A Captive Audience

President Bush gave his official presidential address not from our nation’s capital, nor Iraq’s capital, but from Fort Bragg, NC. Hopefully, I’ll post more substantive thoughts on his address later (when I’m done editing this frickin’ 70 page report), but his choice of audience got me thinking about the state of our military.

I thought that the seven hundred or so troops in the audience behaved appropriately during the speech. Unlike the jubilant atmosphere of the USS Abraham Lincoln, where Bush made his famous declaration of “mission accomplished,” the audience was quiet and attentive. As Bush walked into the room, the troops stood properly at formal attention, and applauded only once during the speech, though NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reported that this round of applause was “triggered by members of the president's advance team.” Remember, on the USS Lincoln, the troops were jubilant because of a job well done, not because of the political pronouncements of the flight suit-clad Bush – they were applauding their commander-in-chief, not just George W. Bush.

Slate’s Christopher Hitchens recently wrote a worthwhile article about how liberals have become opportunistically concerned for our soldiers in harm’s way, and not always rationally. But Lucian Truscott’s Op-Ed in the New York Times yesterday was a powerful and alarming piece about the US Military Academy (West Point), and one that I hope will not fall on deaf ears. In it, he details exactly how our military’s young elite is being torn apart by the Republican administration. One of the many reasons that our country has trouble soliciting volunteers to defend it is surely the cynical attitude that our leaders have implanted in young Americans. I couldn’t help but think of Karl Rove’s recent comments when I read this article, and wonder how many more young, intelligent Americans decided that sacrificing their lives and futures, for the benefit of cynics like Rove, was not worth it.

Both liberals and conservatives have been fawning over our servicemen lately, and it would seem perfectly fair to me if our servicemen and women have grown more than a little cynical of them all. As Merle Haggard, best known during the Vietnam era for writing “Okie from Muskogee,” wrote in 2003:

“Politicians do all the talking, the soldiers pay the dues,
Suddenly the war is over. That’s the news.”


Blogger Hatcher said...

I think it is rather silly to think that the soldiers on the Lincoln were merely applauding their Commander in Chief; everyone know's the military is overwhelmingly Republican.

What cynical attitude has been implanted? Soldiers in the midst of war who are seeking to get out, who are fed up with the political aspects of it - there is nothing new about this. Name a war, and anyone could write the same article Truscott wrote, and my bet is that they probably did.

And I love how Truscott found a soldier who reads the New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, and the Atlantic. Not exactly Republican reads - what did the ten corresponding guys reading National Review have to say? We don't know, 'cause he didn't ask.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005  

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