Monday, December 05, 2005

Fighting Dems

If you're reading this blog and easily offended by un-pc-like comments, I apologize in advance. This is a mini-rant.

Over the past several years I've watched the media, punditry, and voting public put soldiers and veterans on pedestals. Want to talk about the war? Talk to a veteran to get the low-down. Discuss President Bush? Get a war veteran on your show to either prove the President's patriotism, or do an effective smackdown. Want to win a seat in the Senate, let's get a war veteran to run. Throughout the media, it seems that there is a hushed respect and credibility that automatically comes to anyone who is or has been a soldier.

The TimesOnline:
One of the first things she said was: “Put me to work.” Despite losing her right leg at the hip and her left leg below the knee, she wants to fly again as a civilian or military pilot. But she also has high hopes of a new career.

Duckworth, 37, is one of a growing number of officers with impeccable patriotic credentials who are being encouraged by senior Democrats to try for Congress next year.

There are enough war veterans — at least nine — for them to have their own name: the fighting Democrats. Some are already on the hustings shaking hands, kissing babies and making a bid for the centre ground of American politics.
The Dems (but not limited to them) are jumping on the badwagon to find "good candidates" (read, vets) who can burnish the party's image as tough while catering to the vets-can-do-no-wrong mentality. Vets are the go-to folks for everything!

Mind you, I do think soldiers and vets deserve our respect. They take on a challenge that is often poorly rewarded monetarily and one that can put their lives in jeopardy. Often their work takes them away from family and friends, home and hearth. For these elements of the job description they deserve praise and a whole lot better support in terms of pay and benefits. But are their opinions, statements and leadership abilities any better than anyone elses?

I think I can make the case that in some instances, a vets opinion or leadership may be less valuable.

MCCAIN: I think he [John Murtha] has become too emotional and understandably so. He goes to funerals. He goes, as many of us do, out to Walter Reed, and he sees the price of war. And I think that that has had some effect on him…
I don't agree with McCain about John Murtha. Murtha is much more of a mouthpiece for the conservative military establishment than he is over-wrought about war. But McCain hits on an important point.

If you're on trial for vehicular manslaughter, would you want a juror to be someone objective? Or perhaps someone who is, say, the victims sister, or maybe a past victim? Do you want your President to be objective in a terrorist crisis, or someone whose daughter (as on the West Wing) has been kidnapped by terrorists? In short. Don't we want leaders and policy makers to be as clear headed and objective as possible? It seems to me that policy based in highly emotional response is often bad policy. Indeed, we're seeing some of that now is laws instituted right after the 911 attacks.

We get all twigged when a politician loses objectivity due to influence by a lobbyists, but then stand up and salute if a politician has been influenced by military service. Is John McCain the best guy in the world to be leading the fight against laws legalizing torture? In this case he happens to be on the right side of the issue. But suppose he testified that he believed torture actually worked, causing some Americans to give up valuable information to the VietCong? Because he's been a torture recipient, would it carry "more weight" in validating the administration position?

I want my leaders to be as objective and unemotional in policy analysis/creation as possible. It's an impossible standard to achieve, but when we create policy based on knee-jerk emotional responses, we tend to over-reach and regrettable results.


At 5:16 AM, Blogger Lynne said...

I understand your argument. The only reason I would prefer someone with military service... no, WAR service... is that that person would understand on a visceral level how horrific war is and would not be as inclined to drag us into one.
On the other hand, that someone may have enjoyed the smell of napalm in the morning....


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