This year the Republicans can't count on the military family's vote. Because Obama was right about Iraq, he may become the candidate of choice for far more pro-military voters than pundits might expect. Note: Since Senator Clinton voted for the war in Iraq she doesn't present a clear alternative to McCain or to the Republican Party. Of the Democratic candidates only Senator Obama has a chance to win the support of the military family. Here's why and here's how.
If McCain would only say what I suspect he believes -- that the Iraq war was a tragic mistake, that his support was a mistake and that our policy should be to take responsibility for the mess we've made, but that the best we can do is get out of Iraq as fast as is possible while causing as little harm as possible -- I (and others who mourn Bush's folly) might vote for him. Instead he is talking about "winning" and staying in Iraq for many years. How do you win a war you never should have started which was based on misinformation that morphed into outright lies?
McCain is face-saving and pandering to the Republican base at the expense of our military family. (Disclosure: In 2000 I went on several radio shows to argue for McCain's candidacy. A few years later McCain wrote a kind endorsement for one of my military-related books. I think it is a national tragedy that the Republican establishment destroyed his chances in 2000. Had he been president on 9/11 I'm sure that however he reacted to the attack on America that his actions would never have included invading Iraq.)
It makes me sad that I can't support McCain but I can't because the Republicans and Democrats share something besides trying to figure out what to do about Iraq. Both parties share a primary election system in which the ideological fringes have outsized importance. To get the nomination, candidates pander to the extremes. This pandering has fatally undermined any Republican's ability to lead us out of the mess Bush made.
Obama panders too when he promises we'll be out of Iraq in a year or so. He knows this is fiction. But Obama's pandering to his base is less dangerous than McCain's "never surrender!" pandering. That's because the ideological fringe of the Democratic Party is less dangerous than the ideologically extreme wing of the Republican Party.
The Democratic ideologues are merely unrealistic idealists, the sorts of village idiots that picket Marine recruiters in Berkeley. The Republican ideologues are bellicose warmongers who tarnish America's reputation and get our people killed. They are the torture enthusiasts, the war-of-choice enthusiasts, the radio talk show jerks who send other people's children to wars their own kids don't volunteer for. The Republican fringe goads America into acting like a bully. They are believers in a form of American exceptionalism that -- spewed by bizarre apocalypse-obsessed religious right evangelicals and/or Dr. Strangelove neocons -- is a jingoistic, toxic, fear-driven myth of "they" against "us" that if unstopped, will result in wars without end. And above all the Republican fringe isn't a fringe at all: they've become the heart and soul of the ugly fear-mesmerized party in power.
Republicans may talk about patriotism and honor but in fact through their stubborn support for Bush's war they have become our military's worst enemies. They literally get our men and women killed. But many of us in the military family have had it with the Republican's bellicose nonsense -- Bush's "Bring it on!" and now McCain's version; "I'll chase bin Laden to the gates of hell!" Enough is enough.
Friday, March 07, 2008
Military-family support for Obama
Frank Schaeffer (son of the legendary Francis A.) has this to say about why, as a lifelong Republican, he is supporting Obama this time around. (Read the whole article here)