Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Real Heroes are the Ones Who Don't Run for Public Office

War heroes, generals come to elections with an advantage, the aura of greatness, of accomplishment and heroism. In practice though the results are at best mixed. America began with one general as President, a reluctant George Washington, and then didn't have another General as President for quite a while. Those few Presidents after Washington who were Generals, were generally mediocrities or outright disasters, Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower.

Today in a time of crisis America faces ever more politicians eager to trade on their military credentials. Former disgraced General Wesley Clark is constantly in the wings. John Kerry attempted to trade on his dubious military record, running as a war hero, after he had made his career blasting his fellow soldiers as war criminals. John McCain has practically hung up a 'War Hero for Sale' sign presenting his past as a key credential for the Presidency. Before them Bob Dole ran for office on little more than lethargy and a war injury, not inflicted by the enemy. Triple amputee congressman Max Cleland shamelessly allowed his injuries inflicted by his own carelessness with a grenade on base, to be represented as a combat injury too.

In Israel the situation is a good deal worse and the generalship is simply the first step to a political career. Israel's two most disastrous Prime Ministers were former generals Rabin and Sharon, one of whom signed a deal with the terrorists and the second ethnically cleansed Gaza of Jews opening the way for Hamas.

It should be apparent that the willingness to trade on a military reputation is itself a warning sign of careerism, of men who began working to promote themselves politically even while still in the military, as was the case with Kerry and Sharon. That kind of cynical self-promotion often creates a dangerous precedent. The reality is that real heroes are reluctant to trade on their wartime experiences for political gain, it's cynical figures who are all too willing to position themselves as political heroes. And cynicism goes hand in hand with corruption. It's no real surprise then that of the two Senators who survived the Keating Five purge, John McCain and John Glenn, both were men who had become larger than life legends.

This too forms a pattern. President Grant's administration was one of the more corrupt of the period. Rabin and Sharon's histories in public office were ripe with corruption and Sharon's son Omri is now headed for jail. Jackson's spoils system combined with his assault on the banks in favor of his cronies nearly destroyed America's economy for a generation. In such men the bold ruthlessness that brings them to victory in war was married with a boundless egotism, excepting perhaps Grant. This type of personality is perfectly on display in John McCain, the quickness to anger, the determination to have his way, the willingness to sell out to the highest bidder while maintaining a self-righteous facade.

After a war heroes go home, they raise families, they work 9 to 5 and they try to forget the past. The public needs heroes though and must have them, yet the ones who step forward are themselves often a self-selecting group, men willing to create their own image on the public stage and then stand in awe of it. The public wants Cincinnatus but instead repeatedly finds itself stuck with Caesar.


najistani said...

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights


A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.


How you can save Pervez

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh's imminent execution is an affront to civilised values. It is not, however, a foregone conclusion. If enough international pressure is brought to bear on President Karzai's government, his sentence may yet be overturned. Add your weight to the campaign by urging the Foreign Office to demand that his life be spared. Sign our e-petition at

Keli Ata said...

People such as Rabin, Sharon and Kerry know that their military backgrounds are a marketable commodity, and they use their stripes to sell themselves to the public. A public that is for the most part ignorant or dissmissive of whether ther person in question was a good soldier or not.

I have mixed feelings on McCain. I know he served in the military but he has come out really strong against waterboarding, basing his decision on his own torture as a POW.

That could make him too reticent to use force when force is needed as president. His experience could very well make him a liability rather than an asset.

Eric-Odessit said...

A note to those who are concerned about the prosecution of the current war against the Islamo-fascists.
The guy who would be the best - Rudy - is now dropped out of the race. My personal 2nd choice is Romney, but not only he might not get the nomination, he might also be unelectable if he does get it. So, McCain might be it. If so, try not to make him damaged goods by the time the general election comes along. Otherwise we might get President Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama. With all the McCain's faults, I think he is infinently better than either Hillary or Obama.

LemonLimeMoon said...

McCain is already damaged goods.
Any port is a storm is not the way to get things better. Petting the republican party by accepting the crap they offer is not the answer.

Sultan Knish said...

well just about anyone is better than hillary or obama, but I doubt that McCain would even survive an election against them without self-destructing... and remember these candidates are masters of destroying the other guy so they don't have to run in an honest election

i don't think mccain has a ton of WOT credibility either, this is the guy behind the al queda bill of rights and who was happy to kiss up to vietnam as soon as big business decided they wanted a piece of the action

LemonLimeMoon said...

The thinking that anything is better is why after all this time there is no option in the field of candidates. They all are bad. And as long as people continue to accept whatever comes along even if it is not that much better, you will continue to get garbage.

LemonLimeMoon said...

Let me mouth off again.
Huckabee is in this to skew votes over to McCain. McCain is not conservative. Romney is to a greater degree than any of them.
But those who support McCain , a man who cannot be president will guarantee a democrat in the white house and if they do manage to elect McCain, they will change the face of conservatism forever in this nation.

I am sick of the low values that motivate people in this nation anymore.

Eric-Odessit said...

So, Lemonlimemoon, what do you suggest? Voting for a Democratic nominee or sitting out the election and letting the Democrats win?
My guy was Rudy, but he screwed up his campaign and bailed. My second choice is Romney, but what if he does not get the nomination? I don't want Hillary or Obama to get to the White House, so I will vote for McCain in the general election.

Keli Ata said...

Eric, I was the one who suggested abstaining this time around, not Lemon.

If I do vote, it will most likely be for Romney.

With everything coming out now about Obama's ties to the Nation of Islam and his half-hearted and pathetic attempts to distance himself from the NOI anti-Semitism I can't in good conscience abstain and let someone like Obama waltz into the White House.

I was supporting Rudy but with him out of the picture and McCain the less than ideal choice I'm leaning heavily towards Romney now.

Though I agree with Lemon. None of the current crop of candidates are any good.

Keli Ata said...

Najistani--Please contact the Committee to Protect Journalists as soon as possible to help this reporter!

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