Thursday, August 9, 2007

Romney's Sons Surge to Support Him, Not Troops

Last Friday I wrote a commentary piece on the “Iowa Independent” about GOP Hawk hypocrisy. At the end of my commentary, I questioned Romney’s call for a “surge of support,” while his strapping sons drive around Iowa in a 30-foot Winnebago raising more money for his campaign – not the troops.

Yesterday in Bettendorf, Rachel Griffiths, a member of the Quad City Progressive Action for the Common Good, as well as the sister of an Army major who had served in Iraq, asked Mitt about this during an “Ask Mitt Anything”:

Griffith’s question and Mitt’s justification of his son’s call to his duty have taken off in the national media. "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

Here’s the original commentary, “Wanted: GOP Hawks to Sacrifice Themselves for War,” posted on the “Iowa Independent”:

(Commentary) I honestly believe that I was born with irony and hypocrisy radar chips embedded in my cerebral cortex. And nothing sets the radar off more than a civilian hawk, especially one who vehemently calls for war yet is unwilling to donate, sacrifice, or spill his own blood or that of his loved ones in support of the cause.

My first face-to-face encounter with a hypocritical hawk took place in Jan. 1991 at the onset of the first Gulf War. I was a full-time student at the University of Iowa at the time, and I was also in the Army’s IRR ( Inactive Ready Reserves), meaning I could get called back into active duty should Bush Sr. decide my services were needed. I had already completed my active duty service, but as is the case with every soldier who enlists, I had to finish fulfilling my eight-year contract with Uncle Sam. I was feeling conflicted about the notion of having to leave school and return to the Army. I felt as if my life was moving forward and the military chapter of my life had closed behind me.

One snow-covered January day before the spring semester had begun, I was on my way to the University of Iowa book store when I heard shouting at the UI Pentacrest. A group of protestors had gathered to protest President Bush’s Jan. 15 midnight ultimatum and subsequent bombing of Saddam’s troops in Kuwait. Ironically, the shouts weren’t coming from the sign-wielding protestors, but rather, a group of counter protestors. Not only were the counter protestors yelling obscenities, but they were also throwing snowballs at the protestors.

I approached one of the ringleaders who had just heaved a tightly packed snowball at his intended target, while simultaneously yelling, “Support our troops you pussy commies!” When I asked him what was going on, the young twenty-something informed me that he was part of the UI College Republicans, and they were sick and tired of those damn hippies undermining our troops. “Besides, we have just as much right to exercise our free speech as they do.”

“Does exercising your free speech always involve throwing snowballs?” I asked.

“Why do you care?” he responded while his cohorts fired another round of snowballs.

“Just curious, that’s all,” I said.

“I support our troops, and that’s all that matters. They should be supporting them too,” he said.

“By support, do you mean you’re enlisting?”

“You mean join the military?”


“I don’t have time to join right now. I’m in college, and I need to finish up here before I think about doing anything else.”

“I see,” I said.

As I walked away, I could hear the shouts fade in the background as thoughts of having to abandon college and go serve in Kuwait invaded the forefront of my mind. While walking to the bookstore, I pondered a quote from, “The Things They Carried,” a book by Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien who wrote, “There should be a law, I thought. If you support a war, if you think it’s worth the price, that’s fine, but you have to put your own precious fluids on the line. You have to head for the front and hook up with an infantry unit and help spill the blood. And you have to bring along your wife, or your kids, or your lover. A law, I thought.”

This got me thinking about today’s metaphorical “War on Terror.” Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have yet to be officially declared by Congress, it’s only fitting that Congress pass legislation that institutes an Undeclared Draft---possibly adding it to the 22nd amendment. Here’s a working draft of the bill, The Undeclared Draft Act, which I crafted on Dec. 6, 2006 in response to Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who called for an additional 100,000–150,000 troop surge in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Congress, during times of Undeclared War, shall have the right to institute or reinstitute an Undeclared Draft. Using a lottery system, persons eligible for the Undeclared Draft will be randomly selected from a pool comprised of anyone over the age of 18 who supports any military actions ordered during a time of Undeclared War. The pool will also be extended to include anyone whose mother or father is an elected official and supports, whether it be directly or indirectly, said military actions.

Sounds fair to me, but I’m not sure this would bode well with the hawk-infested political community, especially considering most of their sons and daughters are serving tours on college campuses, while unrelated troops are serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The grenade, however, doesn’t fall far from the hawk’s desk, for they’ve managed to breed the same hawk-like hypocrisies into their children. In his documentary-style video, “Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour,” Max Blumenthal documents the next generation of Republican hawks and their hypocritical mentality when it comes to actually supporting the war.

After visiting Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery on July 13, 2007, Blumenthal headed across the street to the College Republican National Convention.

In conversations with at least twenty College Republicans about the war in Iraq, I listened as they lip-synched discredited cant about "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here." Many of the young GOP cadres I met described the so-called "war on terror" as nothing less than the cause of their time.

Yet when I asked these College Repulicans why they were not participating in this historical cause, they immediately went into contortions. Asthma. Bad knees from playing catcher in high school. "Medical reasons." "It's not for me." These were some of the excuses College Republicans offered for why they could not fight them "over there." Like the current Republican leaders who skipped out on Vietnam, the GOP's next generation would rather cheerlead from the sidelines for the war in Iraq while other, less privileged young men and women fight and die.

"Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour"

Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour from huffpost and Vimeo.

The other day I received an e-mail message from Mitt Romney, who’s calling for a “surge of support” to go along with the recent troop surge in Iraq. In doing so, Romney attacked the Democrats’ allegiences towards the troops:

While some Democrats in Congress say they support the troops who are making these sacrifices, many don’t support the work they are doing to make the surge a success.

By troop support, Romney means visiting and/or joining an organization that sends supplies, care packages and other moral boosters over to our deployed troops. This is great, but nowhere in his plan does Romney indicate that we should support our returning veterans as well or support Jim Webb’s congressional measure that would give our troops more down time upon their return before redeployment.

Nor does Romney, who has been blessed with five strapping sons, suggest supporting our troops with fresh meat from his own familial den of young military hawks. I received a campaign e-mail yesterday from Josh, one of Romney’s sons, who has been cruising around Iowa in his dad’s 30-foot Winnebago in an effort to raise support for his dad’s Ames Straw Poll.campaign.


Anonymous said...

Excellent commentary. My thoughts exactly. Let these chickenhawks fight on the front line of the war if they love it so much.

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