by Mickey Z.
Every now and then, a series of events (and the reaction to those events) converge to effectively illustrate just how deeply the indoctrination runs in the home of the brave/land of the free. Senator John F. Kerry was the catalyst for the most recent such convergence. His "botched joke" laid bare the passionate cult of the soldier, America's enduring military fetish.
It has been and remains career suicide for any public figure to even hint at criticizing the men and women in uniform. Consider Kerry's apology: "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." It's not even an issue of actually being critical of the military. Among a war-loving people, you must be cautious to not even "wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform." Kerry himself said people were "crazy" to think he would denigrate America's military. As profound as this may be, the realities exposed by the "stuck in Iraq" affair go much deeper than that.With midterm elections looming, it seems almost every Democrat is being cynically positioned as anti-war (or at least, anti-this-war). But not one of them will risk being "stuck" with Kerry. Democrats on the campaign trail stated Kerry was "wrong to say what he said" and "owes our troops and their families an apology." The ever-opportunistic Hillary Clinton was crystal clear: "What Senator Kerry said was inappropriate."
Kerry's rivals, of course, were salivating. House Republican leader John Boehner said Kerry is "a liberal, a leftist" and declared such a joke to be "the typical attitude they have towards our military." Which brings us to the next truth laid bare: Only a heavily conditioned society would be unable to recognize that Kerry is an incurable warmonger, a man who voted for-and wrote parts of-the USA PATRIOT Act, a man who declared that the Vietnam War was merely a "mistake," a man who cast a "yes" vote in October 2002 for George W. Bush's plan to invade Iraq the following year. Kerry justified that vote with the statement that "according to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons." He later asked "Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try?" In 2004, he ran on a platform of sending even more troops to Iraq than Bush was willing to commit. In what universe is Senator John F. Kerry "anti-soldier" or "soft" on terror?
Then we have the concept of being "stuck" in Iraq. Let's be clear: No one is more "stuck" in Iraq than the Iraqis. They didn't ask for Saddam Hussein, but they got him. They didn't ask for the American and British military to bombard them for 15 years without pause, but they got it. They didn't ask for depleted uranium shells to poison their land, but they got it. They didn't ask for foreign armies to invade and brutally occupy their country, but they got them. They also didn't ask for this manner of "insurgency," but they got it. The Americans who willingly signed up for the armed forces, in some ways, are stuck in Iraq. Their hardships, however, are not even in the same league as the long-suffering Iraqis.
Botched or not, the joke is on us.