February 12, 2003


My friend Mickey has a post on her blog that I wanted to expand on. It was a subject I was going to blog about, and never got around to. So thanks, Mickey for inspiring me!

I read and hear people who think that President Bush isn't qualified to send troops into battle because he didn't serve in the military (though he was in the National Guard), or because no one in his family is in the military. I admit, this is something I don't get. It's the same train of thought that if you haven't been in the military, you don't have the right to an opinion on matters pertaining to the military.

If some people think military service and children in the military is a meaningful criteria for being President, then should we make it so only persons that meet those criteria can be President? Then that would have to extend to Congress as well, since they're the ones that actually have to authorize a war. Do we want to really limit the pool of elected representatives to only those that have served in the military? Or who have children in the military? (and isn't there a law that you can't be Secretary of Defense if you've been in the military within a certain number of years? I thought I read that a few years back.)

And what about other wartime Presidents? George Washington had no children of his own as far as I know. Lincoln had only one son that lived to adulthood, Tad. Did he serve in the military? Did Lincoln, for that matter? How about FDR? Did either he serve, or have children that did?

Then to the matter of not being allowed to have an opinion at all if you hadn't served. Well, that leaves me out. What else haven't I ever experienced? Let's see... I've never had children, so I guess voting on school board issues is out. Never been a lawyer, so there goes my thoughts on torte reform. Never been a police officer or a fireman, so I can't make decisions regarding public safety issues. The list is endless. If all of us were only allowed to vote on, or have an opinion on, things we actually have experience at, we'd be in a pretty poor state.

So no, President Bush has no children in the military, nor has he been to war. But he is the President, and the responsibility, and the burden, are his. It's the burden that ages presidents years and years in only a handful of time. We elect Presidents knowing that they may have to make hard decisions, that they have to send young men and women to die, and we can only hope that when the time comes, they make the right decision.

This time around, our military is comprised of all volunteers, who signed up for a potentially dangerous job. Our police and firefighters also are in dangerous jobs, but like our military, they protect us despite the dangers -- voluntarily. As a country, we should be proud of our men and women in uniform, no matter how and where they serve.

Posted by Ithildin at February 12, 2003 5:59 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE

Now I may have been the reason for you wanting to expand, but please don't think that I feel that experience is needed to have an opinion. I didn't have an issue with that, the statement just set off my my pet issue of the discrimination against men in regarding to registering with the gov't.

However, in regard to your post, I do have a problem with George W's failure to see his military service through, something he volunteered for. This man was AWOL from the Nat'l Guard, this to me is a slap in the face to those that served/serve. If he understood the suffering of mothers and widows, then he would have been a team player and been there for the rest of his unit, instead, he failed to show for his service to his country, the sons of these women didn't fail to show. Maybe he's learned from that. I can only hope. Rather than understanding the experience, he chose to disregard it.

As far as the people in uniform that serve every day, well, I just came home and hung my uniform up, so we don't even have to go there.

I agree with you that people who haven't experience can still have opinions, but there are some areas where their/your/my opinion just won't weigh in as heavily. Far be for me to offer advice or even attempt to understand a man who's had a vasectomy. And I don't expect solid advice from him or any other man on breast feeding, sure they can tell me that their wife or sister experienced this or that, but it won't be the same.

In regard to your other questions, George Washington raised two children, they were his step children. Lincoln was a Capt in the state militia. Only Robert Lincoln lived to adulthood, he served as an aide to General Grant. Okay. all probably more than you wanted to know, did I mention I almost went with a History degree instead of the English one The Sec'y of Defense - the reasoning behind that is that there is supposed to be a civilian overseer of the military.

Now it's my turn to say sorry for the long post!

Posted by: Annmarie at February 13, 2003 4:00 AM

No, I wasn't using you as an example for my post [g] You just got me started in that direction and it was something I'd been meaning to post about for a while now.

Well, Bill Clinton had no respect for the military at all, and it showed. I know everyone is familiar with the facts, so I won't rehash them. Yet, depsite that, or maybe because the lives of those in the military didn't mean much to him, he sent our troops all over the world. In the case of Somalia, he sent them and left them hanging.

And, this isn't directed at you BTW, just another thought :), I find the hypocrisy on the left astounding. The same people who spit on soldiers that came back from Vietnam, who rioted in Berkeley, who thought it it was the moral thing to do to evade the draft by whatever means, those same people now have the nerve to chastise Bush for not going to Vietnam. Pet peeve of mine, can you tell? Those same people had no problem with Clinton bombing Serbia, sending troops into Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti.

Thanks for filling in the historical info. I did a web search yesterday, but what I found was pretty sketchy! So it would be true to say that none of those wartime Presidents had children in harms way during their wars?

Thanks for commenting! I love the dialouge.

Posted by: Ith at February 13, 2003 8:34 AM

Wasn't Teddy Roosevelt's son a colonel or some such in the Army in the D-Day landings? Nephew to FDR? Truman was a Captain in WWI and Ike's term included the very beginnings of Vietnam (another damn French trap!) George Herbert, the son of a Senator was a Navy Pilot (if Fathers count) Kennedy (Navy) had the Bay of Pigs debacle and the Cuban Missle Crisis, The Nixon years were just plain scary, and Ford was a stand-in. Carter was graduated from the Naval Academy (Nucler Navy I seem to recall)

Here endth the history lesson

Posted by: Jim Gordon at February 13, 2003 2:03 PM

Jim, oh yeah! Now more of it is coming back to me. Thanks for the memory refresher :)

Posted by: Ith at February 13, 2003 3:43 PM

Good post, Ith. I enjoyed that.

Jim: Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was a Brigadier General at the time of the Normandy landings.

A bit off-topic, excuse the digression: Despite faltering health, he performed heroically on Utah Beach: They landed in the wrong place; he yelled, "Hell, we'll start the war from right here then!", and then he hobbled up and down the beach directing the invasion. He needed a cane, and had a bad heart condition that did him in, weeks later, just after he was promoted to two-star and assigned a divisional command.

Two sergeants, from a position of relative safety, watched him shuttling back and forth, slowly, upright, exposed to enemy fire. One growled, "Someone tell that stupid sonofabitch to get down." The other: "You know who that is?" "Yeah, he's Roosevelt and he's gonna get himself killed!" (From Ambrose.)

Posted by: JPS at February 13, 2003 4:43 PM

JPS, thanks so much! I appreciate it.

And thanks for the Roosevelt story. I enjoyed it!

Posted by: Ith at February 13, 2003 5:31 PM