June 23, 2008

"I Don't Mind Living in a Free Country . . .

as long as it's other people's kids who are keeping us free."

Bill Kristol in today's The New York Times:

The people at MoveOn.org have a new Iraq ad that is, if they do say so themselves, their most effective ever. Then again, for the group that brought us the “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” ad last September, that might not be saying much.

Nevertheless, the organization boasts on its Web site, “This isn’t your average political ad — it lays out the truth about McCain’s Iraq policy in a personal and compelling way.” MoveOn also claims, “We just got the results back and polling shows that voters found it to be more persuasive than any other ad we’ve tested before.”

Yeah, well, again: this is MoveOn.org, the set of activists who formed in response to an assault on the Chief Executive's God-given right to get blowjobs from young girls in the Oval Office.

Kristol again:

The ad is simple. A mother speaks as she holds her baby boy:

“Hi, John McCain. This is Alex. And he’s my first. So far his talents include trying any new food and chasing after our dog. That, and making my heart pound every time I look at him. And so, John McCain, when you say you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him.”

Take that, warmonger!

Now it might be pedantic to point out that John McCain isn’t counting on Alex to serve in Iraq, because little Alex will only be 9 years old when President McCain leaves office after two terms.

And it might be picky to remark that when McCain was asked whether U.S. troops might have to remain in Iraq for as long as 50 years, he replied, “Maybe 100” — explaining, “As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it’s fine with me, and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world. ...”

In other words, McCain is open to an extended military presence in Iraq, similar to ones we’ve had in Germany, Japan or Kuwait. He does not wish for, nor does he anticipate, a 100-year war in Iraq.

But it is surely relevant to point out that the United States has an all-volunteer Army. Alex won’t be drafted, and his mommy can’t enlist him. He can decide when he’s an adult whether he wants to serve. And, of course, McCain supports the volunteer army.

All of this is pretty much par for the course in political advertising. And I’m of the latitudinarian school when it comes to campaign discourse; politics is supposed to be rough and ready. So, why, I wondered after first seeing the MoveOn ad, did I find it so ... creepy?

He finds his answer over at Blue Star Beth's site:

I wonder about the actress (I doubt she’s really the mother of the baby because she’s obviously acting) saying that John McCain can’t have her son. Does that mean she’d rather her son live in a terrorist state or under the constant threat of acts of terrorism? Does that mean that she wants other people’s sons to keep the wolves at bay so that her son can live a life of complete narcissism? What is it she thinks happens in the world?

Actually, I can relate to what she’s saying. I can’t imagine my son being off in a foreign land being shot at by people who are trying to kill him. Its horrific to even contemplate. Its a reality that many of us have to live with day in and day out as our sons do their duty for the country. Its an unimaginable and untenable thing … to have your son ‘over there’ and to know that at any moment something horrible can happen. You don’t go for a second not knowing that. Not for a second for the entire time he’s deployed.

But what would this little actress, or moveon.org, have us do? As a mother, I have learned that I have to let my children grow up and make their choices in life, just as I made mine. I respect the choices my children have made and I support them 100%. I am proud of my son. His deployment changed him, but mostly in good ways. He is definitely a man now. He has a self-confidence and personal strength he never had before. That doesn’t mean I wanted him to go to Iraq. It just means that I understand that at some point a mother has to stand aside and allow her son to become a man.

I would rather do it than send my son to do it, but that’s not how it works. People like moveon.org would rather we surrender and appease than stand up to danger. By doing that, they put our sons in more danger.

Someone has to stand between our society and danger. If not my son, then who? If not little Alex then someone else will have to stand and deliver. Someone’s son, somewhere. This commercial makes me angry. What she is saying is that she is not willing to do her part. She’ll put us all in more danger to hide herself and her child in a corner. I love my son as much as she loves hers. I held him in my lap when he was a baby. I watched him take his first steps and go to school for the first time. I sat with him when he was sick and listened to him when he was confused. I waited in terror the first time he took the car out for a drive by himself.

The hardest thing I have ever done is spend 15 months knowing that he was in imminent danger half-way around the world and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

This woman should get used to it. That’s what its like to raise kids.

And Kristol concludes:

Unless we enter a world without enemies and without war, we will need young men and women willing to risk their lives for our nation. And we’re not entering any such world.

We do, however, live in a free country with a volunteer army. In the United States, individuals can choose to serve in the military or not. The choice not to serve should carry no taint, nor should it be viewed with the least prejudice. If Alex chooses to pursue other opportunities, he won’t be criticized by John McCain or anyone else.

But that’s not at all the message of the MoveOn ad.

The MoveOn ad is unapologetic in its selfishness, and barely disguised in its disdain for those who have chosen to serve — and its contempt for those parents who might be proud of sons and daughters who are serving. The ad boldly embraces a vision of a selfish and infantilized America, suggesting that military service and sacrifice are unnecessary and deplorable relics of the past.

And the sole responsibility of others.

Well, you know: that is at the end of the day, all the military is to those who benefit from their vigilance: a pair of dirty hands.

Posted by Attila Girl at June 23, 2008 12:44 PM | TrackBack

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About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
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