On returning to her Washington, D.C. broadcasting studio after a week-long visit with U.S. troops in Iraq, Laura Ingraham ended one of her talk radio monologues with words to the effect that she’d learned more about what the U.S. military is doing in the first two days of her visit than she had in months’ worth of reading beforehand.
That honesty, and a pair of stories in the news since, got me thinking again about the franchise discussion in Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel, Starship Troopers.
Science fiction buffs may recall that Heinlein’s coming-of-age-in-the-galactic-infantry yarn imagined a milieu in which voting rights were not afforded to any citizen until completion of a two-year term of “federal service.” For sketching a society where every voter and political officeholder had demonstrated through “voluntary and difficult service” that he or she “placed the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage,” Heinlein was denounced in some quarters as fascist or worse.
Jim Crow in battle dress uniform would be unwise and unworkable, but we needn’t go that far to wonder whether the shortage of professional journalists with military experience has been a handicap in the civilized world’s ongoing struggle with Islamism. If you ever meet a reporter with paratrooper wings, shake his hand, because J-school and Jump School are too often worlds apart.p>The hole in our information roster can’t be blamed exclusively on journalists themselves; it’s part of a hole in the culture at large. Consider the paucity of military figures in prime-time TV listings. Kiefer Sutherland’s portrayal of muscular counterterrorism in 24 may be enough to ensure that he never has to buy a drink in bars near Fort Campbell and Camp Lejeune, but Jack Bauer is technically a civilian. And while the now-defunct br> J.A.G. was military-friendly, shows about characters in the armed forces come few and far between. You can go back in TV history as far as Rat Patrol (1966-1968) and still find that doctors and lawyers command more small-screen time than soldiers. /p>
There are journalists doing yeoman work to correct public ignorance about military matters. The late Michael Kelly was one such person; Robert Kaplan, Bill Roggio, and Mike Yon are three others. Sadly, their reporting is too often brushed aside for you-are-there bromides from the well-traveled but inexpert likes of correspondents like Christiane Amanpour.
Consider my own locale: San Diego remains a Navy town, but in a story about the fall of former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham published last Friday, February 24, a staff writer on the biggest of the local newspapers leaned heavily on a report from a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who opined for Cunningham’s defense team that the Vietnam ace convicted of corruption was brought down by a “mantle of invulnerability” born of a fighter pilot’s love for “aggressive tactics.” The psychiatrist also had the temerity to suggest that although Cunningham was expected to behave differently in Congress than he had while shooting down Soviet aircraft (imagine!), “the psyche cannot make such a U-turn easily.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?