Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chickenhawk Newt

I don't want to be accused of not being evenhanded in my coverage of the GOP Presidential candidates.  I know I've been spending too many entries on Mitt Romney lately, but he's made himself such an easy target. Releasing his tax returns on the day that President Obama is delivering a State of the Union speech concentrating on our inequitable tax system written by and for the rich? What was he thinking? Why wasn't he thinking?  But this isn't about Mitt.  This is about Chickenhawk Newt.
You need to read this Vanity Fair article by Peter Boyer from 1989, "Good Newt, Bad Newt," about how Newt was horrible long before his Freddie Mac lobbying and his recent race baiting, but the story that needs to be as well known as Romney's Dog on the Roof is the story of hawkish Newt's Vietnam War experience.  He was old enough to serve, but he didn't.
Sure enough, he found himself listed among a sizable group of noted conservative hawks (including George Will and Richard Perle) who had managed to avoid the war-the "war wimps," as they came to be called. In 1985, he told Jane Mayer of The Wall Street Journal that he still believed that "Vietnam was the right battlefield at the right time." Why didn't he go? "Given everything I believe in, a large part of me thinks I should have gone over," he allowed. But, recovering, he added, "Part of the question I had to ask myself was what difference I would have made."
What if every young draftee and volunteer asked what difference they would make in the course of any war.  You're young. You're patriotic. You're cannon fodder. You don't ask questions. Newt's sense of grandiosity is not a new thing. It's hard to imagine him volunteering for any military service as less than commander in chief (maybe, in a pinch, head of the joint chiefs of staff).

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