Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sadly, This Is America Now

A long-running Facebook thread just petered out when my opponent was reduced to calling me "senselessly ridiculous" because I didn't agree with his assessment that missing the calls for action prior to 911 (August Presidential Daily Brief - "Bin Laden determined to strike inside U.S.") and getting the intelligence utterly wrong (either purposely or not) on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, paled - paled - in comparison to Benghazi! Thousands of deaths on 9/11, more thousands in Iraq, 4 in Benghazi but my FB "friend" truly believes that , at worst, the former two included a few minor errors in judgement while the latter was deliberate and called for the firing of the Secretary of State and possibly, putting the president on trial for treason.

His conviction on Iraq is that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Don Rumsfeld and Colin Powell may have made a few innocent misstatements regarding yellow cake and enriched uranium and aluminum centrifuge tubes and chemical weapon factories, but in Benghazi, Obama and Hillary covered up and lied!

Sadly, this is America now. I watched in dismay as Republicans savaged one of their own during Chuck Hagel's hearing on his nomination for Secretary of Defense. It reminded me more of the trial of a war criminal than a Senate confirmation hearing. John McCain will always deserve a certain amount of respect for his service to, and suffering for, his country, no matter how far off the rails he goes - and these days, he goes way far - but by God, his fellow soldiers deserve the same respect!

They don't get it from the Republicans who flatly refuse to honor that concept. You can have served as a grunt in Vietnam, received Purple Hearts in the process, still be carrying shrapnel in your body, like Chuck Hagel, but none of it means anything now. It's all about "what have you done for me lately?". Swift-boating is good enough for you if you didn't reach the same conclusions as John McCain and his merry little band of arrogant and sanctimonious flunkies. Seriously? Ted Freakin' Cruz gets to stand in judgment on Chuck Hagel? That's like PeeWee Herman standing in judgment of  Dwight Eisenhower. It's like a Chihuahua, protected behind the Senate hearing desk, growling bravely at a Great Dane chained in a pen.

The same thing happened when John Kerry ran for president. The Swift Boat bunch took the truth and turned it upside down, trashing Kerry's reputation, turning his service into something tarnished and devalued and ugly. That's how much the Republicans' much-trumpeted love of our military means in real time. (Although this is the Senate and that was then and this is now, so John Kerry is back in their good graces, all is forgiven, and he received an almost unanimous confirmation vote as Secretary of State,except for the aforementioned Ted Cruz, who evidently has a hard-on for war heroes).

There were serious, legitimate questions the senators could have asked Hagel - like how does he foresee modernizing the military when two wars are ending and deficits need to be cut and what steps does he think we should take in getting out of Afghanistan with the best possible outcome - and what does he think about women in combat - and how would he move to vastly reduce the rapes and assaults on female soldiers. But, no, McCain is still fixated on Iraq and outraged that Hagel had doubts about the necessity and the effectiveness of a surge that's long over. Oh, and they tried to paint him as not a staunch offender of Israel because he believes Bibi Netanyahu is our partner, not our boss. Although not even all Israelis agree with Bibi's strategies, as proven by the weakening of his support in that country's last election. In actuality, we all know, don't we, that Hagel's big sin is being nominated by the hated Barack Obama?

You can always tell when an interrogation isn't legitimate. That's when the questioner demands yes or no answers because complex issues can almost never be reduced to simplistic yeses and nos. Another clue is when the interviewer uses all his time on a long-winded showboating narration that doesn't allow any time for the witness to respond. See, that way, they have to send written answers later, ones the public will never see, so all we got was the actor's star turn. Clever, huh?

 I have many friends who served in Vietnam, including my husband who was a combat medic there. They returned home with different views of that war. Some were still gung-ho about it's rightness. Others were more cynical and disillusioned about its purposes. Jim himself was more in line with John Kerry's thinking. He thought our leaders had totally lost sight of whatever their original reasons were for going and allowed thousands to die because their own egos were so invested in not losing.

When you fight, you have a right to believe whatever you damn well want to about the war you engaged in. For puny little pipsqueaks like Ted Cruz and the rest of McCain's Mad Puppy Patrol to question the patriotism of any soldier who served his or her country in combat makes me sick. They don't even know the meaning of loyalty.