Sunday, November 23, 2003
Ambivalence, War and Middle America
When asked in a recent interview, about whether he could have served had he not mentioned the condition, Dean was quoted as saying, "I guess that's probably true," he said. "I mean, I was in no hurry to get into the military." How is this different than the ambivalent comments from Bush on his lack of service?
The majority of Americans do not trust Democrats on military or national security issues. Democrats wake up! Bush and the Republicans have handed us a golden opportunity. If we nominate a Democrat who is a decorated veteran with extensive foreign policy experience, we can neutralize this issue and repair our image long-term. If we put another candidate who is perceived as an anti-war liberal, not only do we miss an opportunity, but we re-enforce Democrat's image as weak on the military for generations to come. A Dean nomination gives the Republicans middle-America for the next twenty years.
Some of my more urban friends have a hard time reconciling how I (from a historical perspective) could be against the Vietnam, but have an intense dislike those who took such a lackadaisical attitude toward serving. Growing up in a military town in the South, you would have never questioned going to a war if your country asked you to do so. Whether or not it is right, it was expected.
If Vietnam occurred in my generation, I would have to choose either to dodge the draft or go to war. Lower middle-class Southern kids white or black (especially in that era) didn’t get opportunities handed to them on silver platters to hide out in the national guard, get medical exemptions, or even college deferments. We become cannon fodder in disproportionate numbers.
Why does Middle America respect veterans? They know if a candidate served in war, the candidate will not take lightly the responsibility of sending boys to die in foreign wars, but will not hesitate if the need is weighty enough or the cause just.
In my own generation, if I had not been able to bounce a basketball consequentially getting a scholarship to university, the military would have been the only viable option for me to get out and ahead in life.
I believe one of the old proverbs say (highly paraphrased) to “either be hot or cold, not lukewarm or you will be regurgitated.” In other words, whether you went like Kerry or protested like Clinton at least you took a stand. Kerry came back a changed soul and was one of the most effective voices against the war. I’d have more respect for Dean (if like Clinton) he hadn’t been skiing, but was out protesting a war he so easily got out of having to serve in... How could anyone of substance intentional miss the most polarizing issue of your generation?