Does anyone actually believe this crap?
Can you imagine the hue and cry if, say, progressives were equating writing blog entries with fighting in Iraq?
So why is it OK for conservatives to do so, especially those who are well within the age range of being able to serve?
In 2005, Max Blumenthal reported in The Nation on a convention of College Republicans. Here are some of the chickenhawks he spoke to who think giving lip service to supporting the Iraq war suffices for not serving:
I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he’s “sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain” and added, “This isn’t an invasion of Iraq, it’s a liberation–as David Horowitz said.” When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn’t want him to go. “They’re old hippies,” Kelley said.
“I know that I’m going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we’re there [in Iraq],” Hauser explained, pausing in thought. “I’m a fighter, but with words.”
“The country is like a body,” Palmer explained, “and each part of the body has a different function. Certain people do certain things better than others.” He said his “function” was planning a “Support Our Troops” day on campus this year in which students honored military recruiters from all four branches of the service.
By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. “The people opposed to the war aren’t putting their asses on the line,” Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn’t he putting his ass on the line? “I’m not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country,” he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, “and I wasn’t going to pass that up.” […] “We’re the big guys,” he said. “We’re the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit.”
Now we have nine Republican candidates and potential candidates for the presidency, all of whom support endless war in Iraq, only three of whom (John McCain, Ron Paul, and Duncan Hunter) have any military experience at all, and only one of whom (McCain) actually has a child in military service. Sam Brownback was too late for the draft (and never enlisted for post-Vietnam service). Newt Gingrich never served. Rudy Giuliani got work-related and educational deferments. Tom Tancredo was reclassified as not available in 1970 because of “stress-related anxiety”. (Today, of course, this wouldn’t matter; they’d just fill him up with Xanax and send him off.) Fred Thompson received a “daddy deferment” during the draft years. And Mitt Romney got a deferment so he could proseletyze for the Mormons in France.
Not that stops Romney from being an unabashed supporter of the war, even if it means spouting utter falsehoods (such as the one in the June 5 debate, in which he claimed that Saddam Hussein had refused to allow weapons inspectors into Iraq before the 2003 invasion).
After this story broke yesterday, Romney’s campaign released a video of his entire answer to the question. In the interest of accurate reporting, the transcript (courtesy of TPM Cafe) is reprinted below:
“Well, the good news is that we have a volunteer army and that’s the way we’re going to keep it. My sons are all adults and they’ve made their decisions about their careers and they’ve chosen not to serve in the military and active duty. I respect their decision in that regard. I also respect and value very highly those who make a decision to serve in the military. I think we ought to show an outpouring of support just as I suggested. A surge of support for those families and those individuals who are serving. My niece, for instance, just to tell you what a neighborhood can do and how touching it can be.
“My niece, Misha, living out West, her husband I think he got a call on a Tuesday. He’s in the National Guard. He got a call on a Tuesday that he was going to be called up and shipped overseas on a Thursday. And they just bought a home -– they hadn’t landscaped it -– but the rules in the neighborhood were that unless you got your home landscaped within a year of the time that you bought your home, they began fining you, because they didn’t want people having mud holes in front of their homes. And she was very worried and just before the year expired, she woke up one morning and looked out the window and all the neighbors were out there, rolling down sod, putting up trees, getting it all done.”
“It’s remarkable how we can show our support for our nation and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I’d be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country.”
I’m not sure that it isn’t even WORSE in context. For one thing, Romney doesn’t say his nephew is going to Iraq, he says he’s going “overseas.” For another thing, he’s describing people who live in the kind of planned community where they fine you if your landscaping isn’t in tip-top shape. And this is their biggest concern? There are families just barely making ends meet whose breadwinners signed up for the National Guard thinking they were going to be on call for disaster preparation and relief here in the U.S. and instead are being sent to Iraq. And Romney thinks that neighbors taking care of his nephew’s landscaping in an exclusive, gated community is the same as people holding bake sales so that soldiers can have body armor?
Can you imagine the hue and cry from the Republicans if John Edwards had delivered remarks like this?
I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a parent whose lost a son or daughter in this war, or a wife who wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night with a premonition that her husband is going to be killed, or a child whose father came back a stranger, or a 21-year-old facing a life without any legs, without his sight, and permanently disfigured. And I sure as hell can’t imagine what it must be like for such people to hear a presidential candidate from a prominent family equate having his sons campaign for him with breaking down doors in an insurgent stronghold in 115-degree heat.
But what’s even more disturbing is that there are enough Republicans who believe that giving lip service to supporting the war is EXACTLY THE SAME as actually fighting it to give Romney a lead in most polls.
Keith? I think you blew it last night. Mitt Romney should have been your Worst Person in the World.