A reader responds to this riveting exchange:
Although watching the debate was maddening - I am squeamish when it comes to two respected men arguing over one another - it was revealing. A viewer could easily see the place where these arguments currently live. This may best be illustrated towards the end when Webb gives the clear evidence (polling) of military personnel's unhappiness with the policy and war in general. Graham's only response - "Why do they keep going back?" My jaw nearly hit the floor! Nevermind that desertion rates have skyrocketed or that enrollment in antiwar groups for both soldiers and their families over the last few months has boomed, the sheer misunderstanding that a soldier simply knows what his duty/orders are and he reports is mind boggling. It does not matter what his personal feelings are, he follows orders. However, as these orders become more and more unreasonable (or just plain beyond understanding), soldiers and their families are speaking out in droves. Another very telling point in the debate occurs when Graham says that Iranians are in Iraq killing Americans.
Which, no doubt, is true. However, you can hear Webb say that there are more Saudis in Iraq than Iranians. This is an inconvenient fact for the administration, which passed without comment from both Graham (who had no retort) and Russert (who is spineless). As the debate continued, it was very telling to see Graham fall back on many of the old tired one liners that have, in many cases, been completely discredited and Webb who was frequently looking at his notes so he would not get his facts wrong. To me, that may be what this is boiling down to: an emotional argument that is constantly changing, crafted to get an immediate and forceful emotional response vs. a much less exciting, sober argument that is based on the continual stream of facts that shows the fallacy of the emotional argument. Unfortunately, the emotion is digested so much easier than the facts.