Saturday, September 29, 2007
For the left, the Iraq war nightmare is still yet to come.
By Christopher Cook
During the 2002 elections, Democrats became what Ann Coulter, in her book How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must), colorfully called "jock-sniffers for war veterans." First among these vets was Senator Max Cleland, Democrat from Georgia. In an election cycle that was---in spite of what some push-pollers tried to engineer---NOT looking good for Democrats, they needed all the help they could get. Holding on to Cleland's seat in the heart of the once-reliably Democratic South was crucial.
The Democrats were well aware that, post-1968 at least, their record with the people on military matters was spotty at best. They knew that many of the people who currently make up their base today were, in their younger years, the same people who helped engineer a loss in Vietnam. Some of those people even spat on returning soldiers and called them "baby-killers." As we moved into the 80s, the Democrats became ever-more dovish, going so far as to oppose the sensible notion of developing missile defense systems to protect the United States from incoming Soviet ICBMs, while simultaneously suggesting that the USSR would have to be accommodated, because it could not possibly be defeated. As their credibility on foreign policy and military matters continued to wane, responsible voices like that of Scoop Jackson became increasingly rare (to the point where today, Joe Lieberman may be the only one left, and he was essentially ousted from the Party in 2006).
Then, President Clinton came on the scene. Not only was he the first president since FDR not to have served in the military himself, but his personal dislike for the military was generally known by the average American. He was widely considered a draft-dodger. He was known to have written that he "loathed" the military. His disdain for national security generally was the subject of debate, caricature, and even books by direct eyewitnesses.
This image of a draft-dodging, pot-smoking, military-loathing Commander-in-Chief ---who appeared occasionally to be using the military to distract from his domestic problems, and who didn't even know how to salute properly---did not help the Democrats' already-tainted image on military matters.
Then, after three decades of this sliding image, the post-Clinton Democrats finally came up with a solution: Continue to oppose military spending, military deployments, and the development of military equipment, but tell everyone how much you love and support the troops.
In 2002, Senator Cleland was the poster-child for this strategy. Not only was he a Vietnam veteran, but he had lost two legs and an arm in a grenade accident, placing him permanently in a wheelchair. Democrats and their fellow travelers in the press set to work sexing-up the nature of his grenade accident, so that people would believe it had happened under enemy fire. It did not (it actually occurred when Cleland was on his way to drink a few beers with friends near Khe Sanh), but that did not stop the press from fabricating out of whole cloth a series of tales about how he had received his injuries in combat. (Ann Coulter dispositively---and rather brutally---destroys these claims in How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).)
It should go without saying that all good Americans should thank Cleland for his service and his sacrifice, no matter how his specific injuries occurred, and this author would tell him so in person, given the chance. But that's not the point here. The point is that after three decades, the Democrats had finally found a way to burnish their image on military matters: Pick a veteran who agrees with them on the substance of a military issue, and then play up the fact of his service as cover for that position. To us, sexing up Cleland's injuries is a distasteful display of dishonesty and gamesmanship, one that dishonors a record that should be honored. To the Democrats---who are still not quite sure how this whole military honor thing works anyways---it's just more smoke to cover their reflexively anti-military (and usually unpopular) positions.
Enter John Kerry. After the Commander-in-Chief who didn't even know how to salute correctly, Senator Kerry was, in the Democrats' view, a gift as a presidential candidate. George W. Bush had "only" served in the National Guard, whereas Kerry was a veteran of combat in Vietnam. For the Democrats, it didn't matter that Kerry had also thrown his someone else's medals to the ground in an anti-war protest...confabulated a tale of a secret Christmas Eve trip into Cambodia with a CIA officer and a magic hat...and made baseless accusations that his fellow soldiers were committing atrocities and war crimes. It didn't matter that his voting record in the Senate on intelligence and military matters was to the left of Senator Kennedy's. Nope. The Dems had their war veteran---the American people were supposed to shut up and accept this as a sign of their strength on national security matters.
It also---or so they thought---inoculated Kerry against criticism.
Just like they had done during Cleland's Senate race, they tried to convince the American people that GOP opposition to Kerry on policy matters was tantamount to a slander against the military, since he himself was a vet. In a disturbing---and yet laughably textbook---display of projection, the Democrats were trying to project their own distaste for the military onto others. See, they're against a veteran! We're not against the military, THEY ARE.
Next came Jack Murtha. Running with shaky information written by anti-war leftist journalists, Rep. Murtha accused Marines in Iraq of atrocities and war crimes at Haditha. (The case is ongoing, but it's noteworthy that several of the accused have already been exonerated.) This deeply disgusting display---a member of the House of Representatives of the United States, in the advance of any convictions or hard evidence, accusing the soldiers of his own country of war crimes---was off-limits for criticism....because Murtha himself had served. This, they thought, should shield Murtha from criticism, and they used him to give their anti-war, anti-military positions more cover. See, the Iraq war is a mistake. Our soldiers are baby-killers. A veteran said so!
Apparently (their senses of irony having been surgically removed at birth) they don't realize that using a soldier as the vehicle to accuse other soldiers of war crimes does very little to attenuate the general contemptuousness inherent in the accusation.
During this same period, the "chickenhawk" meme developed on the left. Usually employed by bloggers, activists, and some pundits, it's a new tool in this bag of tricks. The technique is simple: If someone supports the war or criticizes the positions of an opponent of the war, don't deal with the substance, just ask if that person served in the military. Unless the answer is yes, that person's viewpoint is (in the view of the person slinging the "chickenhawk" epithet, at least) discredited.
Well, as the Bard said, what is past is prologue. The era of the Democrats being "jock sniffers for war veterans" is coming to a close.
The hostility towards the ROTC on campuses is heating up again, with a number of incidents of vandalism having occurred in recent months.
Democrat politicians are starting to let the mask fall, such as with Senator Schumer's recent slur against the troops in Al Anbar.
The Hollywood left (which, having lived and worked in Hollywood, I can tell you is mostly left) is pumping out more and more brazen examples of the standard military-slurring films. In the last few years, however, they've also begun departing from their regular fare of "supporting" the troops by portraying them as dysfunctional, broken, war-addled victims to making films that directly portray them as war criminals.
Most recently, the left---including their putative favorite for '08, Hillary Clinton---called General Petraeus, the commander of our forces in Iraq, a liar. This, after the beating heart of their ideology, the Soros-funded MoveOn.org, called this general, a decorated and honorable servant of his country, a traitor in an ad in the New York Times. An ad for which the Times charged them a reduced rate. An ad that most Democrats could not bring themselves to oppose, even in a non-binding, Sense-of-the-Senate amendment.
For many months now, I have been pointing these things out, and each time, I have said, don't believe their "we support the troops but not their mission" drivel---it's just a smokescreen, and it won't last. And sure enough, that is coming to pass.
But folks, we haven't seen anything yet.
There's a new class of soldiers being made now, on the battlefields of Iraq. Let's talk a little about them, because in the upcoming decade, they are going to drive the left to levels of military-hatred that we've not seen since Vietnam.
•They are, contrary to the left's claims, not disproportionally poor. In fact, they come from higher-income backgrounds than the general American populace.
•They are also, contrary to the left's claims, not poorly educated. They have a higher average education level than the general populace.
•They are also, contrary to the left's claims, not overwhelmingly minorities, desperate to find a way out of poverty and despair. They represent, in relative demographic proportions, all of the ethnic groups of the United States. If there is any disproportional representation, it is regional: the south, midwest, and interior west have sent a greater share of their sons and daughters than the northeast or west coast. (Note that that also mirrors the red-state/blue-state divide in this country; make of that what you will.)
•They are mostly young men and women today, growing up on the battlefields of Iraq. In comparison to the average of their peers back home, they are far more responsible, clear-headed, accomplished, and even wise. They are becoming, each and every one of them, a leader in his or her own right.
•They comprise a smaller percentage of the total populace than has fought in America's previous wars. They are fighting and dying for a populace that has not had to sacrifice the way Americans have in the past. They love America and would die for their families, and all of us, to be free. Yet, at the same time, they realize that the average American is not as invested in this war as we were in the past. As one of them penned on a whiteboard in a Marine installation, "America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war. America is at the mall."
•They are fighting and dying in a cause they believe they can win. They are, contrary to the left's propaganda, regularly thanked and welcomed by Iraqis (though to varying degrees based on location, circumstance, and date). They know they are fighting for the Iraqi people's future as well as America's security. They know the nobility and necessity of their cause. They are reenlisting in numbers that exceed retention goals, in spite of long tours and harsh conditions. They do this because they know the truth. They know the good they've done, and they know that with support from home, they can win.
•And they know that support is exactly what they are not getting. Contrary to the picture painted by the left, they are not a bunch of stupid jarheads, victims of Bush's war at best and war criminals at worst. They are smart and savvy, and they see exactly what is going on. They see the media fibricating™ a picture of Iraq that fits an agenda, but not the facts on the ground. They hear the things that are said about them by Democrat pundits and politicians. They watch as Congress plays games with their funding and their mission, all for political gain.
So, what is going to happen, as these soldiers begin to return home? Will returning back to America erase the memories of the serial betrayals, lies, and political gamesmanship of the Democrats and the media, all done at the expense of the soldiers and their mission? Will they forget about their comrades who died, who might have lived had the enemy not been emboldened by the weakness they perceived on the American home-front?
Guess what, Democrats. These young men and women are going to be coming home. They're going to be armed with the knowledge, responsibility, wisdom, and leadership ability they gained in the military. They're not going to forget what happened on the home front, and they won't forget which side of the political spectrum did it to them.
And they're going to be running for office.
It'll be just a few at first, but their numbers will grow as more return home and get settled.
They are the next generation of America's leaders, and unlike the 60s set, they did not grow up smoking doobies, dodging the draft, and generally setting about the task of eroding the foundations of civilization.
They will not be Democrats, by and large. They have been steeled by the fire of combat, and after jihadis, IEDs, scorpions, and 130 degree heat, they will be eating their Democrat opponents for breakfast.
Take a good look, baby-boomers....your time is coming to an end. The soldiers are coming home, they know what you did last summer, and they'll be taking over now, thank you very much.
Oo look, here's one now! And, not only will he soon be taking on the Democrats, he's now taking on a corrupt, old-guard Republican in the primary.
Generations turn. The old guard surrenders to the new. It is the way of things. There are even a few old Republicans who need to---and will---move aside sooner rather than later. But by-and-large, this new generation is going to be gunning for Democrats, and over the next decades, a lot is going to change.
Don't expect the Democrats to go quietly, or to pass the torch with a smile. These soldiers represent not only the face of everything they've hated for thirty years, they also represent the face of their electoral doom.
Imagine the Democrats' hatred for all things military as a seething, roiling liquid contained in a cast-iron cauldron. Six years ago or so, they put a lid on that cauldron, hoping to conceal the angry stew within.
Now, imagine that lid being blown off forcefully, by an explosion of fermenting rage, and you're beginning to get a picture of what's going to happen.
..now with "cold_blooded" Murtha going to court..I pray I live long enough to witness the procession..