Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

"HOW A DEMOCRAT CAN GET MY VOTE"....Our June issue has a pretty provocative set of short pieces called "How a Democrat Can Get My Vote." The pieces are written by seven recent war veterans and offer competing perspectives on how a Democratic presidential candidate can win the votes of the active duty military.

The whole package is here, but there were two pieces in particular that I feel like highlighting. The first, by Ross Cohen, a former paratrooper and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is probably the one that liberal readers are going to find most congenial. It's called "Withdraw Decisively":

A candidate who proposes a speedy withdrawal need not fear an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the troops. That would be the result only for a candidate whose position seemed camouflaged in fuzzy language and hedged bets. The "Fighting Dems" — Democratic veterans such as Jim Webb, who ran for largely Republican-leaning congressional seats this year — represented a good start at speaking clearly.

....In November 2004, most of my colleagues, officers and enlisted alike, voted to reelect George Bush in spite of the fact that he had sent them to fight a poorly planned war being waged for ever-shifting rationales. They overlooked these flaws because his firmness inspired their confidence. If Democrats come out with equal firmness for withdrawal, they may find themselves picking up some unexpected new military votes. The men and women of the military fear, above all else, someone who will abandon them to the kill zone. They want someone who will lead them through it.

Cohen's piece is followed by a bracing dose of castor oil served up by Clint Douglas, a former staff sergeant in the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) who served in Afghanistan in 2003. Douglas is a Yellow Dog Democrat, but even so his advice is not likely to be so well received:

Conservatives appear genuinely to respect people in the service. They don't just assume that soldiers are economic victims or refugees from an unfair free market. They might even allow that one could enjoy soldiering without being a nut, a sadist, or a fascist.

Most of my non-Army friends would identify themselves as liberals or progressives or Democrats. My experience may be atypical, because I tend to hang around with opinionated people, but nearly all of them, I find, are suspicious of the military. "They'll change you," most warned after I announced my intention to enlist. "Don't do it." One acquaintance suggested psychotherapy instead. (This was my personal favorite in patronizing offensiveness.)

....My peers in this group have no qualms about holding forth about the armed forces, an institution with which they have no experience. Worse, when the windiness has subsided, they have no concrete suggestions on defense policy. They'll do butter, but they won't do guns.

Also worth noting is Andrew Exum's "Understand the War We're In." His advice is simple: "The destruction of the Army and Marine Corps stemmed from a failure of the Bush administration — its greatest failure: the inability to articulate or even understand what kind of war we're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere....I'll carefully read and listen to the statements that come from the Democratic candidates. Because if they really get it, if they properly articulate the nature of the war that began on September 11, then a Democrat will earn my vote in 2008."

Phil Carter starts things off here. The entire package is here.

Kevin Drum 1:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (117)

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Comments

The Republicans take the military vote for granted at their peril. If their record gets scrutinized, then the remaining support erodes further - and the split is now pretty even, whereas in the past, the R's enjoyed around 60% of the military vote.

Remember the phenomenon has already played out in the last election - the KS-02, which is home to both Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley, turned out Jim Ryun in favor of Democrat Nancy Boyda. Lest anyone dismiss the significance of the military vote in the Boyda victory, let me just point out that the career military personnel and their spouses tend to vote where they are stationed, especially if they have children in the school system.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

The men and women of the military fear, above all else, someone who will abandon them to the kill zone. They want someone who will lead them through it.

Wesley Clark. Ideally, Clark/Obama.

Posted by: bob on May 24, 2007 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Earn their vote...good god. We have massive corruption and shocking incompetence hardly a single worthy accomplishment to show for this Republican White House. But these guys are saying that they'll vote Republican again unless it's proven to them that the alternative is dead-perfect. I see. Kill me. Now.

Posted by: djangone on May 24, 2007 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

I'll defer to B.G.R.S. in regards to recent and local voting patterns.

This whole theme, though, gets to the core of what I feel is the problem with electoral politics.

I have a good friend who just got back from Baghdad, his 3rd or 4th tour. He's staunchly pro-Democratic Party, as are most of his friends that I've met.

I'm sure there are just as many people in the service who see things differently.

The problem arises when candidates and their advisers see these separate groups (military, blacks, gays, blah,blah,blah) as monolithic groups that vote as a group. They don't!

Instead of tailoring a message to each individual group, the candidate would be better served just staking out a position, stating it forcefully, and sticking to it.

Now, it would be great if they were progressive positions that people could rally around, but people want to know their leaders aren't flying by the seat of their pants and catering to every voting bloc in the country.

Posted by: bigcat on May 24, 2007 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

Douglas is off the rails a bit. Who was it that let Walter Reed rot? I could go on. Personally, I don't think "They'll change you" in the army. I don't know where this guy gets off saying that. I think both sides have set preconceived notions at most.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on May 24, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

"The men and women of the military fear, above all else, someone who will abandon them to the kill zone."

Perhaps they've realized by now that Bush's "firmness" is that of a cancer-ridden breast with silicon implants.

Posted by: Kenji on May 24, 2007 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah yeah yeah, boo hoo, everybody hates the military. Those guys are a bunch of weenies. Always whining about how nobody supports them, when everybody supports them. All that made-up crap about Vietnam vets spitting on them. Boo hoo. I bet actuaries feel unappreciated too. Get over it.

How many in the military still think Iraq caused 9/11?

Oh yeah, and every time they fight they say they're "fighting for freedom" and "keeping us free." You know what, every country in the world has an army. And they're not all free. Armies do not equal freedom.

Posted by: chris on May 24, 2007 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Bigcat hits the right notes. As of today, it's a volunteer force, we come from pretty much all walks of life (save the wealthiest classes) and we are not a monolithic group. We are just ordinary people who made a different choice than 98% of our fellow citizens. (And no thanks are necessary if the service member is serving for the right reasons. In fact, nobody ever said "thank you" before this mess erupted.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Well, I just finished reading all of the articles and felt each had its merits. That said, that every person who has served recently makes different points is to be expected. Ultimately, I don't think any Dem can expect to receive a lot of military votes, even after the Iraq debacle. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I just don't see it.

Posted by: KC on May 24, 2007 at 3:07 AM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of thoughtful individuals that make up those cohesive units, and there are a whole lot of us who grew up in the military and who embrace Liberal values - not because we rebel against a military upbringing, but because we internalized the values we grew up with. Values like social mobility and equal access to services. Equal access to health care, and decent schools. One set of rules that applied to everyone.

There is a natural constituency there, if they have the sense to cultivate it - without being condescending pricks.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

This article is moot - Democrats have just written their own political obituaries by backing down from the setting a time-table for withdrawal from Iraq. You can argue political leanings and platforms all you want, but the sine qua non for the Democrats gaining majorities in both houses was that they provided the only alternative when it came to the war. They were sent to Washington with one main obligation: bring the troops home. The Democrats now appear to be a party of spineless, clueless, and unforgivably gullible Neville Chamberlains.

This is the Democrats "read my lips, no new taxes" moment - and for what? This goes beyond squandered what little good will the voting public has for them, this is outright betrayal; they are stabbing the people who voted for them in the face.

The approval rating for congress is on par with the president's; meanwhile, opposition to the war is in the 70% range. Caving in to Bush and retreating on a timetable defies all reason and comprehension.

If Democrats don't force Pelosi and Reid to step down over this, we might well be kissing the slim majorities goodbye in '08. The public's brief flirtation with the Democrats will be over and this nation will continue to slide down this ugly path under Republican control.

Just. Flipping. Unbelievable.

Posted by: Augustus on May 24, 2007 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, the dems caved, but we would be in even worse shape if our midterm elections had not installed more democrats/progressives.
This has ensured the current and important oversight of this devastatingly corrupt administration by dems in various house and senate committees. We are better off than we were a year ago--oversight has been totally absent for years.
We must keep the faith!
Try to stay positive.

Posted by: consider wisely on May 24, 2007 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

This article is moot - Democrats have just written their own political obituaries by backing down from the setting a time-table for withdrawal from Iraq.

You’re right Augustus and I want to know who’s responsible for the decision. Was it just Pelosi and Reid? We need to find out and do something about it.

Posted by: antiphone on May 24, 2007 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Dems should pay special attention to "Conservatives appear genuinely to respect people in the service" -- pointing out that this is only "appear" and that the GOP is not willing to provide proper body armor, planning, post-combat medical care, or much of anything else that would demonstrate real respect for service people. If you want lip service, vote GOP.

Posted by: focus on May 24, 2007 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

Keith Olbermann had a riveting special comment about the caving of our democrats today.
It addressed the admiminstration as well.
Worth reviewing.

Posted by: consider wisely on May 24, 2007 at 4:15 AM | PERMALINK

Gallup poll: Bush at lowest at 32, only 18% of the public feel the country is going in the right direction. Only 26% are identifying themselves as republicans. Please stay positive, dear progressives. Dropping out in disgust now would be the worst thing we could do.

Posted by: consider wisely on May 24, 2007 at 4:55 AM | PERMALINK

Who decided to drop the Iraq timetable? It looks like David Obey had a hand in it.

The White House grudgingly agreed to accept the added spending in exchange for Democrats dropping restrictions on military operations.

In fact, Democrats initially offered to strip all of the additional money beyond Bush's $103 billion request in exchange for a timetable to end the war in Iraq. But the White House said no; the timetable was dropped and most of the money stayed.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., a top negotiator, said any unhappiness among Republicans over the additional money pales when compared to disappointment from Democrats forced to drop the Iraq timetable.

"I'm sure they are (unhappy)," Obey said, "but not nearly as unhappy as we are that the administration won't encounter reality on this stupid war."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070523/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

Posted by: antiphone on May 24, 2007 at 5:16 AM | PERMALINK

Clint Douglas has a view of liberals that has been adopted by the mainstream media and indeed by many of the posters at this and other center-left sites -- think "liberal", and you think "affluent white urbanite". Not so. African-Americans are, overwhelmingly, liberals. Hispanics are, for the most part, liberals. That's how they vote, so that's what they are. And they don't have the notions of the military that Douglas notes.

Posted by: captcrisis on May 24, 2007 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

But is the military vote really that important in the first place? I mean, how many people are there in the armed forces? A couple of hundred thousands? And how many of them actually vote?

Posted by: mg56 on May 24, 2007 at 6:26 AM | PERMALINK

What a joke. Every Dem in national office falls all over themselves praising "the troops." There could be an Haditha a day, and that wouldn't change.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on May 24, 2007 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

The first guy is probably an independant. The second guy is clearly a partisan Republican. It should be noted that the military has plenty of those, and that they are not worth pursuing. To go after them would be the same as going after anti-choice or pro-business votes. A temporary benefit that severely weakens the party in the long term.

Posted by: soullite on May 24, 2007 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

mg56: try about 2.6 million without counting spouses,parents,brothers/sisters and blood family.

liberals...blacks,hispanics mostly liberal?? no, those that vote dem. are not liberals,they vote for those..dems...who shower them with the most money/programs.

augustus and kc both nailed it.the dems had no intention of stopping funding...it was a politics at its worst...playing on the fears/passions of a country at war...yes, it is a war...and having no intent at all of following through with their "promises".the dems did not sell out..they "lied" about their goal..to win..and used the blood of soldiers and the pain of a nation to achieve it.

Wesley Clark...if this is a serious post...would be disaster for dems and america. this guy almost started WWIII. look it up. he did not just step down as nato commander, clinton loved this guy but he screwed up big time...the consummate "political" general.

Posted by: average american on May 24, 2007 at 7:42 AM | PERMALINK

World War III would require more than anything Clark almost did. Starting a minor skirmish with another power would be unlikely to lead to war unless those nations have real, vital national interests. This isn't 1914 where half the world is subject to the whim of kings and the paranoia of their courts.

World War III will begin when the world starts running out of gas, and both the US and CHINA will need massive amounts of it. Until then, there's nothing big enough to start a war between 2 powers that would drag in various allied and client states.

Posted by: soullite on May 24, 2007 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats have just written their own political obituaries by backing down from the setting a time-table for withdrawal from Iraq.

They don't have the votes in Congress to make it stick. They can't override a veto without Republican support, and they don't have enough.

Why don't the Augustuses of the world understand (or maybe, admit)that it takes 66 votes in the senate to override a veto??

Posted by: rea on May 24, 2007 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

The individuals I know who served recently did so in part for economic reasons or, in one case, to clean up their act. They all were loyal and patriotic, but without the economic incentive (and need) they would never have joined. That's a lot of the way the military recruits -- especially college money.

Ever GI I knew from my generation (b. 1946) a low-ranking draftee, and few have good stories to tell. That's at least half a dozen good friends, and more acquaintances.

It's a fact that the officer corps is heavily Republican, and at least one of the recent GIs I knew came out somewhat indoctrinated.

I don't know how far Democrats should go to please Clint Douglas. He seems to want uncritical affirmation and the denial of things we know. It sounds like his friends or ex-friends were pretty unfriendly to him, but if he enlisted during the Bush administration there are pretty good reasons why people should have tried to warm him off.

Posted by: John Emerson on May 24, 2007 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah right....particularly the sarge. First of all I am a combat veteran of the Vietnam war. What these guys are saying is pure bullshit. They just drank the kool aid..that is all. I have many combat veteran friends, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam are all represented. Let me be blunt: NOT A FUCKING ONE THINKS LIKE THESE FAKES!.
This is GOP crap.

Posted by: Richard on May 24, 2007 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

I have some issues with SSgt Douglas' statements.

Respect and adulation are two different things - sometimes they overlap, but they can be often mutually exclusive. Furthermore, more than 90% of friends and acquaintances I have met that enlisted(to become enlisted personnel - not officers) did so for pre-dominantly economic reasons(some of those friends were actual economic refugees.) I nearly did the same. A subset of those, and the remaining 10%, had what could be described as a "gun fetish" and only a casual attachment to the Constitution. And I still get chills hearing about the guys who signed up "to get into firefights."

Insofar as his being offended by suggestions that the military would change him, or anyone who joined, well, consider this.
How would he react, if in a public place, someone within several feet of him, and behind, shouted "Ten-hut!!!" at the top of their lungs? I'd be really fucking surprised if he didn't start to snap to attention - he might not finish coming to attention, but his reflexes would start propelling him fully upright.
A psychologist would probably describe that as a result of "operant conditioning"; a layperson might use the term "brainwashing."
Regardless, anyone who denies that basic training has as one of its primary goals, to alter(or eliminate) individualistic thought and action in favor of group cohesiveness and hierarchical decision-making, is not being honest - either with themselves, or with you.

I'd like to hear SSgt Douglas' thoughts on the Iron Triangle(aka military-industrial complex) and if it bothers him that part of the reason he lost men is so that Boeing and Raytheon can "increase shareholder value." Or how he feels about high-ranking officers retiring to go work for defense contractors, while a functional, deployable, vehicular anti-RPG system has been rejected in favor of one that will not be deployable for at least another 3-5 years.

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

mg56 wrote:

"But is the military vote really that important in the first place? I mean, how many people are there in the armed forces? A couple of hundred thousands? And how many of them actually vote?"
______________________

There are 1.3 million in the military and every unit has someone appointed to help troops get absentee ballots or answer questions about voting.

But, of larger importance are all the people related to people in the military. The Democrats can reach these family members, many of whom don't understand the military themselves. To such people, stories like Walter Reed resonate, while actual military members think, "Yeah, well, so what's new?" The same generals fired for a shitty outpatient billeting facility were largely responsible for creating the outstanding care of the wounded in country. That they were essentially fired for not being media smart is something that military people also understand.

The Democratic message of showing they care for the troops by trying to remove them from danger and promising better VA care could appeal to those related to military members. It doesn't sell to the military themselves, who know their jobs are dangerous and continue to sign up, anyway.

Posted by: trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

"My peers in this group have no qualms about holding forth about the armed forces, an institution with which they have no experience."

This attitude drive me nuts. Every day we all hold forth on things with which we have no experience. Have you ever produced or directed a movie? No? Then you can't tell us what you think of that movie you saw last weekend. Have you ever been elected to office? No? Then you can't express your political opinions. Everybody would agree that is completely silly.

But say one unkind word about the military or their history (i.e., Vietnam) and the response is, "You never served. You don't know."

Posted by: Wally on May 24, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Cohen: They overlooked these flaws because his firmness inspired their confidence.

Douglas: Conservatives appear genuinely to respect people in the service.

Have people always been this gullible? Not the authors so much as that part of the population that believes pretty much whatever they are told by an authority figure. Why is it "conservatives" are suspicious of the Govt when it comes to taxes and gun rights, but pretty much any other govt intervention is just fine?

Posted by: mezon on May 24, 2007 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not forget that Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones, NC-3 home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune, while nominally still a Republican (turncoat former Dem) has voted with Dems against the war.

The last Military Times poll in December shows plainly the US miiltary no longer has faith in Bush's war in Iraq. I don't expect the DoD will allow another poll.

Posted by: markg8 on May 24, 2007 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Just to clarify...I was talking about the general population. Polls have shown about the same breakdown of political affiliation in the mil and gen pop. Both groups (ie everyone) seems to have about the same degree of "gullibility" or lack of scepticism when it comes to govt intentions.

Posted by: mezon on May 24, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Wally,

When they take that attitude tell them about stuff you do know about and they don't. Like the polls here:

http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/pollindex.htm

Posted by: markg8 on May 24, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

trashy wrote: That they were essentially fired for not being media smart is something that military people also understand.

I certainly concede that the Democratic message won't sell to dishonest partisans like yourself, in the military and out, trashy. Way to give those responsible for the disgraceful conditions at the Walter Reed facility a pass -- but hey, anything for the Party, right?

Shame on you, trashy.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2007 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

"In November 2004, most of my colleagues, officers and enlisted alike, voted to reelect George Bush in spite of the fact that he had sent them to fight a poorly planned war being waged for ever-shifting rationales. They overlooked these flaws because his firmness inspired their confidence."

I hate to sound callous, and I don't think I have ever posted any comment along these lines here before, but after reading this comment, assuming it is true, well, I do not feel quite as sorry for our troops, then, for their having to remain in the middle of this Middle Eastern mess. If they themselves truly supported Bush in 2004 as Cohen claims, then they are partially to blame for their own situation. If they would rather base their decisions (and risk their lives) on proven empty but confident words, as opposed to proven incompetent actions and actual decisions, well, then my sympathies for their plight being stuck in this mess are somewhat reduced.

Posted by: bubba on May 24, 2007 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

The real lesson to take away from these commentaries is that the Democratic Party Presidential candidate must explain why we must leave Iraq. They need to explain to the American people that we are losing by staying in Iraq. And repeat it over and over again and point to experts who agree with them.

If we don't explain what is happening the Republican media machine and politicians will gladly do so in ways that benefit their them and define us as 'traitors'
I know Edwards understands this, but does not always communicate effectively. I believe Clinton understands this but is holding back, I need an indication from her that after the nomination she will unload on the Republicans daily. Obama's happy talk worries me the most. I love the guys charisma but by not taking on the Republican world view he is trapped by it. And if you are a Democrat trapped in a Republican world view you are going to lose.

Posted by: Northern Observer on May 24, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Why don't the Augustuses of the world understand (or maybe, admit)that it takes 66 votes in the senate to override a veto??"

True, it does take a 2/3rds vote to override a veto. But that isn't the issue here and is only misleading. The Dems do not need to do anything. They provided a full funding bill. The money was provided. The President chose to veto it and refuse funding that he needs to continue his war. The Dems have another option--sitting tight and doing nothing. The current funds run out this summer. Without the funds, the troops will need to be brought home. They would be brought home safely regardless. The Dems can tell Bush that due to his obstinence, and his direct opposition to the will of the American people, that he can have full funding with the timelines and benchmarks they provided, or he will get nothing and he and the military need to plan on withdrawal this summer.

Posted by: bubba on May 24, 2007 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union address. Just plug in 'military-industrial-national security-complex' for 'slavery', and his argument still holds

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 24, 2007 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

the dems did not sell out..they "lied" about their goal..to win..and used the blood of soldiers and the pain of a nation to achieve it.

Typical Radical Rightwing projection. Replace "dems" with "neo cons" or "Bushies," and you will have assembled a true statement.

Posted by: Baldrick on May 24, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Bubba is correct -- the Democrats did not have to pass a bill. Further, once Bush vetoed the first bill, the Democrats should have quickly followed it up with another bill giving the troops a raise and funding a quick withdrawal.

This would have said two things: one, we support the troops; two, the troops will not be "stuck" in Iraq because of a lack of funding.

But Reid and Pelosi DID lie about their goals. And they are lying still. The last few months have been about the November winners lining their pockets with contributions and perks. Murtha's house floor tirade was only the most visible evidence of this.

Posted by: HKH on May 24, 2007 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

gregory wrote:

"I certainly concede that the Democratic message won't sell to dishonest partisans like yourself, in the military and out, trashy. Way to give those responsible for the disgraceful conditions at the Walter Reed facility a pass -- but hey, anything for the Party, right?"
______________________

Trust you to see party in everything posted, greg. But then, that's all you've got going for you in the whole wide world, isn't it?

Tell us, greg, who were the primary architects of our deployed medical care in Iraq and Afghanistan? For that matter, how many buildings do you imagine the top Army medical officer has responsibility for around the world? Shit, you don't even know how many buildings are at Walter Reed.

That the outpatient building was substandard was a failure in leadership and management. In normal times, the discovery of it would have led to corrective action and some sharp words inside the military medical community. But these not being normal times, the discovery led to the dismissal of people with vastly more on their plates than one building. Scalp-taking is all well and good, I suppose. But it takes callous political types to revel in such things.

Things just as bad as that outpatient building all over government usually go unnoticed because pointing them out doesn't help anyone politically at a given moment. And such things will happen (have happened) when a Democrat is in the White House. You'll be silent about such things, then, just as you were in the past.

So take your shame and shove it, you hypocrite.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

It's funny to hear Democratic consultants talk about "the military vote" because they usually base their opinions on the most rudimentary data.

In a Midwest state (I can't talk in specifics) we did a poll last summer asking potential voters their opinions and positions.

The poll showed, not surprisingly, that those in the military, and those with family in the military, were more likely to vote Republican, support the war, etc.

I remember a member of the polling team stating with glee "see, those in the military don't believe the Democrats are strong enough on national defence, etc etc."

I could only laugh. I said the following: let's pull out the data on the military and rerun the data based on the following: gun ownership, views on gay marriage, views on religion and flag burning.

You won't be surprised to learn that the results came in exactly the same: we were able to identify the same voters.

So, what is it . . . do members of the military vote Republican because they believe the Dems are soft on defence? Or is it the other dozen issues that also align themselves up with the Republicans?

In other words, if someone is against gay marriage, pro-life, evangelical, an NRA member and against flag burning -- do you really need to know if they are in the military to know how they will vote?

(Understand, I am not saying that people in the military hold the above views -- just that you can not simplify things by saying military families = Republican. Its the whole picture of positions that determine things. We found that if you were pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, but you were in the military, you stood a better than 80% chance of being a Democrat -- no matter what your view of the Democrats on defense was.)

In the end, trying to go after the military vote is futile unless you align yourself on a whole range of issues -- do the Dems really want to do that?

Posted by: Dicksknee on May 24, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

trashhauler - who threw the officers responsible for Walter Reed and deployed medical care in Afghanistan under the bus? I'm guessing it would have to be someone who had legal authority over them. Who maybe wanted to divert blame ...

Hmmm?

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I merely warned someone that he was about to go to work for those people who made treaties with the Indians.

One day into the military he phoned and said that they had already broken their agreement with him.

Sigh.

Posted by: Scorpio on May 24, 2007 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

> Douglas: Conservatives appear genuinely
> to respect people in the service.

While those self-same conservatives vote to underfund the VA (even though they know full well that an avalanche of needs is approaching), cut soldiers' pay, underfund armor upgrades and other beans-and-bullets requirements while simultaneously funding boondoggles such as the Airborne Laser and other donor-friendly big contracts. And oh yeah, they vote to send the Regulars, then the Reserves, then the Guard on tour after tour of Iraq while NOT voting for (1) a draft (2) a tax increase.

But they "respect" the troops. Yeah.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 24, 2007 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

If Democrats come out with equal firmness for withdrawal

They'll have to grow some balls first. I'm disgusted. The Dems have thrown in the towel on timetables and once again allowed a weak, incompetent President and corrupt Republican party to frame the debate. How is it that the Congress can send the Prez a funding bill, he vetoes it, and it becomes the Dems not supporting/funding the troops? Because the Repubs frame the debate. They always set the political tone and the Dems are immediately on the defensive. Bush has 32% approval and the Dems still knuckle-under to him. Amazing. Disturbing. And the pointless death continues.

Posted by: ckelly on May 24, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Let's be clear - nobody got "thrown under the bus" because of Walter Reed that didn't deserve it.

And the real scandal is that it takes extraordinary times for it to even be on the radar. That sort of thing should be a scandal no matter when it happens.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Wow. What a bunch of crap. Legitimizing Republican frames AND continuing the same "liberal hawkism" we've come to expect from this rag. Wonder what the connection between TNR and WashMonthly is...

Posted by: luci on May 24, 2007 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Why don't the Augustuses of the world understand (or maybe, admit)that it takes 66 votes in the senate to override a veto??

And why does the onus fall on the Dems? Bush vetoed the fucking funding that Congress provided. The meme should be that Bush better sign a damn funding bill whether he likes it or not or the troops don't get the funds and it will be on HIM.

Posted by: ckelly on May 24, 2007 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Or what Bubba said at 9:38.

Posted by: ckelly on May 24, 2007 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Scorpio - that's tragic, but funny.

Have you ever read "A Century of Dishonor?
Written not long after the U.S. Civil War ...

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Northern Observer wrote:

"The real lesson to take away from these commentaries is that the Democratic Party Presidential candidate must explain why we must leave Iraq. They need to explain to the American people that we are losing by staying in Iraq. And repeat it over and over again and point to experts who agree with them."
_____________________

The trouble is that few military experts agree that it would be a good idea to simply leave Iraq. Most think that the fight is there and that it must be fought, regardless of how we got there. At most, a few will suggest cutting back on the fighting troops, while maintaining support for the Iraqi government.

The Democratic leadership is faced with a dilemma. A majority of the American people are dissatisfied with how the war is going, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone wants total disengagement. Whatever success current operations are having might set the stage for limiting our combat role in the future. But the Democratic leadership knows we'll be involved in Iraq for some time.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

> Most think that the fight is there and that it
> must be fought, regardless of how we got there.

Against whom? Specifically. What is the victory state? Specifically. What is the cost/benefit analysis? Specifically - and please include _all_ costs.

Once you are done with the basics: What is the role in all this of the desire of a small group of men to control oil? Specifically.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 24, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

GC - thanks for chiming in - I'm fairly uninformed.
So the bus speed bumps, were they also responsible for field care in Afghanistan and Iraq, or was that an inaccurate assertion from TH? Or are they at a level, where(to use a baseball metaphor), regardless of RBI, it's a one-strike-you're-out game?

I've gotten into arguments with some of my more conservative friends and relatives about that scandal and they just don't seem to get it.

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

trashy wrote: Trust you to see party in everything posted, greg.

Tell ya what, trashy...if you don't want to get called on dishonest water carrying for the Republicans, you could try not dishonestly carrying water for the Republicans. As it is, your complaint that you got called out for it is hardly impressive.

That you go on to write: But it takes callous political types to revel in such things.

...only proves my point. I prefer the government -- including the military -- to be accountable. You, by contrast, complain about it, and give those responsible for those conditions a pass. Boo hoo, they're responsible for more than one building, so their abject failure at this one building -- what we know about -- must be okay, and you'd much rather it be handled quietly, so as not to embarrass the Republican Administration. Gotcha.

(It goes without saying, of course, that your later disclaimers, after beign called out, are far from persuasive; again, if you had a reputation for commenting in good faith, it might be, but that you don't is your own failing, no one else's.)

So sorry your ox got gored, trashy, but no one forces you to defend the Bush Administration's incompetence. Whatever your motivation, you choose to do it, and the shame is all yours, my friend.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2007 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

"Armies do not equal freedom."
______________________

But the lack of a good one eventually means no freedom - unless you've got an ally with a good one.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

On, and trashy, you can take your projection of political partisanship and shove that.

In another post, trashy wrote: The trouble is that few military experts agree that it would be a good idea to simply leave Iraq. Most think that the fight is there and that it must be fought, regardless of how we got there. blah blah blah

One advantage the Republicans have is they can simply recycle talkng points from the Vietnam War with a simple search-and-replace. One disadvantage Republican loyalists like trashy have is their refusal to consider how that one worked out for the US or the guys whose names are on a wall in DC.

Shame on you, trashy.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Augustus wrote:"The approval rating for congress is on par with the president's; meanwhile, opposition to the war is in the 70% range. Caving in to Bush and retreating on a timetable defies all reason and comprehension."

Augustus, since you seem to place credence in opinion polling, here's some results from CNN poll May 8th:

"Do you favour or oppose the war in Iraq? Favour: 34% /Oppose: 65% /No opinion: 1%." So, you were basically right about opposition to the war, but the next results might surprise you:

"Some proposals would provide additional funds for troops in Iraq & set benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet to show that progress is being made, but would not set a date for troop withdarawl. Would you favour or oppose?
Favour: 61% /Oppose: 36%/No opinion 3%"

Now, this is pretty much exactly the compromise the Democrats just agreed to & it has support almost exactly equal (65% v 61%)to the opposition to the Iraq war. Interesting, no? Now, let's look at the response to a proposal much closer to yours:

"One proposal would not provide additional funds for US troops in Iraq & would require the US to withdraw all its' troops by March 2008. Would you favour or oppose? Favour 39%/ Oppose: 60%/ No opinion: 2%"

This position, which seems similar to yours, has opposition (60%) roughly equal to that for the war in Iraq (65%), & support for the Democrat compromise (61%). Rather than, as you claim, defying "all reason & comprehension", the Democrat's current strategy seems to have the support of a very similar majority to that opposing the war.

I'd also note that your apparent position requires the Democrats to use their slender (& dubious) majority & sole possible power to impose a timetable - by withholding funds. Because, while opposition to the war in Iraq is 65%, the fact remains, as rea quite rightly points out, the Democrats have nothing near a veto-defying 66 Senate votes. While I'd personally like to see the US (& Australian) troops out of Iraq yesterday, I understand that the Democrats lack the numbers to effect that, except by means as provably unpopular as the war itself. As such, I'd prefer that the Democrats avoid the kind of electoral suicide you advocate & proceed at a pragmatic pace & with the acheivable compromises the US public currently supports by a 2 to 1 majority.

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on May 24, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

gregory wrote:

"Tell ya what, trashy...if you don't want to get called on dishonest water carrying for the Republicans...."
____________________

And yada, yada. Again, no substance, no facts, no expertise. Simply attack and spew nastiness. How terrible it must be for you to be so defined by your hatreds.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the military doesn't even vote so this entire argument is mute. Why don't we talk about why the Retardicans get the KKK vote?

Posted by: elmo on May 24, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Without the funds, the troops will need to be brought home. They would be brought home safely regardless.

I don't think that would happen at all--I think we'd end up with a constitutional crisis, with Bush claiming inherant constitutional authority to take the money from the general budget to fund the troops. We shouldn't go there, unless we're reasonably confident that we have the votes to impeach & remove Bush and Cheney.

Posted by: rea on May 24, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

All personnel attached to the Army Medical Corps fall under the command of the Surgeon General of the Army - from the top trauma surgeon in the field to the lowliest phlebotomist in a stateside Army clinic.

The current acting Surgeon General is MG Gale Pollock - a nurse and a female rather than a male doctor, this time. (Might actually get something done!)

The problems are not just Walter Reed - but because that got play in the Post, everyone know it. The problems are systemic and widespread, and they happened because of neglect to duty.

The Dana Priest series in the Post wasn't even the first. Here is a link to a New England Journal of Medicine article from 2004 that pointed to shortcomings in the care being provided.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

(I will follow up in a bit - pressed for time right now. Sorry about the choppy, unproofed presentation of my last post.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, who has charts and graphs to back herself up, as the old saying goes, says the military vote is now split about equally between Dems and Repubs...despite having been majority Republican in the past.

Our fervent GOP supporters keep repeating that military people don't vote for Democrats.

What could be responsible for these conflicting statements?

Posted by: shortstop on May 24, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I see a lot of rote recitations of formulaic praise for the military and the people in it in broad terms from the right, and if that is what SSGT Douglas considers genuine respect, then I can see his point.

Have I seen liberals like the ones he talks about? Sure, a few. But the one thing that the kind of attitude he discusses always seems to accompany is a kind of cultish isolation: they are loathe to associate with anyone who doesn't share their extreme views and closemindedness (and, conversely, people who don't share their extreme and closeminded views tend not to want to associate with them for long.)

so, I find it odd, as well as suspiciously convenient, that a conservative "Yellow Dog Democrat" would have these kind of views be dominant among his "liberal" associates. I, too, hang around "opinionated" people; my longest-term friends happen to be opinionated independents and Republicans, when I was college I had friends that were honest-to-Karl Marxists and friends that were in the campus leadership of Young Americans for Freedom. And yet the number of people I've personally, directly encountered that have the kind of attitude that Douglas describs I could count on my fingers, and probably have several to spare.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Big Cat is right on no monoliths.

Even more, Spencer Ackerman's article is more important than any of the soldiers' stories in the package.

Too many soldiers have, to put it bluntly, some degree of ADDICTION to fighting after multiple tours in Iraq. And yes, I do believe it's a psychological addiction.

Plus, as Ackerman also notes, and as I agree, the "boots on the ground" have a narrow, sector-localized understanding of what is "successful." Throw in the bar of "success" continually being lowered, and to take the addiction metaphor further, Democrats risk becoming "enablers."

The idea of "support the troops" in any way short of supporting getting them home ASAP, because "the troops" still want to fight, is a losing proposition.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on May 24, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The real schism in the military, at least in the lower enlisted ranks, is not between Democrat or Republican...It's between X-Box vs Play Station. (hat tip Pale Rider, where ever you are. Sigh. I miss him.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

If the Dems would address the needs of their natural constituency, the military vote will make no difference. Besides, the Repubs "cage" the ballots from the military enlisted, and negate their votes anyway.

Posted by: Mooser on May 24, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I would prefer Democratic candidates concentrate on winning my vote, and the votes of other anti-war citizens, rather than on winning the votes of those who have obeyed the monster President W. Bush and shamed our nation.

Posted by: Brojo on May 24, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

They're the self-justifying rantings of a bunch of dead enders. If they still can't figure out who is f&cking their lives for a doomed and morally indefensible effort, I sure hope the Democrats aren't going to make an outreach effort.

Posted by: astrid on May 24, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

"...the number of people I've personally, directly encountered that have the kind of attitude that Douglas describs I could count on my fingers, and probably have several to spare."
_______________________

The folks you know might not be so rabid, cm, but an overall attitude of disinterest isn't hard to find. The difference needn't even be political - I have a writing partner who is a genuine Trotskyite and an ex-labor organizer. Yet, I've heard him express more knowledge and support for our military (outside this war) than I've heard from most Democratic politicians.

As I think I've said before, the difference is attitudinal. Let's say you are an elected Democratic member of Congress with good people on your staff. Ask yourself if:

You've ever attended an annual convention of one of the Service Associations. Are you a member of that Association?

When was the last time you spoke before a military crowd? When was the last time you visited a base or unit? Who was the last Medal of Honor winner for that particular Service? What is the mission of that unit and what was their last success? What is the history of that unit?

Are you associated with military charities? Have you ever worked for something military related beside the VA? Is there anything about the bases in your district that is important besides how they affect the local economy?

Who is your favorite military hero and why? Who is Tooey Spaatz (or whoever) and which Service claims his legacy? What's the difference between a tank and an armored fighting vehicle? Or a fighter and an attack aircraft? A frigate and a destroyer?

It's not just knowledge - Republicans can be just as ignorant. Perhaps they simply feign interest better. But at least most of them try to appeal to military pride and purpose, rather than simply the-military-as-victims.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, the few who espouse your extreme point of view are vinegar in the milk for the Democratic party, and some of us military-types who also espouse liberal and progressive values really wish you lot would just hush up for one election cycle because you undermine our efforts.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

GC,

Why? There's a time for compromising and building coalitions, but that time has long passed. If the Democratic party is willing to debase its soul for ephemeral tactical advantages, then it truly deserves to be called GOP-Lite.

Posted by: astrid on May 24, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK
Brojo, the few who espouse your extreme point of view are vinegar in the milk for the Democratic party, and some of us military-types who also espouse liberal and progressive values really wish you lot would just hush up for one election cycle because you undermine our efforts.

That opinion, it should be underlined, is not limited to only the military types who espouse liberal and progressive values.

There are certainly people in the military who bear some special responsibility as active collaborators in the wrongdoing by this administration. The military is not full of angels, to be sure.

But for the most part, the responsibility of members of the military—including those who have served in Iraq—is no different from the responsibility born by every citizen for the action of the government.

The men and women certainly deserve no less consideration, categorically, than other citizens.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

so, I find it odd, as well as suspiciously convenient, that a conservative "Yellow Dog Democrat" would have these kind of views be dominant among his "liberal" associates.

I noticed this as well. I wonder why this fellow keeps hanging out with so many uncongenial people to the exclusion of having other friends who share his perspective?

Posted by: shortstop on May 24, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

> Are you associated with military charities? Have
> you ever worked for something military related
> beside the VA? Is there anything about the bases
> in your district that is important besides how
> they affect the local economy?
>
> Who is your favorite military hero and why? Who is
> Tooey Spaatz (or whoever) and which Service
> claims his legacy?

Do we live in the United States of America or Sparta?

> What's the difference between a
> tank and an armored fighting vehicle? Or a
> fighter and an attack aircraft? A frigate and
> a destroyer?

I guarantee Newt Gingrich knows the answer to those questions. You know - the guy who deferred out of the Vietnam draft then styled himself as an expert on "military affairs"? If you seriously think that these are things the average American citizen should be studying/memorizing you might want to contact Mr. Putin about a job in a country run more along the lines you prefer.

How about some answers to the questions about who exactly we are fighting in Iraq BTW?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on May 24, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

How about some answers to the questions about who exactly we are fighting in Iraq BTW?

Don't hold your breath. trashhauler's view of this war reminds me of a Confederate reenactor I know who doesn't approve of slavery or secession but doesn't want to "dwell on the negative." It's all about the gadgets, battle maps and pretty uniforms for this kind of guy.

Posted by: shortstop on May 24, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

"How would he react, if in a public place, someone within several feet of him, and behind, shouted "Ten-hut!!!" at the top of their lungs? I'd be really fucking surprised if he didn't start to snap to attention - he might not finish coming to attention, but his reflexes would start propelling him fully upright."

First off he is/was a SSG not a SSgt. Secondly he was in SF. As a 20 year veteran of SF I can tell you unequivocally that NO SF soldier would ever snap to attention as you describe. A more likely scenario, especially for a SSG in SF, would be to hear from the back of the room, "hey soldier get your hands out of your pockets, where's your headgear, why is your hair so long and your mustache out of regs?" To which the SSG would duly reply, "dude, take it easy, what's your fucking problem?"

Posted by: 1SG on May 24, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Democratic Party should not get into the business of catering to the willfully blind. If Dems can communicate our beliefs to make them see, great, but otherwise, the "yes, the GOP is a bunch of painkiller chugging, sick wife divorcing, page molesting corporate-criminals...but the terror of a Democrat in office!" crowd us a lost cause and will be until they grow a brain or drops dead.

Posted by: astrid on May 24, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

see, at least when I read conservative blogs and comment threads I don't see the occasional nutjob lambasting servicemen. unfortunately, astrid and brojo may not represent the majority of liberals, but the fact that they exist at all doesn't help.

as for cmdicely, I don't know where he lives, but if he lived in SF or Park Slope he'd know plenty of people like that.

Posted by: E1 on May 24, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

1SG - thanks. Would you say that is prevalent across the Army?
As I mentioned earlier, I am fairly uninformed, about a lot of things.

If you want to know about things like how people are treated by police, in the dead of night, during a protest about DOD and state universities that refuse to uphold state laws, let me know.
Interestingly, some of my co-protestors were(or claimed to be) veterans of Space Command, US Army(Rangers) and the Israeli Army.

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is that the term conservative has been drug through the mud by a bunch of jerks. The social programs of the last century created this kneejerk assumption that government is inherently liberal! What kind of complete moron would come up with that! The essence of conservatism is a sound civil philosophy. So what we have had is a bunch of social and economic consevatives, ie. thieves and preachers, running government into the ground. It started with Reagan saying government is the problem and needed to be got rid of, not that government had become fat and flabby and needed to be fixed. The difference between real conservatism and these jerks is the difference between the backbone and the asshole.

Posted by: brodix on May 24, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't think that would happen at all--I think we'd end up with a constitutional crisis, with Bush claiming inherant constitutional authority to take the money from the general budget to fund the troops. We shouldn't go there, unless we're reasonably confident that we have the votes to impeach & remove Bush and Cheney."

Well, then I guess with that kind of thinking even if the Dems had a veto proof majority they shouldn't "go there" either because Bush can then claim inherent constitutional authority and just ignore the veto. The Dems fail to see that a large and bipartisan majority of the public supports them. They do not want them to roll over. Let Bush turn this into a constitutional crisis. The public will recognize, at this point, who is responsible. The Dems (and this country's citizens) need the public to see how low Bush is willing to push this Country, its people and its resources. The Dems chose political expediency over the wisheds of the American people.

The Dems needed to take a stand (especially after all of their 'tough guy' talk on the subject). They failed to do so, mostly because they are afraid to take some criticism from a woefully unpopular president and similarly unpopular GOP, and more importantly failed to do what was right.

Posted by: bubba on May 24, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

you undermine our efforts.

Undermine your efforts to do what?

For me, the answer is to elect more pro-military Democrats to keep the military the largest in the world and ready for the next Republican president to wage agressive wars with. Like Clinton did for W. Bush. It also means transferring wealth from working people to defense contractors. We do not really need a government dominated by Murtha's and Cunningham's, which, to me, is the outcome that supporting a policy of having an overwhelming military power results in.

There is a lot of acetic acid in the land once so full of milk and honey. I do not think it was polluted by those who want to wage peace, stop the US from committing crimes, and treat the other nations of the world as equals.

Posted by: Brojo on May 24, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

trashy wrote: And yada, yada. Again, no substance, no facts, no expertise. Simply attack and spew nastiness.

No substance, indeed...no substantial rebuttal, for example, of the way I dentified you as giving those responsible for Walter Reed a free pass because they embarrassed the Administration you carry water for. No, no facts or expertise from trashy; just ad hominems. Well, you have to work with the lame position you have, not the one you wish you had, I guess...

But that's just it, isn't it, trashy? You cant' deny your role as an apologist for this administration. And there's no reason at all to take someone seriously whose demonstrated expertise is carrying water for the GOP. And you're hardly the first one -- from tbrosz and Marler to you and "ex-liberal," you lickspittles defend this Administration dishonestly -- since you can't do so honestly, after all -- and then complain when you aren't taken seriously.

Sorry, bub; that dog won't huint.

You seem to have a problem with being identified as such -- I note, however, that you hardly deny it, as if you could. So again, trashy, if you don't want to be attacked as a dishoenst water carrier for the Administration -- the substance of which identification has been identifed time and again in these threads -- you could not be a dishonest water carrier for this Administration.

Oops, too late.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

One reason the Democrats can't discount the importance of the military vote is the the areas where the military is a vital contributor to the economy.

The locals who benefit from a base are not inclined to vote against that interest.

There is a hell of a lot more to think about than a lot of people seem to realize, or even appear willing to consider as possibility.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

cranky

a little bit of technical competency would go a long ways. it doesn't help when you read posters on dailykos heroizing Shinseki and then blasting the current administration for the thin armor of the Stryker. the jury's out on the Stryker but it was Shinseki that pushed it through. it's his baby.

or writing major diaries on why won't the Pentagon certify Dragon Skin. hint: it's 20 pounds heavier than the current Intercepter combination of Level 3A E-OTV and Level 4 ballistic plates.

its easy to bash the Bush twins but the fact remains that the few national politicians with kids in Iraq have been Republicans (including two current Presidential candidates -- McCain hasn't done his tour there yet but he will -- with one notable exception).

Posted by: E1 on May 24, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and rea, take a look at Kevin Drums most recent post, at 1:35 of the political animal website. With numbers like that, there is absolutely no reason for the Dems to fear Bush or anything he might do. The Dems need to focus on standing up for themselves and the views of the American public.

Posted by: bubba on May 24, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK
Undermine your efforts to do what?

Elect Democrats, end the war, establish universal healthcare, end the preference for capital over labor, etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

E1 - I believe James Webb, US Senator from VA, is a Democrat.

Posted by: kenga on May 24, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Mr. Dicely. I will cease banging my head on my desk now.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

kenga

Webb is the "one notable exception." i inadvertently placed that comment within the parentheses.

Posted by: E1 on May 24, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that the Dems and Repubs are now into the strategy of trying to divide their opposition. The Repubs want the staunchly anti-war left to split with the center, and the Dems want the anarcho-capitalists to split with the fundies. Unfortunately the Bushies can control the agenda with the war and split the Dems as long as they can keep stalling with possible UN involvement or starting another mess with Iran. Until the table can get spun around to domestic issues like Healthcare and impacts of global trade, the Dems won't be able to control the agenda and split the Repubs. A recession could do that.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

E1: a little bit of technical competency would go a long ways. it doesn't help...

It doesn't help when you change your handle, Nathan. We still know it's you, love bug.

Posted by: shortstop on May 24, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer wrote:

"Do we live in the United States of America or Sparta?"
___________________

Obviously, the United States of America. But the topic (I thought) was about the "military vote" and why Democratic politicians seem to have a tough time with the military. Far from being Sparta, we rely upon civilian control of the military in this country. That presumes the folks in elected office actually care enough to know enough about the military. My list wasn't a challenge - it was a an honest attempt at explaining why Democratic politicians aren't more popular amongst those who like and support the military.

Pointing out that your enemies (Gingrich) will know something about the military, so why should you, simply concedes the ground to them. I didn't know you wanted to do that.
__________________

Cranky also asked: "How about some answers to the questions about who exactly we are fighting in Iraq BTW?"
__________________

Who we are fighting in Iraq? Any group who illegally and violently opposes the legimimately constituted government. Makes for a tough targeting solution.


Posted by: trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Good catch, Shortstop! I thought there was a familiar whiff coming off those posts!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote:

"trashhauler's view of this war reminds me of a Confederate reenactor I know who doesn't approve of slavery or secession but doesn't want to "dwell on the negative." It's all about the gadgets, battle maps and pretty uniforms for this kind of guy."
__________________

So, shortstop, I gather you see us as the evil Confederacy? Interesting take on it. I gather you don't know I still work for DOD, instead of just play at it.

Anything I wrote about enemy orbat would have to be so general as to allow you to have a field day picking holes in it. All of which will allow you to not think about why so much of the military vote is lost to you and why most people think you dislike the military.

Posted by: trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I gather you see us as the evil Confederacy?

I didn't read it in that broad-brush way. I read it more as comparing one man to another, not two institutions.

I could be wrong tho.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 24, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

We heard you the first time, trash.

So, shortstop, I gather you see us as the evil Confederacy?

Assuming you weren't being willfully obtuse (a leap of logic about as large as the one you made in the above sentence), I'd say it's hard to believe you could miss the point more than you already have. No, son, I don't see any "we" as anything. I see you, just you, as a poser dreaming of glory. You packers and crackers (isn't that what your own colleagues call you?)...whattawegonnadowithyou?

All of which will allow you to not think about why so much of the military vote is lost to you...

We've been over this. About 50 percent, isn't it? What a glass-half-empty kind of boy you are!

Posted by: shortstop on May 24, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the best way for the Dems to get military votes is to whole-heartedly support the war in Iraq; the war has strong support among the military. Here's some evidence

Marines volunteer to return to Iraq

In one battalion, 200 members opt to extend their enlistments, for no bonus money. 'I'm here to teach the younger guys,' says one.

RAMADI, IRAQ — Marine Cpl. Saul Mellado could be back in California, finishing the final months of his enlistment in a safe billet at Camp Pendleton.

Instead, the 23-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico is patrolling these war-torn streets only recently wrested from insurgent control — and bracing for an expected counteroffensive.

Mellado, a machine-gunner, knows these streets: the adults who eye the Marines with suspicion and the children who beg for candy and water. He was first dispatched to Ramadi in late 2004, a deployment during which 15 Marines in his unit — the 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment — died and more than 200 were wounded.

Under Marine Corps rules about "short-timers," Mellado could have skipped this return to Ramadi six weeks ago. But like 200 other members of the battalion — a quarter of its number — he asked to have his enlistment extended. Unlike a reenlistment, the move earns the Marines no bonus money, no promotion and no promise of a job shift or posting to a favored duty station.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fg-extend22may22,0,3337692.story?coll=la-home-center

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 24, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Well that does it! ex-liberal has convinced me that I was wrong all along! He found a marine with a short worldview who thinks it's a swell notion to keep it up, and I am swayed.

What a disingenuous hack! Trying to derail the thread with tit-for-tat posts?

Have you actually talked to anyone who went over there? Didn't think so, so knock it off. Tool.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on May 24, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

There is usually a backstory on those tales, like "I don't have a wife and kids. I'll go in my buddy's place."

Posted by: O-4 (ret) on May 24, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote:

No, son, I don't see any "we" as anything. I see you, just you, as a poser dreaming of glory. You packers and crackers (isn't that what your own colleagues call you?)...whattawegonnadowithyou?

All of which will allow you to not think about why so much of the military vote is lost to you...

We've been over this. About 50 percent, isn't it? What a glass-half-empty kind of boy you are!
______________________

Well, Geez, shortstop, I didn't poke you when you asked who we were fighting. My first thought was to ask what you meant by "we," since it obviously doesn't include you. As for posing, I have never posed as anything more than I am, so what's your point? That logistics isn't a part of war? That even if a trashhauler goes to War College, ain't know way he learned anything? That a couple of decades of working in the joint community teaches one little of the other Services? Want to guess how many loggies are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Shit, shortstop, go kid somebody else. The next time I see you on a military base will be the first time.

And, if you've decided that 50% of the vote is good enough, that Demomcrats exhibiting an anti-military attitude is unimportant, then you are free to take your own advice and ignore what I wrote.

But then you can also spare us the crocodile tears about the awful human cost of the war and the wear and tear on our military, since it's obvious that your phoney concern is all partisan posturing. You don't care how many people get killed, so long as you can accuse somebody else of being callous.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse the typo: Demomcrats was supposed to be Democrats.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't the Augustuses of the world understand (or maybe, admit)that it takes 66 votes in the senate to override a veto??

Surely this is rhetorical - everyone knows this. The question is whether or not the Democrats should cave to the president's veto - my opinion is that they should not.

Keep sending the president the same bill, month after month, and let him keep vetoing it. Make it crystal clear to the electorate that there is one person and one person only who stands in the way of the troops coming home. Similarly, Bush will be the one standing in the way of the troops receiving funding.

Bush wants no timetable. The Democrats (allegedly) want to bring the troops home sooner rather than later. Deny the president his blank check and he may be forced to compromise on a longer, more tolerable timetable.

In any event, it's important that the Democrats not only provide an alternative to Republican rule, but also demonstrate leadership. They appear to be doing neither.

Democrats don't need to be right all the time (or even most of the time, as it appears in the case of the Bush administration) for people to trust and follow them. They do, however, need to demonstrate leadership, an alternative vision, and a willingness to fight for their principles.

Here the Democrats are displaying a lack of consistency not merely on a high profile issue, but the primary issue that put them into their slim majorities in both houses. If they aren't willing to put up a more conspicuous fight over the war, it's going to be much, much harder to market themselves in the next election. You can't expect people to trust you when you so quickly abandon the defining issue of the last race.

DanJoaquinOz: here's some results from CNN poll May 8th...

And this NY Times article from today says that "Sixty-three percent say the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq sometime in 2008." http://tinyurl.com/2cm2q2

But the polls should matter less than the political reality of the situation. To reiterate what I said above, the Democrats need to demonstration leadership; they need to provide an alternative vision to the president's. Most importantly, they need to honor the trust voters placed in them to bring this war to an end. They shouldn't be afraid to stick to their guns, even if that means they're ahead of the curve in terms of national consensus. It's a safe bet that support for withdrawal will only increase over time. Republicans are already starting to peel off in that direction. Yes, I think it does defy all logic and comprehension given the context of the election and the will of the electorate today that the Democrats now appear to be back-pedaling.

Posted by: Augustus on May 24, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

From Phillip Carter's piece:

"The sentiments of the military are viewed by the public as an important barometer of a president’s fitness to lead. Under Clinton, hostile relations with the military limited the White House’s policy options on issues ranging from gays in the military to intervention in the Balkans. Under Bush, support from the military has led to the opposite extreme, enabling the president to use force recklessly with the imprimatur of military approval. Neither model of civil-military relations is good for the country."

The lesson I take away from this paragraph isn't so much the importance of a Dem candidate selling the military on him/herself, but rather that the military is a bad judge of candidates - as an institution, it's been blinded by its biases. It clearly doesn't know jack shit anymore about whether a candidate or party would be good for the military, let alone the country.

The military should be forthright in giving counsel to our leaders about which military options are feasible, and what the risks and potential costs are. But given its recent track record, it shouldn't presume to give counsel to the rest of us on candidates or parties.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on May 24, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

low tech wrote:

"...the military is a bad judge of candidates - as an institution, it's been blinded by its biases."
_____________________

Probably very true, low. The military is no less vulnerable to institutional blindspots as any other. Nevertheless, any President's job is easier if he or she can get along with the military and election is easier in the first place if the candidate at least makes the proper noises. Democrats have often eschewed making this important national group comfortable, thus have always had an uphill battle in any area requiring hard power.

One can easily tell the military to shut up and color and they'll salute and do it. But don't look for any real institutional enthusiasm while they do it.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

low tech wrote:

"...the military is a bad judge of candidates - as an institution, it's been blinded by its biases."
_____________________

Probably very true, low. The military is no less vulnerable to institutional blindspots as any other. Nevertheless, any President's job is easier if he or she can get along with the military and election is easier in the first place if the candidate at least makes the proper noises. Democrats have often eschewed making this important national group comfortable, thus have always had an uphill battle in any area requiring hard power.

One can easily tell the military to shut up and color and they'll salute and do it. But don't look for any real institutional enthusiasm while they do it.

Posted by: Trashhauler on May 24, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Isle of Lucy wrote: Well that does it! ex-liberal has convinced me that I was wrong all along! He found a marine with a short worldview who thinks it's a swell notion to keep it up, and I am swayed....What a disingenuous hack!

Actual, Isle of Lucy, I found 200 marines on the other side. Note that your side was supported by only a single military person. Also, my 200 didn't just talk. They voluntarily chose to return to the battle in Iraq.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 24, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

current liar:

The Appeal for Redress has been signed by over 1950 active duty personnel.

http://www.appealforredress.org/

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on May 24, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dont want to be left out in the kill zone??? Where does the writer think he is now?

Posted by: Dano on May 24, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK
Thank you Mr. Dicely. I will cease banging my head on my desk now.

Glad to be of service.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK
Democrats have often eschewed making this important national group comfortable, thus have always had an uphill battle in any area requiring hard power.

Really? You want to line up the successful applications of hard power under Republican Administration up against those under Democratic Administrations since WWII? Or, for that matter, since the end of the Civil War?

Posted by: cmdicely on May 24, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it strikes me that the Democrats don't need to get the vote of any of these 7 men. They need to get the votes of 51% of the American people. More to the point, 51% of the vote in enough states to win the electoral college, 51% of the vote in 50-some-odd states with senate races, and 51% of the vote in 270 congressional districts. That's what we need to focus on, not pandering to a myth of an electorate represented by 7 guest-writers. Enough of the military votes for Democrats already for my comfort. Whether it's a majority or not doesn't matter. That's not the margin that's going to put them over the edge on election day.

Posted by: Tyro on May 24, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Here is my strategy for the Democrats.
Allow the Republicans to continue to have their way in regards to the war and veterans benefits.

As the war drags on and on, those dupes (armed forces that vote Republican) will either wake up to the truth of their betrayal by the Bush admin. or they will meet their end in the Iraqi meatgrinder. Same result-less Republican votes.

How could anyone vote-for/follow leaders whose military strategy basically is "Drive up and down this street till you get shot."???

Posted by: William on May 24, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: Here's some evidence

Oh, boy....anecdotal evidence from "ex-liberal". Now that's convincing. Oh, wait...no, it isn't; it doesn't even proved "ex-liberal"'s contention that "the best way for the Dems to get military votes is to whole-heartedly support the war in Iraq" or "the war has strong support among the military."

Trashy, thanks for continuing to prove my characterizations of you correct.

As for Nathan, thanks for admitting your reputation for dishonest partisan hackery is well-deserved.

Posted by: Gregory on May 24, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

"You want to line up the successful applications of hard power under Republican Administration up against those under Democratic Administrations since WWII? Or, for that matter, since the end of the Civil War?"
_________________

On second thought, nope. What I said isn't historically true. Most past Democratic Presidents never had to consider the question, "How do I get the military on my side?" Most Democratic politicians took their connections with the military quite seriously until not very long ago. Which I guess was the whole point of the thread.

Posted by: trashhauler on May 25, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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