Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times reported on the Democrats’ campaign to end their party’s decades-long anti-military image. How they’re going about it, however, is revealing of the differences between the parties:
Even as they press for withdrawal from Iraq, congressional Democrats have proposed more money for armored vehicles, shorter tours of duty for Reserve soldiers and expanded programs to care for veterans.
The reception has been positive, from even the most fervently antiwar audiences. Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) drew a cheering, whistling, foot-stomping reception at the state party convention in San Diego when she combined an assault on the Bush administration with heaping praise for U.S. troops.
Pelosi said that instead of being honored upon their return, “veterans are being forced to cope with a system that is not equipped to care for them. “Democrats will take proper care of our heroes and leave no veteran behind.”
Perfect! Veterans join at-risk children as a victim group. This theme is consistent among Democratic leaders:
Falling in behind the troops, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has offered several proposals, including improvements in healthcare and disability assistance, to address the needs of soldiers and their families. She promises she will soon unveil a “GI Bill of Rights” to expand business, education and homeownership opportunities.
Sen. Barack Obama devotes a section of his presidential campaign website to veterans’ issues, including brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. ***
On Saturday, presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards unveiled a website, SupportTheTroopsEnd TheWar.com, suggesting ways of “reclaiming patriotism” and observing Memorial Day, such as organizing a prayer vigil for U.S. soldiers, sending troops a care package or attending a demonstration to urge their withdrawal from Iraq.
When conservatives talk about supporting the troops, they mean doing everything possible to help them win the war they’re fighting. Liberals never seem to talk about victory, but rather see “support” as turning soldiers and veterans into another victim group, dependent on government health and welfare services.
Will it work? So far, at least, I think a large majority of our service personnel think of themselves as warriors rather than participants in a social welfare program. But there is a certain logic to the Democrats’ approach: if one’s only concern is the safety of the troops, the simple solution is never to fight. And if, like most liberals, you have no intention of ever fighting, then you might as well take credit for keeping the troops safe. But that isn’t what most Americans, or most soldiers, have in mind when they think of an effective military.