I have made a rather odd discovery of late. Traditionally, the Left has been the strongest proponent of the separation of church and state. But it’s the left that has instituted a new class of saints, those blessed and beloved by God that they are above all criticism, of whom any questioning of their words and deeds is the highest blasphemy.
And who are these beatified people of whom I speak? Why, liberal veterans, of course.
Any man or woman who serves our nation honorably is to be respected and appreciated. They have done what many of us have not — they have placed themselves in harm’s way to protect all of us.
But that doesn’t make them infallible, doesn’t lift them above petty politics, and certainly does not make them worthy of unquestioned obedience.
For example, John Murtha. Murtha, a former Marine, had a very distinguished career and volunteered for service in Viet Nam. He retired a full bird colonel before running for public office — that, plus his medals, show that he was an exceptional Marine.
But that says nothing about his qualifications for high office — or, at least, not infallible as such. Murtha, like any other member of Congress, is subject to the same evaluations of his statements, policies, votes, and other conduct — including his brush with scandal in Abscam, his notion of maintaining our power in the Middle East from Okinawa — 5,000 miles away.
For another, John Kerry. Kerry served honorably in Viet Nam as well, winning several medals and being wounded. But since then, the man has done virtually nothing anywhere near as noteworthy. In fact, with the single exception of his lead role in the BCCI investigation, his accomplishments have been rather remarkable: he’s married not one, but two millionaire heiresses; blew off about 90% of the votes in Congress while he was running for president; and was essentially a big zero in the Senate until he ran for president.
This is a fairly recent development. In 1992 and 1996, the Republicans nominated two distinguished veterans — in at least one case, a certified hero — for president. In both cases, they were defeated by someone who had not only never served, but pulled every scheme he could think of to avoid putting on his nation’s uniform. It was announced then that the Viet Nam war was over and done with, and it was time to put it all behind us.
The logical extension of this argument is to institute a Heinleinesque “only veterans can hold high elected office.” This would be a catastrophic blow to several groups — women, who are institutionally denied the chance to win fame and honor on the field of battle, for one. For another, it would deal a devastating blow to the notion of civilian control of the military. For a third reason, traditionally veterans have sided more with the Republican party than the Democrats.
On Saturday, we paid honor to all who have served our nation by putting on the uniform, taking up arms, and risking their lives to defend all of us. But to grant them such things as infallibility, refusing to question their judgment in matters political, and to say that to disagree with their ideas and positions and statements is to insult their service and question their patriotism is fundamentally wrong.
Because let’s never forget that other men have served their country honorably as well, and no one would say that men such as Timothy McVeigh and Randy “Duke” Cunningham are above reproach for their service. Also, let’s not forget that Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon were also Navy veterans of World War II.