Commentary: Chicken Soup for the Chicken Hawk's Soul
By Tom Dodge, KERA 90.1 Commentator
Dallas, TX –
Most of the disabled Iraq War veterans running for office in 2006 are Democrats. This presents a major problem for their opponents, who are already testing various strategies to overcome their reputation as "chicken hawks." A chicken hawk is said to be an able-bodied person who avoids serving in wars but supports them as long as others, or others' children, do the fighting. Their new sound bite will be, "We have moral authority too."
Polls show that most voters now believe the reasons the government gave for attacking Iraq were bogus. Some even fear is that the real reason involved corporate profits. So we can expect another group, Swift Eagles for America, to spring into action and discredit these wounded veterans opposing the war.
Stalking horse Ann Coulter has already begun the campaign by hacking away at Max Cleland. She says he deserves no special moral authority just because he got a few scratches in Vietnam. Okay, an arm and two legs went missing somehow. In any case, why is he sacrosanct? Bunker patriots don't need combat ribbons to prove their courage, Swift Eagles for America will say. Just consider the courage it must take to withstand the criticism you get for leading the charge from the bunkers.
Furthermore, Swift Eagles will say, Max Cleland wasn't even in a battle when the grenade he reached to pick up at Khe Sanh exploded. He was on his way TO a battle. There's a big difference. Technically, he was hardly more than a civilian at the time. How do we know he didn't plan this little episode in order to get this so-called moral authority? And how convenient that he still has one arm left. That's a little suspicious too. A real war hero would not have come home until all of his limbs were gone.
So Swift Eagles stands ready, on two good legs, to take on these so-called heroes rolling into the fray in their wheelchairs. They'll take them on any time, any place. Bring 'em on. It's time they found out what real combat is like.
Just because bunker patriots don't actually sign up doesn't mean they aren't brave, Swift Eagles will say. Bunker patriots don't cut and run, and it's not just because they don't have anything to cut with or to run from. Don't underestimate the peril they face in their Washington offices. Not too long ago, for example, there were construction noises on Capitol Hill that could have easily been gunfire. What did our intrepid leaders do? They stood up to it, stood bravely against the jackhammers. Only a few cut and ran, even though only 24 of the 625 members of Congress have the slightest idea what real warfare sounds like. Because the unknown is always more frightening than the known, Swift Eagles will say, this is REAL courage.
So if you want to know what real courage is, try walking a mile in a bunker patriot's Guccis. Who would like being called an absurd oxymoron like "chicken hawk," ridiculing your temerity and audacity at the same time? Yet they take it in stride on their two good legs. You say it's easy to walk a mile in Guccis but consider the courage it takes for a leader to support a war when he himself got five deferments during Vietnam while supporting the war for others.
So Swift Eagles for America will say that bunker patriots deserve moral authority, too, as it takes courage to persuade others to do your fighting for you. Because you know that, in the end, your conscience will find you.
Tom Dodge is a writer from Midlothian.
If you have opinions or rebuttals about this commentary, call (214) 740-9338 or email us.
More government issues and election coverage from KERA's Voter's Voice