Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Sunday Feeling

My friend George put up a post on Facebook earlier this week. I grew up with George. Played ball with him. We are two different people but we get along despite our differences. One of the differences is that George evidently listens to Rush Limbaugh because his post sounded an awful lot like some of the nonsense that Limbaugh puts out to the faithful on Twitter.

Anyway, George's post was to the effect of " Why is President Obama questioning the finest military minds of our era while our soldiers are dying?" The reason I suspect this post has its origin in a Limbaugh tweet is that you have to assume at least 3 things to ground the question in any sort of reality. Which is SOP for Limbaugh. Let's talk about them. Or I'll talk about them. You can read it if you like.

1) President Obama is meddling. Of course, this is not true. Pursuant to the Constitution, he is the Commander-in-Chief. And Presidents have long clashed with the military.

2) Generals David Patraeus and Stanley McChrystal are the finest military minds of our era. These two gentleman are certainly fine soldiers, patriots and military leaders. But these sorts of decisions are best left to history and not in the fog of war. In any event, that sort of hyperbole is best reserved for that day when George S. Patton and Omar Bradley return from the dead and take over the Command.

3) Which leads you-or causes you to stumble toward- the conclusion that this is why soldiers are dying in the field. Of course, this is not true. Soldiers would be dying in the field even if Obama blindly signed off on every recommendation from the brass.

But the folks that follow Limbaugh are not deconstructionists. They are, after all, dittoheads.

So I asked George if he thought soldiers wouldn't be dying in the field if Obama agreed with McChrystal. I also told him that I was reading a book by James MacPherson called "Lincoln at War-Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief and how, in the Foreword, MacPherson wrote that Lincoln understood that that military action cannot be considered in a vacuum. Military decisions cannot be divorced from politics. Politics make the policy and policy drives the decisions.

George merely disagreed. But one of his friends responded to our entirely civil conversation by calling me a "dickweed" and saying that Obama was basically ruining the country and he urged me to buy guns, gold and ammo.

Now this was just one guy popping off. But I haven't heard so much paranoid and apocalyptic discourse since Y2K when the phones and computers were supposed to crash at midnight New Year's Day and it was predicted that welfare cheats from the Delta were going to invade Huntsville.

A friend of mine is of the opinion that a quarter of the electorate is insane. I don't know about that but to suggest that President Obama shouldn't be questioning the advice from his military subordinates suggests a basic political and historical illiteracy-remember Sarah Palin suggesting that sharp questioning from reporters violated her 1st Amendment rights to free speech?-that I find disturbing.

Maybe I'm making too much of this. After all, a recent editorial piece by conservative columnist David Brooks cited statistics that tended to show that the influence of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in actually affecting the vote was highly overrated. I sure hope so. Not so much because I disagree with their point of view-which I do-but that they are irresponsible.

All I know is that I am glad that Abraham Lincoln didn't have to arrive at his gut wrenching decisions about military matters in the age of Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle where people shout at Congressmen and references to Obama as a "nazi" are taken at face value.

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