved watching the election news from Iraq this evening, esp. the proud camaraderie of all those blue-inked fingers, which just yesterday seemed like they'd risk drawing attack. Events and people can surprise you sometimes. This doesn't make me feel any different about US policy, but in purely human terms it says a lot about what happens when the fear of losing your life gives way to a prospect larger than yourself alone (I guess this can be for the good or the bad, depending on whether you're a voter or a jihadist.). Even in Falluja, where turnout was expected to be in the 100s at best, out of the 20,000 people who returned to the town after the U.S. invasion (25% of the population) some 8000 or 40% reportedly voted. One video clip in particular made me almost want to cry, a Kurdish woman wiping away tears as she talked about her father, who had been killed under Saddam Hussein. The reporter asked what the voting had meant to her. "Freedom" she said after a short pause. "Happiness. Victory."
Of course it's not particularly fun to see George Bush so pumped up about the apparent vindication of his policies. He's so inhumanly smug about it, however, that I can feel perfectly justified in still hating him while letting him have his moment. If I feel irritation at any politician it's John Kerry, who appeared on Meet the Press this morning with a dyspeptic, shell shocked look on his face, like he'd eaten a bad clam. When asked by Tim Russert if voting had turned out differently than he expected, Kerry responded baldfacedly "It's turned out exactly as I expected," and then jumped on the issue of continued troop presence, pausing not even a moment to acknowledge the remarkable human spectacle unfolding in Iraq. Another example, actually, of the woodenness and lack of emotional immediacy that helped lose him the election.