The Right’s Desperation, Part Two

But when it comes to brain-dead venom-spewing, Kristol is an amateur compared to Town Hall columnist Lisa De Pasquale. How bad have things gotten for the right? Well, let’s have a look.

A standard criticism of the phony machismo that is the stock-in-trade of right-wing politicans is that they are unwilling to see their own children fight in the wars they are so fond of starting. This is often presented as a slam-dunk argument exposing their utter hypocrisy. That’s precisely what it is. The question “Would I be willing to serve, or see my children serve, in this war?” is one every politican should have to answer in the affirmative before placing our troops in harm’s way.

This came up recently when Mitt Romney was forced to confront this issue. Here’s De Pasquale:

Last week we got another glimpse of the Left’s true feelings about our troops. At a campaign breakfast in Iowa, anti-war Daily Kos diarist Rachel Griffiths asked Mitt Romney why none of his five sons enlisted in the military. It’s a popular form of “gotcha” that the Left likes to play in order to bring out their favorite cat call – Hypocrite! Romney responded, “My sons are all adults and they’ve made decisions about their careers and they’ve chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I’d be a great president.”

Romney didn’t really answer the question of course. He says he respects his sons’ decision, but does he approve of it? And if he does, how does he justify his willingness to send other people’s children into war? You don’t get to run around the country telling people we are locked in an apocalyptic death-struggle with a fanatical enemy, and then trun around and say that helping out in a political campaign is more important than fighting that enemy.

What other answers are possible here? Well, in normal circumstances you could argue that the all-volunteer army is perfectly capable of handling the security needs of the country. That surely does not apply now. The military is desperate for troops, and we are currently engaged in two major, long-term engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. So let’s see what De Pasquale could come up with:

At the July 2007 National College Republican Committee Convention, whining wannabe journalist Max Blumenthal asked attendees why they weren’t fighting in Iraq. The college kids in his amateur ambush video fumbled with their words and gave medical excuses like asthma and bad knees. They were young, nervous and in front of a jerk holding a camera. Guilt isn’t necessary. The reality is that most of us wouldn’t make the cut.

Military recruitment was a hot topic when KVI talk radio host Kirby Wilbur broadcasted from the Young America’s Foundation’s national college conference in early August. A military recruiter called into the program to remind listeners that the military is, in fact, an exclusive club. The recruiter estimated that only 1 out of 5 prospective recruits qualify for military service. Most are either physically-challenged, intellectually-challenged or morally-challenged. Or in the case of Max Blumenthal, all three.

Yes, you read that right. All those Republican college students, those children of privilege whose favorite activity in the world is talking tough, would love to join the military and fight but, doggonit, they just don’t measure up physically. They go to bed weeping over the shame of their bodily decrepitude.

Perhaps realizing this doesn’t pass the laugh test, De Pasquale bleats on about how the left ignores the exacting physical standards that keep so many right-wingers from the military career they dearly crave because they don’t really care about winning the war, and consequently are happy to send every pudgy Republican dough-boy off to fight. Read it at your own peril.


  1. #1 Brando
    August 24, 2007

    I have to admit, there’s something very fullfilling about having an opinion about Iraq, Bush and the military and being able to counter critics with “well I served 12 years in the Army and fought in Iraq, fucko.”

    Still, the reaction of the College Republicans in Max’s video sound eerily familiar (ie Cheney).

  2. #2 Paul T.
    August 24, 2007

    In 1968 I would have gladly traded my year in Vietnam for a year on the campaign trail. It certainly would have saved me from the nearly 40 years of recurring nightmares and hundreds of hours of therapy. My feelings toward Dick Cheney and the other administration chicken hawks is unprintable.

  3. #3 Griff
    August 24, 2007

    Me too. 1969 was my year. Seems like to the right, the military is just a “career choice”. Nobody really signs up for war.

  4. #4 RBH
    August 24, 2007

    At an outdoor 4th of July concert this year the orchestra played the standard medley of service tunes, and veterans were asked to stand when their service’s signature tune was played. Standing when mine came up, I could see out over the crowd and was discouraged to see how few others there were standing. Most of us standing appeared to be around my age, also of the Viet Nam era (though my assignment was to stand off and throw Polaris nukes at the Commies). I wonder how many other veterans from that era still carry their dogtags. I do, and am still proud of them and of my service, but I’ll be damned if I can support what this administration has done to and with the military. Mine jingle when I wave them in the face of some draft-dodging neocon who bloviates about Iraq.

  5. #5 Derek James
    August 25, 2007

    Criticizing the justifications for the war and the way it has been handled seem perfectly reasonable. However, unless you want to do away with a civilian-controlled military and an all-volunteer force, the epithet “chickenhawk” is meaningless ad hominem. The founding fathers set up civilian control of the military for a reason. None of the major Democratic candidates now running for president have served in the military. Would you undermine their decision to send troops to war on the basis that they, or their children, had never served?

    I’d hope, instead, that you’d look at the justification for sending troops in the first place, and at the ongoing management of any military action. As I said, those are legitimate reasons to criticize a war, not this silly business about whether or not they or their children have served in the military.

  6. #6 Caledonian
    August 25, 2007

    I think the issue is that the people currently in charge went out of their way to avoid military service in a time when a particularly stupid war was ongoing, but seem to have no qualms about sending people off to die in a new, particularly stupid war.

  7. #7 PaulT
    August 25, 2007

    Having served in the military gives one a perspective that can’t be acquired in any other way. In the run-up to the Iraq war, no one in the Bush inner circle could draw on personal experience, save Colin Powell. Unfortunately, General Powell was marginalized and, I think, bullied into agreeing to go along with the consensus. These were frat boys playing soldier, draft dodgers and deserters putting American soldiers’ lives at risk for oil and neocon ideology.

    This administration has vilified veterans who got in their way. Look what they did to John McCain and Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Bush & Co. have exhibited little respect for this country’s vets. My impression is that they see those who served as suckers and have demonstrated this on many occasions.

    I believe that military service should be a constitutional requirement to be president and vice president. If this means that some otherwise qualified candidates are excluded, then so be it. We don’t need any more amateurs in charge of the military.

  8. #8 mark
    August 25, 2007

    You don’t get to run around the country telling people we are locked in an apocalyptic death-struggle with a fanatical enemy, and then trun around and say that helping out in a political campaign is more important than fighting that enemy.

    This sounds awfully familiar–Daddy keeps you out of the draft by getting you into the Air National Guard, but you can’t even fulfill that commitment–you’d rather play hookey and go politicking. Then talk about how America failed to secure a glorious victory in Viet Nam.

  9. #9 Nebularry
    August 25, 2007

    Here’s an idea. One can have asthma or bad knees or athlete’s foot and still strap on a bomb pack and walk into a market place or onto a bus load of commuters. Let’s send the “Romney’s Kids” of America into the fray wrapped in plastic explosives. The Muslims seem to have no shortage of eager recruits. No doubt we could talk some of America’s youth who would rather fight than campaign to do the same.

    Or, better yet, let’s just bring all the troops home and find a sane alternative to killing people and blowing things up.

  10. #10 cuchulkhan
    August 25, 2007

    The military is an astonishingly exclusive entity, it only goes for the best. I think the stats are that 30% of the American population would fail the military IQ tests. The cutoff is around IQ 92 or so, and they have been loathe to lower it despite recruitment difficulties. Modern weaponry and tactics are so complex they need the best, and can’t have people who take a long time to absorb information or figure things out.

    Of course in the rest of the world IQ is considered a ‘meaningless’ thing that ‘only measures how good you are at taking IQ tests’. Riiiiiight. Tell that to military recruiters. In the rest of the world comfy, politically correct lies are maintained about IQ, because the overall cost of those lies is considered small. If the military went along with those lies then soldiers would die.

  11. #11 FastLane
    August 25, 2007

    Looks like someone’s been drinking the kool-aid again….

    I had recruiters breathing down my neck all through my senior year in high school. I scored a composite 96 on the ASVAB and only took it because I got the recruiter to promise me lunch if I did.

    Never joined. I grew up in the service, so I already knew I didn’t want to be part of that.

    Worked my way through college for my degree.

    If they have a hard time finding recruits, though, it sure as hell ain’t because the bar is too high. Maybe cuchulkhan was being sarcastic and I’ve been suckered by Poe’s law…?

  12. #12 David D.G.
    August 25, 2007


    I’m sure that the military wants and needs soldiers who are smart enough to understand and follow orders as well as operate complex equipment. However, you might want to reconsider putting a lot of faith into IQ tests. Read Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man to get a good idea of just how biased even the best such testing invariably winds up being, thanks to cultural norms and other often unrecognized assumptions.

    ~David D.G.

  13. #13 cuchulkhan
    August 26, 2007

    Right. If mismeasure were true, then it would be in the armies best interest to abandon its intelligence testing and take in the bottom 30% of the IQ distribution. Yet it doesn’t. I wonder why? Perhaps because the military has done a gazzilion studies since IQ testing was introduced during WWII showing a direct correlation between IQ and soldiering ability? Modern militaries are essentially IQ based caste systems. The determine your intelligence on entry and decide how far you’ll probably be able to go from there, right up through higher IQ officers and to the very top. The Brits have a law saying that there can never be more than a 30 point IQ gap between an officer and his men, as they have done many studies showing severe communication difficulties between people of mismatched intelligence. Norman Swartzkopf (Desert Storm) has an IQ of 170, 7 points above Einstein.

  14. #14 David D.G.
    August 26, 2007


    I never said that the tests were completely worthless. And I certainly wasn’t suggesting that their results are totally backward, recommending that the bottom 30% should really be the best! Where the heck did you get that? Kindly refrain from inferring more than I have said, which was simply that IQ tests are prone to errors of bias that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to entirely allow for or eliminate.

    Since the military has fairly specific applications in mind for what it wants to test in terms of “intelligence,” this may make its tests a little less error-prone in that respect. I don’t know. But the practice of general IQ testing is historically and intrinsically rife with it.

    ~David D.G.

  15. #15 Caledonian
    August 26, 2007

    Norman Swartzkopf (Desert Storm) has an IQ of 170, 7 points above Einstein.

    IQ scores aren’t so precise that it’s useful to talk about specific differences between individuals when the difference is so small.

  16. #16 llewelly
    August 28, 2007

    uh, the ASVAB (which is required for US mil service) is not by any reasonable measure an ‘IQ’ test (which is not required). It’s more like an 8th-grade California Achievement Test (but with an easy, easy automotive section), with hordes and hordes of trivially finesse-able multiple choice questions (I took it knowing nothing about cars whatsoever, and missed only one question in the automotive section). No problem-solving ability required.

  17. #17 Erik 12345
    August 30, 2007

    cuchulkhan: “I think the stats are that 30% of the American population would fail the military IQ tests.

    Are you suggesting that the college Republicans and other politically-minded hawks belong to that 30th percentile of the dumbest Americans?

  18. #18 Oldfart
    September 23, 2007

    Derek James:
    You have the proper approach, I believe, but perhaps you have missed what most of us to the left have had to put up with from the right over the last 6 years (or longer if you count Viet Nam).

    You get a little sick of being called a coward, a traitor and being accused of having a “surrender” mentality by these hypocrites after awhile. It has gotten so bad that half the current population of Democratic Congressmen are so scared to death of being lumped in that group they are unable to use their majority to stop Bush from destroying the Constitution and the legacy of America as the hope of the free world.

    Despite documented evidence that the intelligence leading up to the attack on Iraq was cooked and manipulated, the current crop of Democrats has been able to do nothing to stop the bleeding…..

  19. #19 Kevin Groenhagen, USMC
    November 10, 2007

    Hey, bald one, did you approve of us going into Afghanistan after 9/11? If so, why didn’t you enlist? Also, Clinton deployed our troops more than 40 times during his eight years. Did you oppose each and every one of those deployments? If not, why didn’t you enlist?

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