11 Days …

… (or is it 10?) until the election. How will it go? I haven’t the faintest idea, though I made an impulsive bet during a brief fit of optimism yesterday that Kerry will win. It’s interesting, in any case, to watch the projected electoral vote total sway first one way, then the other; if you look at that, the race looks like it’s balanced on a knife’s edge; a repeat of 2000. And maybe it is, and will be.

But more interesting to me is a brief foray into a conservative blog I’ve long avoided: Andrew Sullivan’s. I’m not proud of having avoided it; but I’ve felt I could do without the aggravation of watching someone clever manufacture clever arguments to explain how what Bush is doing to the United States — the war, the erosion of civil liberties in the name of the state, the fear mongering, the naked embrace of fundamentalist Christianity as a guiding principle for government — is good for us. But today, I hit a link to Sullivan’s site, and was surprised to see that he — and some other thinking conservatives — have turned on Bush because of the Iraq disaster.

Here’s one representative post from Sullivan, in which he first quotes a Thomas Friedman (New York Times) column at length, then adds a brief mea culpa of his own:

“Conservatives profess to care deeply about the outcome in Iraq, but they sat silently for the last year as the situation there steadily deteriorated. Then they participated in a shameful effort to refocus the country’s attention on what John Kerry did on the rivers of Vietnam 30 years ago, not on what George Bush and his team are doing on the rivers of Babylon today, where some 140,000 American lives are on the line. Is this what it means to be a conservative today?

Had conservatives spoken up loudly a year ago and said what both of Mr. Bush’s senior Iraq envoys, Jay Garner and Paul Bremer, have now said (and what many of us who believed in the importance of Iraq were saying) – that we never had enough troops to control Iraq’s borders, keep the terrorists out, prevent looting and establish authority – the president might have changed course. Instead, they served as a Greek chorus, applauding Mr. Bush’s missteps and mocking anyone who challenged them.

Conservatives have failed their own test of patriotism. In the end, it has been more important for them to defeat liberals than to get Iraq right. Had Democrats been running this war with the incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld & Friends, conservatives would have demanded their heads a year ago – and gotten them.” – Tom Friedman, telling it like it is. I’m guilty as well. I was so intent on winning this war and so keen to see the administration succeed against our enemy that I gave them too many benefits of the doubt. Well, I have tried to reassess. I may be proven wrong. I hope I am. But ignoring reality in a situation as vital as this is not an option.

An important intellectual support for Bush and company looks like it’s collapsing. I wonder what effect it will have in the vote.