Intel Dump‘s Phil Carter and I went to dinner last night; it’s something we’d been talking about doing for a year and not gotten around to, but when I got word of his impending deployment I emailed him and simply said “When and where?”
We met in Santa Monica, at the ‘Library Ale House’ on Main Street; and after a few Anchor Steams (him) and Jamaica Red Ales (me) managed to lay out the problems in the world. We may have even solved a few, but for the life of me I can’t remember exactly how.
Phil is in person exactly what he seems online. Thoughtful, smart, funny, reflective. Even when we disagree – which happens seldom, but happens – I find myself happy to be involved in a dialog with him because I know we’re engaged in the same project – trying to solve the problems we say we’re trying to solve because we’re in them together, rather than using the problems and arguments as a level to elbow one another aside.
Then we had a funny thing happen…For those of you not from Los Angeles, please understand that if the Blue states have a beating heart, it’s located within a block of where we were eating. I’d bet serious money that Chirac would easily beat Bush in an election held there, and that “W-’04” bumperstickers are only found on the trucks of the tradesmen doing work there.
A guy walked up to us, excused himself, and said “Pardon me, but you just look really familiar to me. Did we know each other in Iraq? I was in Mosul.”
Phil and I looked at each other, surprised, and Phil explained that no, he hadn’t been there yet, but would be within 90 days. Our visitor (and I’m kicking myself and apologizing for not noting down his name) explained that he’d been injured when an IED flipped his vehicle, and had come home to have orthopedic surgery and recover.
Phil and I wished him well, and thanked him for his service. He’d been in for 15 years, and wasn’t sure what he would be doing next. We suggested that getting better ought to be the first step, and then all kinds of possibilities would open up.
We all shook hands and he left with his fiancee.
Phil then pointed something out to me that I hadn’t thought about until then.
Five years from now, guy like this – Iraq veterans – are going to be an incredibly powerful interest group. Neither of us would be surprised to see them start running for office in significant numbers (note that Blackfive already points to one who says he will). And that has some serious and interesting implications for the Democrats if they continue to be painted as the antimilitary party, and for the Republicans if they don’t back up their pro-troops rhetoric with serious veterans services.
And in case you’re wondering, of course I bought.