How did the Dems who fought in the wars and oversaw WW2 come to be seen as incapable of defense? (With an off-point lead on the Marine Corp.)
Last night I set out to make a pot of soup to get us through the blizzard forecast for this weekend. While I chopped and shredded, I flicked on the telly to watch PBS News Hour, pausing as I always do when the names and the photos of the American troops most recently killed in Iraq silently appear, then fade from the screen. I try to look at each face, notice the age and home town, and imagine what it would be like to dig out a photo of one of my children for this heartbreaking moment of acknowledgement. And I find myself saying aloud to each one, "I'm so sorry."
I'm aware that this is a paltry gesture in the face of grievous loss, but with the gubmint unwilling to publicly mourn our war dead, we each have to construct our own thin memorials. Read on.
The PBS show that followed was about the US Marines -- their history, training and traditions -- and in light of the faces I'd just seen, and the heap o' chopping still to be done, I found myself watching it.
The first images of those young sleepy-eyed boys stepping off of the bus in the middle of the night, drill sergeants barking orders at them, gave me a lump in the throat. I shuddered at the screaming, the belittling treatment, and wondered if I'd seen any of those same faces at the end of the News Hour. And yet just about anyone who's raised teen-agers knows there are times when you wished for a drill sergeant to kick their insouciant behinds into gear. And, I think, at times the insouciant ones wish for it too. For most people, structure and discipline are easier to live with than chaos, at least until inner discipline matures and takes hold.
So what is it that draws some young people to put themselves into such a rigorous and rigid -- and in many ways, dehumanizing -- way of life?
The answers were, for the most part, what I expected. For some there was a heightened sense of patriotism, for others a fascination with "warrior" culture, and for others a desire to push themselves to their absolute limits.
But the over-arching appeal seemed to be the sense of belonging; to live under a strict code and to bond via shared hardships. As one young enlistee put it, to belong to "the most tough-ass gang there is." And my unexpected reaction as a peace-lovin' sort of gal was a grudging respect for how the Marines do that.
Before you tell me all that's wrong with the Marines, let me get to my point. (It's here somewhere.)
The retired Marines in this show, some with the stereotypical steely eyes and flat-tops you'd expect, all spoke of the need for having the smartest, best-trained, and most honor-bound men (and yes, a few good women) fight our wars, if we must have wars.
But each also noted the utter lack of romance in the reality of war, and said that anyone who's ever been in a war does NOT want to send anyone else into one.
Which, of course, brings to mind our current Commander-in-Chief and his blackguard Vice-Chief, who both cut-and-run when they were called to serve.
I won't linger on this as it's old news, but the retired Marines' point seems to be born out, at least in recent history, by Democrats like George McGovern, Wes Clark, John Kerry and Max Cleland, all anti-war "warriors" in the lexicon of the Marines.
So how did these Democrats who fought the wars come to be seen as the ones who are soft on terror, and the ones who ducked the war be seen as the ones to fight it, at least long enough to bambooze a nation into re-electing them?
Just like we allowed Karl Rove and his cronies to paint us into the corner of being anti-family (while an uncanny number of them are single with no children, or working on their third marriages), somehow we've allowed them to portray us as "not getting" the threat of terrorism.
Well, we do get it.
' We get it that George Bush's biggest foreign policy blunder in history has increased the rage towards America and made us more at risk.
' We get it that the instability he's created in Iraq and the mideast makes the consequences of pulling out of Iraq almost certainly catastrophic, matched only by the catastrophe of staying in.
' We get it that bin Laden is flourishing -- somewhere, and that new Al Q'aeda training camps are sprouting up in Pakistan.
' We get it that we are still woefully weak at home, with efforts at Homeland security floundering and underfunded.
' We get it that we have stretched our troops so thin in Iraq that we have put our capacity to respond on any other front, including the home front, at risk.
' We get it that by miring us in Iraq, by keeping detainees in Gitmo with no recourse, by allowing torture and suspending Constitutional guarantees, George Bush and Dick Cheney have stripped us of the moral authority to lead by example.
' We get it that we need to be vigilant and defend ourselves from future attacks, even if it requires military action.
It's not the war on terror we oppose; it's the stupids who are running the war on terror. We'd rather listen to those who have been to war and not those who are delusional about it.
Soft on terror? No, we want to be smart on terror, with all the diplomatic, political and economic fire power at our disposal, to paraphrase Wes Clark.
Coming soon. How Republican patriots treat our veterans.