Saturday, October 6, 2007

Enough is Enough

When Chickenhawks Attack

by Brandon Friedman [more here]

Earlier this week, someone on the Republican side of the aisle put out the word: The best way to discredit combat veterans who disagree with the President’s policies is to insinuate (or directly say) that they are being "used" by the nefarious Left, that they are being "fed" information, and that they can’t think for themselves.

The idea is to suggest that common soldiers couldn’t possibly formulate the complex, nuanced, and knowledgeable opinions on military and foreign policy needed to compete on the national scene—at least not to the extent that Beltway sophisticates like Joe Watkins can.  Or hypocritical draft-dodgers like Rush Limbaugh.

Yes, unfortunately, it’s come to this.  Republican strategists and radio hosts haven’t had a leg to stand on all week with the Rush Limbaugh suicide bomber hoopla.  So when we at (and other media organizations) have come after them, they’ve had to fall back on accusing us of being ignorant simpletons.  I’d like to share a few examples with you.
The first time I caught it this week was when Rush Limbaugh responded to our commercial featuring Brian McGough, the Purple Heart recipient who challenged him on his "phony soldiers" comment.  This is what Rush said:
Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him. They're not hurting me, they're betraying this soldier. Now, unless he actually believes what he's saying, in which case it's just so unfortunate and sad when the truth of what I said is right out there to be learned.
Because Brian, the author of Inside My Broken Skull, couldn’t possibly believe what he’s saying. Because, according to Rush, no sophisticated person—no educated person—could ever believe such things.  There’s no way that a "real" American Army soldier couldn’t agree with Rush.  The Left must have just kidnapped poor Brian and filled his empty Army head up with lies.

And by no means did the condescension stop there.  They came after me with the same garbage Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC.  To be exact, Republican chickenhawk and Beltway pundit Joe Watkins challenged me directly.  Here’s the transcript:
Watkins: Tamron, these veterans who are out there are heroes and we honor their service to this country.
(Author’s note: They always set up the slander by "honoring" us.)
Watkins: But right now they’re heroes that are being used unfortunately by folks on the Left who are trying—

Me: I’m not being used.

Watkins: —to attack Rush Limbaugh.  I believe you are.  I believe that you’re being used.  I think that your service to the country is honorable and admirable and uh, and, and, and for you to be used by the Left to, uh, attack Rush Limbaugh and—

Me: No.  You have no idea what you’re talking about when you say that I’m being used.

Watkins: I, I, I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Me: No.  I’m not being used.

Watkins: I mean, I think that the folks that have served in honor of this country deserve to be honored. . .
He keeps using that word.
Watkins: . . .but when you get to the point where only—

Me: No.  Until you’ve gone over there and served in Afghanistan and Iraq like I have, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Watkins: Well—

Me: Because I’m not being used.  I’ve been over there and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I’m not being used.

Watkins: Well, the point is—

Me: These are my own opinions.

Watkins: Well, well, well it’s a perfectly honest debate. . . .
It only got better from there.  He kept going on and on about it.  Here’s the video of the whole thing—where this latest Republican technique of smearing veterans is highlighted:

I love it.  People like Joe are a trip.  We’re being "used."  We’re just ignorant soldiers, turned into Leftist pod people by the Borg-like MoveOn.  These people who say they have nothing but respect for the military are the very ones who denigrate those who serve.  They say they’re "honoring" us, while they’re telling us we’re unable to think for ourselves.  It’d be funny if the consequences of this mentality weren’t so serious.

So for all the chickenhawk Joe Watkins-s of the world who've enabled our slow-minded and destructive president, I’ve decided to offer a passage that explains where I’m coming from.  And it’s not from or the DNC handbook.  It’s from my own memoir, The War I Always Wanted, and it was written before I ever even considered working in politics.  The scene is Iraq, at the beginning of the insurgency in 2003:
Lying on my cot, I came to the point that many people reach in a situation where they stop what they’re doing and say, "Wait a second.  This is bullshit.  This isn’t right."  Two guys in our battalion were dead, two families ruined.  And try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of that was.

Things that had been welling up inside me all summer suddenly exploded in my head like a dozen Roman candles.  I hated the president for his ignorance.  I hated Donald Rumsfeld for his appalling arrogance and his lack of judgment.  I hated their agenda.  I hated Colin Powell for abandoning the Army—for not taking care of his soldiers—when he could have done something to stop these people.  I hated them because the Army had seen this insurgency coming.  I hated them because they didn’t listen to the people who told them this was a bad plan.  I hated them because now, it meant that my guys could be next.  It meant that I could be next.  And I didn’t want to die like this—not in a confusing mishmash of ideologies, purposes, and bullets.

I felt like we had been taken advantage of.  We were professionals sent on a wild goose chase using a half-baked plan for political reasons.  Lying there restlessly, I was reminded of a Schwarzenegger line in one of his movies—when, after being used and lied to, his muscle-bound character had expressed perfectly what was now on my mind: My men are not expendable.  And I don’t do this kind of work.

I longed for the clarity of purpose we’d had in Afghanistan.
If we’ve been used by anyone, clearly, it’s the Republicans who’ve done the using.  They’re such hypocrites.

And it didn’t stop there.  Thursday, Rush was at it again, referring to Brian McGough as "this poor guy Brian McGough."  Poor, helpless, ignorant Brian McGough.  The same Brian McGough who was awarded a Bronze Star in Afghanistan after 9/11 for his actions during Operation Anaconda, during which time Rush Limbaugh’s fat ass was hiding behind a microphone in Florida, cowering in fear of terrorists.

It never stops.  This is a game to these people.  They have no understanding of real-life suicide bombers.  Of real-life shrapnel.  Of real, honest to god fear.

This is why they must be removed from power.

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