Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rangel Revealed

My apologies to the readers. The blog's been giving me fits.

I’ve argued in previous columns there are those I simply haven’t believed when they’ve said, “I support the troops, but not the war.” I haven’t believed they supported either the troops or the war.

They’ve not shown the courage to say so because they knew the firestorm of criticism they would endure for stating their true thoughts. After all, to do so would put them into treacherous waters where they could be questioned for not supporting America’s sons and daughters who willingly risk so much. If it happened to be a left-leaning politician who held those beliefs, even they, with their accomplices couldn’t afford that kind of criticism with upcoming elections.

But the elections have passed and the tables have turned. The threat of being voted out of office is gone, at least for now, and the courage to say what’s been on some minds is being summoned forth. The intoxication of impending power has provided the courage and we’ve now seen two episodes from those on the left who’ve come forward with their denigration of our troops.

John Kerry was the first and let his slip prematurely. The political environment was such that it wasn’t quite okay for him to say what was on his mind exactly when he did, but he was close enough. But now we have Charlie Rangel’s comments on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace from November 26th to stand as the second episode.

His argument for the draft has now also disclosed his belief that those who serve in the military have no other options in life, so the military is where they end up. They’re not as well-off, they’re not as smart, they are not as capable, and are the down-trodden, so the doors of opportunity are not open to them. They have no other choices. If they had they would certainly have taken them, and were thus forced, by default, to join the military as their last resort in life.

The spirit and intent of his comments are exactly like John Kerry’s. The Congressman is a little more eloquent, but his comments were no less derisive of the military than the Senator’s.

Except for the conservative radio shows yesterday, Monday the 27th, there seems to be no outrage over his statements and belittling of our troops. But then again, the climate has changed.

I know it is hard for some liberals to fathom the thought of patriotism felt so deeply within a person that they choose to sacrifice everything else for their fellow citizens and country. And I know the thought of standing for your country as a patriotic concept can be difficult to grasp for those who often choose the definition of patriotism which pits them against their country, so I’ll cut them a little slack. But don’t belittle those who choose the former and not the latter.

Up to this point Rangel’s been making an argument for the draft because he believed the military was not representative of America at large (economic and racial discrimination inferred). He argued if the military were more representative of America with draftees, lawmakers would be less willing to start a war and send drafted troops into battle than they would an all volunteer force. Fair enough thought process if his assumptions about the composition of the military were correct.

But, a detailed Heritage Foundation study spurred by his comments debunked that argument some time ago with regard to all the demographic groups Mr. Rangel believed were being forced into the military. In fact, that study found the opposite of Mr. Rangel’s argument. It found the military to be more diverse than the population at large and that the average military member is better educated and comes from households with higher incomes than their peers.

I know from our battalion of reserve Marines in Iraq we had plenty who took a pay cut when they were mobilized. In fact, the discrepancy in pay was so great for some of our enlisted Marines it created hardships for their families. We had Marines with graduate degrees and high level management positions in Fortune 500 companies.

There were enlisted Marines I served alongside who put high salaried computer programming jobs or the pursuit of a law degree on hold. Our battalion surgeon volunteered for the Navy Reserve to join the war on terror. He is one of the very few pediatric heart surgeons in the United States; certainly not a man without choices in life.

The angry parents and spouses of service members flooded some of the radio talk shows Monday with the stories of why their husband, wife, son, or daughter gave up scholarships, high paying jobs, or other opportunities to go fight.

So, Congressman Rangel simply made an incorrect scientific hypothesis. Honest mistake, had it been left at that.

But, the truth about his view of the troops was laid bare on Sunday as he expanded his argument and continued to speak about the troops and their deficiencies with respect to the rest of society. The truth is he doesn’t think much of us. In the end, his position and comments weren’t what anyone could call “supportive.”

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