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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Bob Herbert is a Klingon

Before I get into the other pieces of his Op-Ed, I want to take a moment to point something out:

One is New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, one is Commander Worf, of the starship Enterprise. Disturbing, isn’t it?

It’s easy to dismiss Bob Herbert’s constant “blah blah liberal blah blah blood for oil blah blah war sucks I hate Bush and I look like a space alien” ramblings, since they are all essentially vitriol against the Iraqi experiment, without ever doing much more than bitching. But today’s op-ed warrants comment because it is such a common complaint, even amongst people who do not look like extras from a science-fiction show.

First, we get a sincerely odd proclamation that the Iraq war is not being covered well enough.
”The announcement on Sunday that five more American soldiers had been blown to eternity by roadside bombs was treated by the press as a yawner. It got very little attention.
You can turn on the television any evening and tune in to the bizarre extended coverage of the search for Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba in May. But we hear very little about the men and women who have given up their lives in Iraq, or are living with horrific injuries suffered in that conflict.”

He’s right. Apart from the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning Star, The Newark Star Ledger, The Denver Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle, the Iraq war has just flown under the radar. Luckily, CNN, Fox news, MSNBC and all of the networks devote enough time, between them, to the war and war-related subjects that an individual, sitting in front of a TV 24 hours a day, could literally never watch it all. Or maybe he means that there isn’t enough information about the individual soldiers who are dying? A Lexis search for stories about Cindy Sheehan only turns up two thousand hits or so. So I’m not really sure where the “Iraq war being underreported” comes from, especially given that he writes about it every other day. Claim that Afghanistan rebuilding isn’t getting enough press, okay, you can make a case. But Iraq is saturating the society’s consciousness.

Then we get to the common complaint:
For all the talk of supporting the troops, they are a low priority for most Americans. If the nation really cared, the president would not be frolicking at his ranch for the entire month of August. He'd be back in Washington burning the midnight oil, trying to figure out how to get the troops out of the terrible fix he put them in.
Instead, Mr. Bush is bicycling as soldiers and marines are dying. Dozens have been killed since he went off on his vacation.

He should be back in Washington, putting his three years of Air National Guard experience to work figuring out military stratagems that would extract us from the Iraqi quagmire. Bush’s thoughts are going to be the tipping point, because it’s not like he has anyone else working on the problem. Or maybe it’s Bush that Herbert expects to work the diplomatic angle? Because it strikes me that we also have people working on that one. What exactly does Herbert think Bush is going to be able to do? Even if he came up with a great new idea, Congress ain’t home.
Then there’s the real part:
If the war in Iraq is worth fighting - if it's a noble venture, as the hawks insist it is - then it's worth fighting with the children of the privileged classes. They should be added to the combat mix. If it's not worth their blood, then we should bring the other troops home.
If Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is worth dying for, then the children of the privileged should be doing some of the dying.

Why is that? The military, for as much as liberals like Herbert hate it because it uses those evil guns and makes loud noises that are not conducive to derisive chuckling over a cup of Earl Gray, also provides an avenue for those who can’t afford college to get any of job experience, college funding, or a career. Someone who has the choice between Harvard and the US Army will likely choose the former, and will be exponentially more likely to gain little from the latter. Someone whose choices are the US Army or slingin’ crack rock… well, the benefits are more obvious. And – as unfortunate as it might be – the fact is that the people presently in the military got there voluntarily. They did it knowing the risks, so there’s something to that.

But perhaps the biggest reason it’s not bad that it’s “poor kids” out there is that, when it comes down to it, someone who has a low IQ and isn’t going to otherwise amount to much, dying, isn’t as big of a loss in human capital as a trial lawyer. And he’s more likely to succeed. We should cripple industry to make sure some perverse sense of “fairness” exists in the armed services? Good call, idiot. The Army can serve both as a vehicle for personal enrichment as well as serving the needs of the country, for the poor and uneducated. It can serve only the latter goals for those who would otherwise be college bound. Sacrificing the youth of the ‘rich’ in order to attack a perceived classist injustice is not only bad, but completely irrational. But in typical New York Times fashion, Herbert is just preaching to the choir, not worrying about making an argument.

cranked out at 8:33 AM | |

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