On Al Franken, Robert McNamara, and Running Against Joe Lieberman

Three things I would like to post here:

One is to offer congratulations to my friend and one-time TV colleague Al Franken, now Senator Franken, for the patience, savvy and perseverance that he has shown in defeating Norm Coleman and winning the US Senate seat in Minnesota. Al is a smart, hardworking man whose fine mind will go a long way toward serving the people of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Second is that I wish to mark the death of Robert McNamara, who I portrayed in the HBO mini-series Path to War, starring Michael Gambon as LBJ. The project was the last film directed by the great John Frankenheimer. Frankenheimer steered me toward several sources in order to research the role. Richard Holbrooke offered good advice. Halberstam's relatively brief section on McNamara proved helpful. Many people believe that "McNamara's War" was an anomaly of sorts, specific to the end of the Cold War period. That was the beginning of America learning the terrible lessons about the true cost of projecting US military power around the globe without a defined mission. In Southeast Asia, the Pentagon learned, to its dismay, that there are nations that have no interest in Western-style democracy and are willing to fight and die for that belief as well.

I have watched the news recently, bobbing for air in the flood of coverage of Michael Jackson's death, unnerved as to how the war in Iraq seemed to just shut off on TV, as if someone threw a switch. Now Americans are fighting in Afghanistan and the names of the cities there are in the bylines of the reporters. A trillion dollars will likely have been spent on the Iraq war by the time it is truly "over." And, like Vietnam, for nothing. A trillion dollars to execute Saddam. A trillion dollars to create a hatred of our country that will live in the souls of Iraqis for generations to come. And while neocons here at home decry Obama's fiscal policies and how he is burning through US debt like no other and how he must be insane for even considering a health care policy that costs any money, think of where that trillion, or any part of it, might have gone.

Robert McNamara, the architect of the US escalation in Vietnam, circa August 1964, is dead and the real tragedy is that the leaders at the Pentagon have learned absolutely nothing since then. Iraq. Another costly war, particularly in terms of the lives of brave servicemen and women, for nothing.

Lastly, no I am not moving to Connecticut to run against Joe Lieberman. As much as I think Lieberman is an enormous letdown to the party that gave him their nomination for Vice President, I am sure that Democratic Party leaders in that state will take care of themselves.

Running for public office involves among the most sacred trusts that one can enter into and I would like to give that a lot of serious thought before I decide if that is right for me and the voters I would potentially serve.