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Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Toby Keith, hearteningly, is feeling a bit ambiguous about the war (non-subscription text here):

Away from the firepower of the stage, this fighting man from Oklahoma said that he has decided to call a cease-fire in his ugly feud with the Dixie Chicks ("We had fun with it, but I'm just done with it"), that he still has lingering questions about the necessity of the war in Iraq ("Honestly, I'm still doing the math on that") and that he wonders whether the hit song, "(Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue) The Angry American," has typecast him ("People think I bang the war drum, and that's not me").

"Look, my stance is I pick and choose my wars. This war here [in Iraq], the math hasn't worked out for me on it. But I'm smart enough to know there's people smarter than me. [National security advisor] Condoleezza Rice, [Secretary of State] Colin Powell, George Bush — this is their job, and I have to trust in them. I support the commander in chief and the troops."

Keith took a long pause to consider his words, and then added: "I was for Afghanistan, 100%. We got struck and the Taliban needed to be exterminated, but this war here, in Iraq, I didn't necessarily have it all worked out. It didn't work out for me. I know a tyrant is gone and all of that, but whether it was our duty to go do that, well, I haven't figured that out."

But as I've asked before, how can an artist communicate this ambiguity to his audience without losing them? It's a hard proposition, and I think I have more sympathy for Toby than other people do.