Perception, Reality, the GOP, and the Military

Traditionally, the GOP has been the party of the military. Democrats, by conventional wisdom, are “soft on defense” and not to be trusted defending our nation. Republicans like to spend money on defense, and lots of it.

Unfortunately, it’s become clear that the Right — or at least the Right’s leaders — isn’t nearly so supportive of our men and women in uniform as they have us believe. Our top Republican officials, all Vietnam-era men, either didn’t serve at all (Cheney had “other priorities;” Tom Delay would’ve served, but too many minorities were taking up all the spots) or served with dubious loyalty and commitment. As for the size and expense of the military, Donald Rumsfeld has been working for three years to reduce the size of the force to sub-Clintonian levels, which is hardly a major heading on any set of Republican talking points. Add to this the constant cuts in military support and benefits, and you get a picture that’s not terribly supportive.

It gets worse. During the midterm elections, the GOP ran ads in Georgia comparing then-Senator Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, thereby managing to smear the decorated (Silver Star) triple-amputee Vietnam vet out of office. Now that Cleland is on the talk circuit demanding additional documentation of Bush’s dubious National Guard record, the smear campaign is rolling again. Republican mouthpiece Ann Coulter insists Cleland is a fraud in yet another burst of screed. Fortunately, she’s full of shit, as per usual, but the attacks persist, substantive or not.

How is it these people are our “defense-friendly” party again? How is it this behavior is consistent with the “character” the GOP tells us it has, and that Democrats lack? It’s time to take a hard look at these people, at what they’ve done, and what they will do if they get another term in control.

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