It may be the “cliché that won’t go away.” But it lingers - - and for good reason.
It seems like good news from Iraq is, at the very least, not-so-good news for Democrats in Congress.
In the aftermath of General David Petraeus’ recent report to Congress about our military‘s engagement in Iraq, responses from the political left depict a sad, if not potentially dangerous set of conditions.
The horrific Move-On Dot Org advertisement in The New York Times, which sought to malign one of our military’s top brass by referring to him as “General Betray-Us,” marked a new low-point for “anti-war activists.” The tragedy of this event was further heightened with the news two days later that the New York Times sold this specific advertisement to Move-On Dot Org at a discounted rate.
But most disappointing, and most dangerous, were the responses from sitting members of Congress. Senator Hillary Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a hopeful to be our next President, commented to General Petraeus “the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief."
Now, why is this so? Why, necessarily, is Mrs. Clinton’s starting point one of disbelieving an esteemed Army General?
Granted there are so-called “independent reports” on conditions in Iraq, and some of the data coming from those reports present a much more dire picture than does the Petraeus report. But the presupposition that a Four-Star General is necessarily lying, or is behaving in such a way as to try and sell a particular President’s political agenda, smacks of an anti-military ideology.
And this is bad for America.
There was, of course, a day and an age when both our major national political parties were, essentially, united on foreign policy and national security issues. Disagree and debate as we may about domestic agendas, fiscal policy and so forth, the disagreements ended at our nation’s shores. And even when there was disagreement on the details of foreign policy, the debate remained at home, so as to ensure that America appeared as a united entity abroad.
Entailed in this sense of “unity” were some specific presumed beliefs shared by a majority of Americans: that the United States is a good country with a noble influence in the world, and it is worthy of being defended; that a strong military is necessary for our nation to be adequately defended; that service in the military is a good and noble thing; and that those who do serve in our military are fulfilling a high calling, and worthy of our respect and best assumptions.
Arguably, these beliefs appeared present among both major political parties for most of the last century. It’s difficult to argue that President Truman or President Kennedy were, in any significant sense, “anti-war” or “anti-military.”
Yet, things seemed to change among the Democratic party during the Viet Nam war. Cynicism and pessimism crept in, and doubts of America’s prowess became core beliefs for many.
But even at the high point of Viet Nam, the anti-war, anti-military worldview did not play well during Democratic Nominee George McGovern’s 1972 campaign against Republican President Richard Nixon. But unfortunate seeds were sewn back then, and they are producing some ugly fruit today.
Today, our country suffers the embarrassment of the likes of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) appearing uncertain as to how to respond when asked about the Move-On Dot Org advertisement. Either politically unwilling or personally unable to clearly condemn a smear campaign against an Army General, Durbin commented that the advertisement displayed a “poor choice of words,” but then made the matter all relative, stating that “even the best of us can occasionally get tangled up in a poor choice of words.”
Fortunately, a majority of Americans still do not embrace the left’s hostility toward our service men and women.
And whether or not they trust the President or the Congress at any given time, they still respect and trust the military top brass.