Yesterday on npr I heard excerpts from President Bush speaking to children of service men and women at the White House. Strains of “Get them while they’re young, Evita! Get them while they’re young!” echoed through my echoless, blocked sinuses. Or maybe it was just the fever.
President Bush was jovial and agreeable, as everyone who didn’t vote for him will tell you are the most important qualities to being a President. That, and not getting a hummer in the Oval Office. He stood there and said things like
I know it’s tough to have your mom or dad overseas, and we wish you all the best. But it’s really important work. And so we wanted to welcome you here to the White House to, first of all, thank you for your strength, and so that you would do me a favor and email your mom or dad who is overseas how much the Commander-in-Chief respects them, admires them and supports them.
He stood there in front of those children and talked about their parents who were overseas. His legions (now admittedly smaller in number) rallying around what he said, patting the agreeable man on the back and telling the word that that is how you support our troops overseas. Not cutting and running! Not bringing them home safe. None of that. His legions, though, ignore the fact that supporting our troops also costs money. It costs money to keep the barracks and military housing available. It costs money to provide healthcare for families of those in the service. It costs something that can’t be measured in dollars to send your father or mother, your son or daughter, off to a “war” (when did Congress actually issue a formal Declaration of War, by the way?).
Another song comes to mind, this one by Elvis Costello, written about Margaret Thatcher and her stone heart. It’s called Tramp the Dirt Down. An excerpt:
And now the cynical ones say that it all ends the same in the long run<br/> Try telling that to the desperate father who just squeezed the life from his only son<br/> And how it’s only voices in your head and dreams you never dreamt<br/> Try telling him the subtle difference between justice and contempt<br/> Try telling me she isn’t angry with this pitiful discontent<br/> When they flaunt it in your face as you line up for punishment<br/> And then expect you to say “Thank you” straighten up, look proud and pleased<br/> Because you’ve only got the symptoms, you haven’t got the whole disease<br/> Just like a schoolboy, whose head’s like a tin-can<br/> filled up with dreams then poured down the drain<br/> Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being blown to bits or beaten and maimed<br/> Who takes all the glory and none of the shame
And remember that the macho shithead policies that used to be cultural mandates but have mostly been kicked to the curb by, y’know, common sense? Be a man! Walk it off! Rub some dirt in it! Mental illness is just an excuse! Depression is for sissies! Don’t ask, Don’t tell! Oh, they all still exist. Soldiers bandy them about like they’re the Commandments 11-20 (ok, technically the 11th Commandment was from Jesus Himself: “Love one another as I have loved you”). Never mind that seeing your friends blown up, or seeing the bloody results of your own trigger finger, might cause you some severe distress. The Army doesn’t care; in fact, they’ll punish you for complaining about it!
Of course, none of this kind of supporting of our troops matters to President Bush, as he continues to cut taxes and cut funding for military personnel. Legions? What say you?
Apparently, the Bush Twins can’t be bothered with even minimal solemnity.
Jenna & Barbara in Argentina
No, they’re off partying in Argentina. But hey, they’re 21 and so they managed to escape a 3rd strike (and they’re out!) conviction. And it’s no one’s business what they do or don’t do. You shouldn’t punish them for their parentage. It’s not like I’ve become a monk—well, ok, maybe I have, but not because of the war.
Anyway, Michael Kinsley wrote about the twins:
But no amount of eloquence can overcome the bald contrast between that rhetoric and how his own family lives. His daughters are over 21, and he can’t control them, but that doesn’t let them off the hook. They are now independent moral actors, and their situation requires that they either publicly oppose their father’s war or do something to support it. Is it unfair to expect Jenna and Barbara to shape their lives around their father’s folly? Of course it’s unfair. If this is war, then unfairness comes with the territory.
What’s my point? I’m fucking tired of hearing from the rightwing blogosphere that they own the recipe for supporting those who sacrifice. Hell, they think they own the definition of what sacrifice is. Sacrifice for others takes many forms, and I don’t suppose that I possess the authority to claim that nationalism is a better cause than feeding the poor, that losing your life in violent action for the religion of patriotism is more laudable that devoting your life to defending the Bill of Rights.
I’m tired of those legions of fanatical Bush apologists vilifying Those Who Question while saying nothing about Bush’s own family. Not every consistency is foolish, right?