The new year started with two disparate and problematic stories, at least for me. One was a front-page piece in the New York Times about nine murders committed by servicemen stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., after they had returned from multiple tours in Iraq. The other was an op-ed by Karl Rove, President Bush's political guru, on his and the president's heartfelt attachment to those serving in the conflicts.
At Fort Carson, the commanding general has stepped up a program of treating returnees who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after their experiences in the war zones.
These nine killings were at just one military post.
In addition, there was a sharp increase at Fort Carson last year in the number of rapes and incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Gen. Mark Graham, the post commander, wants to find any information that will track this violent behavior before it occurs.
His dedication to the issue is understandable.
His own son was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq a year after another son committed suicide.
Was any of this thought through by the president and his war council before what they felt was going to be an easy post-triumph situation in Iraq? Even though violence is currently down and the Iraqis have assumed control, some U.S. troops will be there until the end of 2011 at least.
Many of those troops in Iraq will be moving on to Afghanistan, where more trouble has erupted in a country we left before the job was finished. Such was the eagerness to invade Iraq.
The concern of many is that this post-traumatic stress problem will be with us for many years to come. No one can be certain when a regular or a National Guardsman could erupt after seeing so much mayhem on multiple tours of duty.
In Karl Rove's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the so-called political mastermind has a touching story of President Bush and first lady Laura Bush's generosity toward Navy SEALs, and an especially touching one of a wounded SEAL eager to return to action with his unit. The headline of the January 2 article was "Let's Be Worthy of Their Sacrifice."
Rove, who has never worn the uniform of his country, apparently wants to reassure us that the soon-to-be-former president feels the pain of fatalities and the wounded. No one should doubt it, as presidents before Bush have anguished over losses.
Rove offered eloquent words of respect and gratitude for "those who put themselves in harm's way for our nation."
I can share that same respect but remain critical of the man ultimately responsible for putting them in harm's way for so long.
In recent interviews and op-eds, Rove has been on an obvious mission to polish Bush's legacy. He's entitled if he chooses, but so are those of us who think the president's legacy will be tarnished in large part by the wars and their aftermath.
(As the president prepares to return to his home in Dallas in a matter of days, my New Year's resolution is to leave him alone. No more ranting from me in his direction.)
(But I do not rule out the same for Rove. The political consultant is now a journalist of sorts with his opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and other publications.)
His opinions are fair game, as are mine.
On Bill Richardson:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's decision to withdraw his name from consideration as secretary of commerce may be only a blip, but it shows some degree of sloppiness by the Obama vetters and will delight conservatives looking for flaws in the run-up to the inauguration.