Friday, May 23, 2008

Shame on you, John McCain!

Really John McCain? Really?

After Barack Obama criticized him for not supporting a bipartisan bill to enlarge the coffers of the GI Bill, John McCain shot back with what has to be his first misstep in his fledgling campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee. Whether or not anyone realizes it remains to be seen.

For me, McCain's hotheaded answer went far beyond his playful, Reaganesque commentary about Obama's age the other day (“I admire and respect Senator Obama. For a young man with very little experience, he’s done very well.”) and veered into territory both childish, ridiculous and insulting.

He said: “I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did.”

Excuse me?! Ignoring the fact that Obama began his criticism with wide-ranging praise for McCain's service record, and ignoring the fact that numerous Congressional members who are also military veterans echoed Obama's words, McCain's rhetoric is blatantly offensive. And I am a veteran.

To insinuate that someone is less patriotic, less qualified for office or has no right to question one’s stance on military issues simply because they themselves have not served in the military is outlandish. Many of this nation’s executives have not been veterans, including those regarded as it’s greatest heroes, from Jefferson to Lincoln to FDR.

Is McCain really suggesting that this issue is off limits merely because Obama chose to serve his country in a manner different than himself? Is he really suggesting that, on this issue, he is somehow better and thus, should not be questioned? Ridiculous and patently distasteful.

Shame on you, John McCain. You, of all people, should know better.


In an aside, McCain finally came out and repudiated Rev. Haggee's controversial positions and endorsement, just as he should have. In a response worthy of the playground tiff that it was, Haggee then withdrew his endorsement of McCain. As if we didn't need yet one more example why politics and religion need to remain separated.


Anonymous DC said...

I so agree with you. Does John McCain forget that when he went into the service, the military draft was in place? Also, don't you think that with his father and grandfather in the military, it was expected that he would go into the military?

This business of aligning with a minister for a "spiritual mentor" must stop! (in my opinion).

4:58 PM  
Anonymous BL said...

Good for you brother Fibbs. I had the same thoughts. I am glad that you have a venue that you can express yourself and let others know too. Also congrats on the ceremony -- that is awsome that they had in Yankee Stadium of all places !!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

To insinuate that someone is less patriotic, less qualified for office or has no right to question one’s stance on military issues simply because they themselves have not served in the military is outlandish.

I'm guessing you're not a fan of Robert Heinlein, then. :) If memory serves, the characters in Starship Troopers couldn't even vote unless they had served in the military.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. Keep it up. Congrats.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Heinlein's folks weren't even considered "citizens" unless they first served.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, you are awesome

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Gil said...

Well, I am sure you and I will have to agree to disagree on many issues especially when it comes to politics. I have said it before and will say it agian....not one of the canidates are worth a shit! (including the one living in the white house) Not to mention with the yahoo's we have in congress...I think its going to get worse before it gets better.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

FWIW, Max Boot: "The truly objectionable part of Obama’s statement is the last sentence, which the Times didn’t quote — the sentence in which he accuses McCain of 'partisan posturing' at the expense of veterans. That’s a pretty rich accusation for someone who has never served in uniform to make against one of our greatest military heroes. No wonder McCain was steamed. He had every right to be. And given the Times’s distortion of this dispute, McCain should be even more aggrieved today."

I'm not sure what I make of the accusations of partisanship on either side here. A cursory glance at the issue indicates that Obama may be treating the military like just another social program, something that people can check into and out of on the way to getting a college degree, while McCain may be treating the military like something that ought to serve the country in the long term, something that entices people to stay in uniform for more than two or three years. Obviously, each position reflects a political or philosophical attitude as to what the military is for in the first place -- and obviously, with the country at war, a notion that military service should be long-term or short-term will serve one agenda more than another. But I don't see that Obama is any less partisan than McCain in that regard, or, conversely, that a position which says military service should be long-term or short-term must necessarily be seen through the lens of current conflicts.

In a nation with an all-volunteer army, the government has to offer people something in exchange for their service. What it offers will reflect what the government wants, but it will also affect what kind of service the government gets regardless of what the rationales behind its offer might have been. If the government wants short-term soldiers, then it can offer everyone free college tuition after a few years of service. If the government wants long-term soldiers, then it can offer them benefits to go with their ongoing service. But it is ridiculous of Obama or anyone else to say that the government has a "moral duty" to offer either set of perks.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous POD said...

Me thinks that Mr. Chattaway has a very valid point indeed. Ditto.

As far as the GI Bill in itself, I do find myself on the rare instance of not supporting the GOP alternative; however, it should be noted that when the GI Bill was first introduced (in the 1940s), it covered a full ride (with change) at Harvard University, something that even the Jim Webb bill doesn't cover in full - it only covers expenses for the most expensive state schools, and gives the option of more expensive private schools to pony up half in the case of anyone that wants to attend an expensive Ivy League caliber institution.

I can only see good coming out of the new GI Bill... since the war started retention has been down and to keep recruitment up, some standards have been lowered in order to entice recruits. Giving the promise of a full ride education is a BIG enticement to get higher caliber people into the military.

And as far as retention is concerned, that can be addressed to the individual AFTER he/she is in by offering the benefits that Mr. Chattaway suggested probably in the form of $$ bonuses.

But usually as it stands, some people join for certain reasons, get out for certain reasons, and stay in for certain reasons. For example - and please tell me if I am wrong Brandon - you had no intention of remaining in the military when you joined and as I recall was very outspoken about it when the subject of your retention came up... myself on the other hand (I am a Navy guy with 17 years in now) didn't have a succinct plan so I decided to stay in.

So it is all a matter of personal choice in the end still...

And not to mention that the GI Bill questionably sparked a period of the largest economic, social, and technological expansion in the history of the world. To me the new GI Bill (the Webb version) just makes sense - and hell, why shouldn't I think otherwise, since it will benefit me in particular?

1:47 PM  
Anonymous POD said...

Oh, and about the Obama thing, if I were getting questioned about my patriotism by a JUNIOR senator, who basically has zero experience in dealing with military matters - I would be pissed off too!

This is simply an example of the Obama spin machine at its loving best, trying to discredit a man who is painfully (literally) more aware of military matters than himself...

1:54 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

I love the fact that military service is the LAST thing the Republican powers that be could care about unless it can be used to discredit a dissenting voice.

In 2004 it was 'swift boating' John Kerry in order to discredit him and keep people's attention away from the fact that Bushie was negligent on what miniscule service he was supposed to do.

Now its "Obama doesn't know what he's talking about, because he hasn't served"....oh really, well John McCain sure didn't have any problems buying, supporting and propogating Bush and Co's military agenda, even though they not only didn't serve in the military but did everything they possibly could to avoid it.

As far as the GI BILL is concerned i like what DMG notes:

"Sure, it sucks. But don’t feel too bad. We do have one final gift for you – a special Memorial Day present. We’re going to do our best to make sure that the new GI Bill that would give you decent college benefits is treated to the same fate as we gave to Saddam, with about the same degree of dignity, too. Even though god knows you’ve earned it. Even though it was one of the smartest things this country ever did last time around. Even though the story we’re running around trumpeting as our excuse for opposing benefits for the people we always wrap ourselves in during election time – that it would result in sixteen percent of the armed forces retiring so they could obtain the benefit – is nonsense, because the same Congressional Budget Office study that produced that finding also showed that the bill would increase recruitment by exactly the same amount, as more people signed-up to receive the benefit.

And even though – in what is the most remarkably shameful behavior of all by people who wouldn’t know shame if it hit them like a bunker-buster bomb – the underlying logic of this argument is that we cannot give you this benefit because you’ve earned it, you more than deserve it, and damn if you wouldn’t actually use it. Therefore we’d lose you, and since we’re unwilling to risk our own fortunes by having a draft, we can’t have that. So, our way of saying thanks to you, our way of supporting the troops, our way of showing our patriotism this Memorial Day, is to deny you these benefits so that we can further exploit you yet further, after which time we will still be denying you these benefits."

5:01 PM  

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