Brooks Boliek: Ken Burns's 'War' docu blurs lines of history, today's news





Once again, this city is divided into two camps:. those of us who watched "The War" and those of us who didn't.

I found myself among the hardworking, patriotic, loyal Americans who watched "The War." I wouldn't want to be "those other people."

President Bush once said that those other people cut and run. I don't want to do that. I've been accused of being too subtle a voice, so I don't want to put too fine a point on it. I'll just call them America-hating cowards.

AHCs aside, I was so hooked on Ken Burns' documentary "The War," I knew I would watch every installment. It became something of a soap opera in my house. My 12-year-old son, West, would demand to be filled in on the parts he missed -- who died, who lived, where they were. I thought about taking notes.

Everywhere I went in my travels around town, people would divide themselves into two groups -- us and the AHCs. Somehow, the AHCs always said they "meant" to watch the documentary but something got in the way. They always sounded guilty about it, too.

It was an awfully strange feeling watching the bullets and bombs, the broken and mangled bodies in some far-away place with some unpronounceable name in the docu after watching each night's newscasts. I felt like there were two of me: one worrying about our troops on Guadalcanal and the other worrying about our troops in Salahuddin.

There's the "fog of war," and then there is what we have in Washington: the "smog of war." No matter what happens in Washington, the Iraq War overshadows it like a noxious cloud. In the bowels of policyland, we might be arguing about performance royalties or indecency rules, but that all pales by comparison. Thanks to the film by Burns and Lynn Novick, we have two wars. No waiting....


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