One of the salutary results of the Clinton administration, I thought, was that it got liberals and Democrats in the habit of using the first person plural. U.S. military forces in Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere were "our troops." NATO and Japan and Australia and all the rest were "our allies."
The second person plural used to come naturally to all Americans. G.I.s in World War II were "our boys" (the second word now politically incorrect and also inaccurate), whether you were a Republican or a Democrat, from the North or the South, black or white. But the Vietnam War got liberals out of that habit. U.S. troops were "the military." They were sent into Lebanon and Grenada not by "the president," but by "the Reagan administration." (Did anyone say that troops were ordered to Normandy or Iwo Jima by "the Roosevelt administration"?) The Gulf War in 1991 was regarded by most Democrats and liberals as "their war."
The success of the Gulf War and the election of a Democratic president the next year got Democrats back into the habit of thinking of the government and the military as "ours." They reveled, especially during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, in portraying themselves as the champions of "our troops." They howled in anger, I think justifiably, when House Minority Leader Dick Armey, looking over to the Democratic side of the aisle, referred to Bill Clinton as "your president."
Today, Democrats are pretty much back to the third person plural. Yes, they still talk of "our troops" from time to time, but usually only to call for them to be "redeployed" from a mission that has been more successful than not, but has not been completed. They seldom mention any soldier's heroism unless they can persuade him to run for office on the Democratic ticket. They talk, instead, about George Bush's war, even though most Democratic senators and nearly half of House Democrats voted to authorize it and -- remember? -- said that they believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
And most Democrats are willing, even eager to take unprecedented stands that will retard the fight against terrorism. More than four-fifths of House Democrats voted against the military tribunals bill this week, though military tribunals have always been used to try unlawful combatants, and the bill gave those charged more protections than in the past.
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