Now that President Obama seems intent upon betraying his paramount campaign promise—to withdraw American military might from Iraq—one tireless defender of the president has finally had enough: He intends to burn every scrap of Obama paraphernalia he owns.
His name is Adrian Madriz, and he happens to be a good friend of mine from college. We were undergraduates at the University of Michigan during the 2008 campaign, and no one was more dedicated to Obama's cause than Adrian. He was the prototypical activist, always clad in a "Change We Can Believe In" T-shirt while wearing a "Yes We Can" campaign button and carrying a voter registration sign-up sheet. When Obama came to speak at U-M for our 2010 graduation ceremony, Adrian was overjoyed.
Over the years, Adrian has defended Obama's vision while disagreeing with some of his policies. But last week, my friend reached his breaking point:
But then you did something last week that I can no longer… contain my cognitive dissonance about. You decided to start a military operation in Iraq.
The issue of Iraq, President Obama, is what made you you. That is why people voted for you in 2008 over Hilary Clinton and John Edwards. That was the reason we knew you had a grasp, a real good hold on foreign policy. It gave us the reason to hope for a better American future.
A few weeks ago, I made a statement on social media that if we went to war with Iraq for a fourth time, the only pictures of you that I would post on my Facebook would be of me burning everything I owned that bore your name.
Because I was blessed to have you speak at my graduation, I will also have to burn things like my graduation cap, because the association that I have with you from that day is so strong.
True to his word, Adrian began with his copy of Obama's official Senate portrait. (It goes up in flames as the Foo Fighters song "My Hero" plays in the background.) The spurned activist plans to burn everything he owns with any connection to Obama over the next 51 days—the deadline to seek a Congressional declaration of war under the War Powers Act.
This anecdote may seem melodramatic to some. I mention it as a reminder that Obama's opposition to the Iraq War was not some inconsequential, easily set-aside campaign promise: It was the defining issue of the 2008 campaign and the Obama candidacy. It was the primary reason that young people flocked to Obama—and why, on the Republican side, they flocked to anti-war libertarian Ron Paul.
For those of us who never really expected Obama to wind the clock back on ceaseless military interventionism, the last six years have been an unfortunate vindication. But it's worth remembering that an electoral army of anti-war millennials wanted and expected Obama to withdraw from Iraq completely. And he burned them.