Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Conventional wisdom

My apologies for the title. I frequently make fun of journalists for throwing lame not-quite-puns into their coverage for no good reason. And now I start off a post with a title like that. What a slave to convention I am.

Okay, I'm done.

Anyway, I have two thoughts about the convention that I would share with my roommates, except that the one who works is already in bed and the one who goes to school is still out.

Thought one: Zell Miller would intimidate the devil himself. And when I say "the devil," I mean the junior senator from Massachusetts. Tonight Zell Miller showed me the fires of hell, and I have seen the light. Hallelujah! Deliver me from Kerry!

Zell Miller also intimidated Chris Matthews. I will let other people make the obvious points about declining respect for mainstream media, etc. Me, I just want to see the tape again, because that was crazy. Jeff Goldstein on little red pills crazy.

Thought two: I have never paid a lot of attention to conventions before, but I can not imagine that so much time has been spent sucking up to the US military ever before. The Democrats certainly spent an enormous amount of time talking about how much they love soldiers (so much that they want to bring them home so they are always be within hugging distance). An unbelievable amount of time. I thought at the time that if Republicans were to spend so much time talking about how they love soldiers, people would think that they were bloodthirsty warmongers, or hypernationalistic hawks, or wacko gun nuts, or something.

But watching the convention tonight I wondered how it would be different if the only people voting were soldiers and vets. Not much different, I think. And that worries me.

I realize that we're in a war and everything, but defense is not the only issue out there. It's okay to talk about other things. And even when we're talking about defense issues, soldiers are not always right. Soldiers deferring to civilians makes for a healthy democracy. Civilians deferring to soldiers makes for trouble.

I miss Eisenhower. Not literally. Before my time, Ike. But he certainly didn't defer to the Defense Department. No. He surveyed the international threat environment and examined the nation's finances. And he chose a grand strategy that would address the threats without breaking the bank. And the military did not like the changes that his strategy required of them. But what could they do? He beat Hitler.

There is no one in the United States today who could do that. The generals have acquired too much expertise in bureaucratic infighting. (See: Powell, Colin.) And the politicians have lost the expertise in military affairs. When a politician tells a general to cowboy up, the general calls a press conference and talks about how some politicians just don't realize the importance of national defense, etc. And so the pork keeps getting barrelled up and shipped out.

I am tired of hearing about how President Bush is going to give our boys everything they need to win the war. I'm not worried about that. I have faith that our boys will win the war, even with crummy equipment. (See: Sherman tank.) What they need to win the war is leadership, not servility.

Kerry's worse. The other JFK would have told the DoD what he told everyone else: "Ask not what your country can do for you..." He was not afraid to tell them to do things they thought were foolish, but which he believed were necessary to defeat the America's enemies. (See: Green Berets; Special Warfare School.)

It's nothing, I know. We're not going to have a coup and be ruled by a junta. But Eisenhower was right about the military-industrial complex. And Washington and the rest were right about standing armies. The defense budget is now almost half a trillion dollars right now if you count everything. And lots of that money is going to things that have nothing to do with the war on terror because no one in this country has the standing to challenge the military, like Ike did. Bush doesn't. Rumsfeld doesn't. Kerry sure doesn't. Good grief. If there's one thing I've learned from the Swift Boat Vets it's that Kerry can not stand up to the military-- He's not Nixon enough to take that trip to China.

Perhaps Senator McCain has the right stuff. He's an enemy to waste and pork, and his patriotism and his defense credentials are unimpeachable. And he sure seems to be scratching Bush's back right now. Maybe he will get the SecDef post if Bush wins. And maybe he can take his medals

Hope is on the way!


No comments: