On Friday, during the course of one conference call with reporters, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin may have managed to piss off several generations of military veterans. Speaking about presumptive GOP nominee John McCain, he cited a “distorted reality” fueled in part by the Arizona senator’s military service and family military history.
McCain, Harkin said, has a hard time “thinking beyond” his military-shaped perspective. “I think he’s trapped in that,” Harkin said. “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”
It is fairly obvious, at this point, that the democrats are facing an troublesome situation in November and are scrambling to favorably position Barack Obama against John McCain, a former prisoner of war and by all accounts an American military hero. As a result, the democrats are looking at various ways to temper the nobility of McCain’s service to the country.
Odd, considering that in 2000 and 2004 the democrats assailed George W. Bush for merely flying in the Air National Guard, as if that wasn’t enough when compared with Al Gore and John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. Four and eight years ago, the perceived “lesser” service in the Air National Guard wasn’t enough military service to make a good candidate. Now, however, Obama’s complete lack of military service apparently spares him the wrong-headed perspective connected with military service and history by the political left. Military experience, deemed noble and nearly essential by the democrats in 2000 and 2004, is this year deemed “pretty dangerous.”
How politically convenient. How absurdly disgusting.
Ten days ago, the New York Times ran a piece in its magazine which stated that McCain’s service–spent tortured, starving and broken for more than five years in the Hanoi Hilton–was somehow inferior to the boots-on-ground service seen by Chuck Hagel, John Kerry and Jim Webb. According to the piece, McCain had spent five years “sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world” and therefore “did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle” and never “underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol.” In other words, because McCain hadn’t been praying in a foxhole or making up stories about serving on a swift boat, he hadn’t seen the same type of things and therefore lacked the unique perspective of his liberal-leaning, veteran congressional counterparts. Sick.
Now, it’s Harkin’s turn to spouting off. “McCain is running for a higher office,” Harkin said. “He’s running for Commander in Chief, and our Constitution says that should be a civilian, and in some ways I think it would be nice if that Commander in Chief had some military background, but I don’t know if they need a whole lot.”
If we had followed Harkin’s logic since the Constitutional Convention, preferring civilians for the position of President of the United States, we might never have seen George Washington, Andrew Jackson or Ulysses Grant. We likewise could have counted out Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush. The truth is, leadership is taught and refined in the military. Discipline and honor, too.
Harkin–who during a 1992 presidential run grossly fabricated stories of combat missions to paint himself as a war hero–is sorely out of touch with America and his disdain for the American military, like that exhibited by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and several more of his Democratic party colleagues, is showing through. Even worse, these statements were made in the days surrounding Memorial Day, a time when all Americans should remember the sacrifices made by our fighting men and women on hillsides in Vietnam, at the base of Mt. Suribachi, and storming the beachhead in France.
It saddens me that democrats more often than not place the needs of our country behind the needs of their own party. It saddens me even more that, especially during this past weekend, Democratic party politics besmirched true honor.