Monday, June 23, 2008

It Should Be Easy Pickin's, But....

If I were a right-wing columnist, fresh out of ideas on what to complain about today, I might say to myself, "What's MoveOn been up to lately?" Then I make fun of it, and I'm done. It should be easy, right?
I was having trouble putting my finder on just why until I came across a post by a mother of a soldier recently deployed in Iraq, at the Web site
I was having a little bit of trouble putting my finder finger on what was wrong with that sentence, then I realized... Kristol doesn't even proofread his own work. He's entirely reactive, presents no new ideas, and mostly regurgitates Republican talking points. He's blogging for the New York times, for an easy six figures per year. But, okay... he's picking on MoveOn, they do things that are easy to pick on, so a typo should be about the worst defect in his column, right?
The ad is simple. A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:
“Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”
Take that, warmonger!

Now it might be pedantic to point out that John McCain isn’t counting on Alex to serve in Iraq, because little Alex will only be 9 years old when President McCain leaves office after two terms.
"Pedantic"? Does Kristol know the meaning of the word? The ad uses hyperbole, sure, but is it necessary for Kristol to pretend to be stupid? The reference is to McCain's willingness to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely - long after the end of his presidency. It's explicitly stated. Although Kristol yammers for a while about what McCain supposedly meant with his 100 years in Iraq comment, the fact remains - the ad doesn't suggest that there will be a century of active warfare, and is entirely consistent with McCain's comments. And McCain has yet to explain the magic by which Iraq will be transformed from its current state of active warfare to a peaceful idyll where U.S. troops are posted to protect its borders from potentially hostile neighbors. (If the Maliki government holds, Iran seems more likely an ally to Iraq than a potential invader.)

Kristol carries on,
But it is surely relevant to point out that the United States has an all-volunteer Army. Alex won’t be drafted, and his mommy can’t enlist him. He can decide when he’s an adult whether he wants to serve. And, of course, McCain supports the volunteer army.
Sure, we have an all volunteer military. We also have Selective Service, "just in case" we change our minds. Kristol is seriously promising that the United States will never again have a draft, no matter what the circumstances, at any time in the future? My goodness, where can I get one of those rose-colored Kristol crystal balls?

And then Kristol devolves into self-parody:
Here’s what the mother of an actual soldier has to say about the remarks of the mother of the prospective non-soldier in the ad:
“Does that mean that she wants other people’s sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world? ... Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere.”
This is the sober truth. Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we’re not entering any such world.
It's too easy. Kristol came of age during the Vietnam war. When did he serve, again? How respectful is Kristol of actual war veterans?

Can you even imagine young Billy sitting at the dinner table with Irving (who, it is fair to note, did serve in the military) and saying, "Dad, I want to join the military to serve my nation against the communist menace." No, like Dick Cheney and so many of his right-wing, war cheerleading peers, Kristol had "other priorities". They didn't serve, their children don't serve, but they put forth a jingoistic pro-military face in public while privately regarding military service as beneath them. And it is thus in defense of self, not nation, that Kristol adds,
We do, however, live in a free country with a volunteer army. In the United States, individuals can choose to serve in the military or not. The choice not to serve should carry no taint, nor should it be viewed with the least prejudice. If Alex chooses to pursue other opportunities, he won’t be criticized by John McCain or anyone else.
I disagree. If you are going to champion wars, sending other people's kids off to fight in wars, and whinge that others view the sacrifice of soldiers as "unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past"1, I think you should be able to point to at least one tiny incident in your life where you demonstrated a modicum of physical courage. Otherwise, at least have the rhetorical courage to admit that your life choice involves having other people go off to fight and die in the wars you champion, with no consequence to yourself or your family, and you like it that way.
1. Kristol attacks the ad:
The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.
Although the ad is critical of the Iraq War and McCain's Iraq policy, there's actually nothing in the ad that is even slightly critical of the military or of military service. That part's all Bill.

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