Monday, November 06, 2006
Some Pre-Election-Day Thoughts
A lengthy post over at Blackfive got me thinking. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines of this country have been speaking out as never before, and, it seems, the vast majority of them are disgusted with the press coverage they're getting -- and similarly disgusted with the people elected to represent them.
This shocks me. Military folk stay out of politics in America, and that's the way it should be. But politics won't leave military folk alone, and it's getting to them.
Blackfive quotes a number of e-mails he's been getting, after asking for opinions from the troops:
From a US Army Infantry Sergeant First Class in Iraq:...First, the obvious, is the fact that when the enemy's propaganda matches the talking points of a political party, there is something wrong. The fact that so many, especially those in positions to influence voters (think MSM here), have no problem using enemy propaganda or will gleefully cover enemy activities while glossing over the hard, diligent work of their own military should be a giant red flag waving in the face of voters.
From a Marine Sergeant on his second tour Iraq:...People in the US who want to support the troops, who believe we are engaged in a war, and who recognize the long term consequences of failure need to look past all other issues and vote Republican. Democrats have no policy and can not be trusted. But, even worse, they display no apparent understanding of the dangers to our western civilization presented by the enemy. [...] Ironically, I say this, not as a Republican - (I am Libertarian) - but as a person who recognizes that islamicist fundamentalism is the single greatest threat to our western society in the modern era. I say this as an atheist. I say this as someone who is apalled by the anti-science bias of the Republican party. I say this as someone who doesn't give 2 shits about abortion, suppressing gay-rights, or activist judges. So, as you can tell, the majority of Republican issues are anathema to me, and I still fervently hope they retain control of the Govt.
From another US Marine in Iraq:...If the Democrats gain even a squeaker majority in the House, I strongly believe we will suffer greatly for it. The Jihadists here have been pulling out all the stops here just to affect the election. A Democrat victory in congress will validate their tactics, and spur them to push harder. [...] If the Republicans win, me and my fellows here will be allowed to continue doing our jobs. In time, all the hard work here will show, and we will win.
There's more, a lot more, over at Austin Bay's site:
I’ll add a personal story. In 1999 I briefly served as deputy commander of a Hurricane Mitch recovery operation headquartered in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. An earthquake (6.6 magnitude) struck the region and damaged our barracks area as well as several of the dikes our engineers had erected along the Motagua River. We had to evacuate our barracks, in the midst of heavy rains spawned by a tropical depression. The day after the quake I flew to the US air base at Soto Cano, Honduras, to meet with our regional commander. After I met with the brigadier general in command I: (1) washed and dried two sets of BDUs and (2) bought a bottle of Chivas at the PX. The next morning I caught a plane flight back to Guatemala, and transfered to a helicopter to fly back to our base.As Col. Bay points out, this was 1999, when John Kerry was not running for anything. But his comments before Congress, back in 1971, had cut deeply -- and still stung 28 years later. (The article as a whole is well worth your time; by all means, check it out.)
That night I took the still-boxed Chivas to one of the troops –a tired, exhausted fellow who had earned a gift so precious. He shook his head when I passed him the scotch. I told him, “You’ve earned it.” He looked at his watch, observed we were ten minutes from midnight, and said “You and I are now off duty.” I sipped a thumbs worth of scotch in my canteen cup (there is no more pleasureable a vessel for imbibing booze).
We chatted for about twenty minutes, about my trip to Soto Cano, about the task force’s new job (earthquake relief), about the lousy weather, about how tired we were. The discussion of weariness led the conversation to our advanced age and years of service, which in part explained the conversation’s next turn. My friend asked, with a glint in his eye: ”You remember what John Kerry said about those of us who served in Vietnam?”
“I was in Vietnam in 1971,” my buddy continued. “I didn’t commit any war crimes and I didn’t see any. Kerry said we were committing war crimes everywhere all the time.”
Remember, readers, this is 1999. We’re in a creaky barrack, wearing t-shirts, BDU trousers, and boots. Earthquake aftershocks occasionally boom –and the booms sound and feel like heavy artillery. And he mentions John Kerry.
“I despise the man,” my friend said. “He lied and benefited politically from his lies….He lied about me.”
So -- what conclusion do I draw from all this? Not that the Democrats have completely abandoned the American military, along with any of their own that still support the troops unreservedly (although we're getting closer to that point). Nor do I conclude that the troops feel completely abandoned by the Democrats (although it may seem that way) -- I recognize that Blackfive's e-mails don't really represent the broad cross-spectrum of military opinions.
But it does seem clear, as I've written before, that the Democratic Party no longer understands the military. (Their former standard-bearer utters a nasty insult, covering every American serving in Iraq -- quite a feat, actually -- and the Democratic Party never even sees fit to denounce the comment or the speaker! DNC Chairman Howard Dean said it was "an awful comment", but didn't think it was necessary to apologize in the name of his Party. Nor did the Democrats do anything of note to Sen. Kerry for his remarks, other than to tell him to keep his mouth shut until Tuesday.)
And this will only get worse. How many Americans in uniform today, having seen how the Democrats in power simply don't understand them, will come back to civilian life and join the Democratic Party?
If the Democrats need to realize that an important American viewpoint -- the military viewpoint -- is sorely lacking from nearly everything they say, and nearly everything they stand for. And if they have any sense at all, they'll recruit as many retired military personnel as they can... and listen to what they have to say.
But I don't see this happening any time soon. Both the Democratic Party -- and, in the long run, the country -- will suffer for this.