I can't believe I let the whole month of July slip by entirely without making mention of Paul Krugman's excellent July 4th op-ed piece, Sacrifice is for Suckers.
If the following is to be read as an indictment, I don't exempt myself. I'm a rather unrepentant owner of a Chevy Suburban (it's hard to fit all of us into anything else), and I can't claim that I've been spending my evenings putting care packages together for the troops, even though I know a few of them. I haven't been writing to my senator or my congressman about the war, and they haven't seen me down at the local VA Hospital offering to volunteer either, so shame on me... Nevertheless, a special responsibility and burden lies with those who preach to us the most that Iraq is the central and crucial front in the "War on Terror". Most of them haven't done a very good job of picking that burden up themselves (at least John McCain, with a son in Iraq, can say that he has skin in the game).
You've all probably seen the ad campaigns for those vehicles based upon the military Humvee design. They're what some people call FUVs (F*** You Vehicles). Hummer. Like Nothing Else. That's certainly true, but all double-entendres aside, let's have a look at a makeshift brochure.
The Hummer H1
Retail Price: $139,771
Dealer Invoice: $131,335
Miles per Gallon: 16
The Hummer H2
Retail Price: $59,555
Dealer Invoice: $54,311
Miles per Gallon: 10
A Military Humvee
Disabled by an Improvised Explosive Device
This one might be armored, but I don't think they all are yet.
You know, I've voted Republican in a lot of national elections, but I think something has gone seriously, seriously askew in this country after having imbibed so heavily of Reaganist thought for so long.
Krugman's gem, in total:
On this Fourth of July, President Bush compared the Iraq war to the Revolutionary War, and called for “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.” Unfortunately, it seems that nobody asked the obvious question:
“What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”
On second thought, there would be no point in asking that question. In Mr. Bush’s world, only the little people make sacrifices. You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.
This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of “Bring them on” has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite — especially the Republican elite — have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield.
The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost of those fights or bearing any of the risks. Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any personal or professional penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution.
The Web site Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war after we didn’t find W.M.D., and weren’t welcomed as liberators: “The architects of war: Where are they now?” To read that summary is to be awed by the comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who managed the rare feat of messing up not one but two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.
Which brings us to the case of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.
The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”
Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.
What lay behind the hysteria, of course, was the prospect that for the very first time one of the people who tricked America into war, then endangered national security yet again in the effort to cover their tracks, might pay some price. But Mr. Ajami needn’t have worried.
Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.” Now we know what he meant. Mr. Bush hasn’t challenged the verdict in the Libby case, and other people convicted of similar offenses have spent substantial periods of time in prison. But Mr. Libby goes free.
Oh, and don’t fret about the fact that Mr. Libby still had to pay a fine. Does anyone doubt that his friends will find a way to pick up the tab?
Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains “harsh” because his reputation is “forever damaged.” Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.
In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.
In the same vein, please see AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country, and articles by the author on a similar theme at http://www.frankschaeffer.com/.