Why Voters Should Pay Attention to The National Guard
Fabulous article by William Saletan in Slate
about why Bush's weak service in the National Guard (including the uncontroversial bits, like never signing up again after starting business school at Harvard) matter deeply in this election year. "Bush's abuse of the Guard in Iraq is what makes his abuse of the Guard during Vietnam an important consideration in this election."
The fact that 40,000 National Guard troops are stationed in Iraq today exemplifies everything that is wrong with this administration. Instead of defending the homeland--as they are uniquely qualified to do, and as they signed up to do--they are mired in a poorly planned war. It's only relationship to the war on terror is to make the problem worse.
The article ends by noting that the members of the Guard receiving two speeches, one from Kerry and one from Bush, responded to Bush with applause and Kerry with silence. Saletan seems to think that this is because the Guard is hoodwinked and blindly loyal to its commander chief and former member. I don't think this is a necessary conclusion. First of all, the audience at a National Guard Association meeting is, by definition, not likely to be composed of the people stationed in Iraq. Secondly, it is more likely to be composed of officers--and people knowing their officers are watching them. Travelling to Las Vegas costs money. Most of my veteran friends have told me in the past that the officer corps tends to be most loyally Republican, while the enlisted men and women may lean Democratic but hide that from their officers
. I don't know how to empirically verify that, nor do I know how that applies to the Guard, but it seems quite plausible. A person may applaud one candidate but vote for another.
Regardless of the willingness of members of the Guard to dive into any assignment, however, it is the duty of the rest of us in the Republic to make sure that their pledge of sacrifice and obedience is not used wrongly or ineffectually. We are blessed with a disciplined military that is fairly obedient to the civilian Republic it serves, and we should not let that obedience turn into a complete horror. "Go, stranger, and tell the Lacadaemonians that we lie here, obedient to their words.
" If our fellow citizens must die, let us try to ensure that, like the three hundred at Thermopylae
, their deaths are pointed towards a worthy cause.
It's a good column. Good numbers, great quotes from the National Guard recruiting website, and an important note that at least one Guardsman is trying to do something about Bush's misuse
. Please go read it
. Pass it around. Remember it when you vote.