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The left lacks patriotism by constantly attacking the military.

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The Democrats’ Anti-Military Problem

The left lacks patriotism by constantly attacking the military.

One of this election season’s most bizarre developments is the Democrats’ persistence in highlighting what voters regard as the party’s greatest liability, a lack of patriotism, by constantly attacking what voters regard as the country’s greatest asset, the military. 

We’ve gotten used to the political Left’s anti-military animus, and even the recent spate of violence at military recruiting centers and mis-titled “peace” demonstrations across the country surprises few of us. 

But the anti-military virus that infects the Left has spread to a disturbing number of prominent national Democrats, including, most recently, Senator Jay Rockefeller. Rockefeller, the Senate’s Intelligence Committee chairman, attacked Senator John McCain last week during an interview with the Charleston Gazette. Rockefeller said:

"McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."

Several of the senator’s facts are simply wrong, but far more disturbing is the radical worldview betrayed by such remarks. John McCain was a pilot serving his country during a time of war. Yet Senator Rockefeller speaks about his service with such contempt that the reader is left with the impression that John McCain is the “bad guy.”

The McCain campaign was quick to respond with a statement from retired Marine Lt. Col. Orson Swindle, who said:

“Senator Rockefeller’s statement is an insult to all the men and women who are serving or have served in America’s military. Had Senator Rockefeller served himself, he would appreciate and understand that most who have been to war emerge with a much deeper concern for humanity than they otherwise might. If he knew what he was talking about, he would know that John McCain wasn’t dropping laser-guided missiles at 35,000 feet in 1967.”

On the campaign trail, McCain often cites his wartime experiences, including five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, as having helped form his belief in the importance of defending human rights, or as Rockefeller might say, “the rights of people.”

Under pressure from the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, whom he recently endorsed, Rockefeller apologized, saying, “I have deep respect for John McCain’s honorable and noble service to our country. I made an inaccurate and wrong analogy and I have extended my sincere apology to him. I regret my very poor choice of words.” 

But Rockefeller is just the latest in a long line of Democrats who have disparaged the American military. Democrat Rep. Jack Murtha has called our Marines, “cold blooded killers.” Democrat Senator John Kerry accused our soldiers of “terrorizing women and children” in Iraq. Democrat Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, compared our military police at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis and Soviet gulag guards. And Ted Kennedy once said that, “Saddam’s torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management.” 

It might seem strange that so many Democrats align themselves with their party’s anti-military fringe, especially given that these extremists are so few in number and hold foreign policy views that are to the left of both Obama and Hillary, whose views, in turn, are well to the left of most voters. But the anti-war extremists have come to compose the most ruthless and vocal interest group in American politics. 

The anti-war movement has devolved from smug anti-Bushism to the belief that America, its military and allies are at the root of all that ails the world. Democratic politicians must move in lock step with the fringe anti-war left or risk being savaged by the “net-roots,” whose demands for a swift withdrawal from Iraq, ironically, would provoke more war, bloodshed and possibly genocide.   

This week, I received word from friends that their only son had been killed in Iraq. Having already served two tours of duty as a Navy SEAL, their son recently returned to Iraq to train Iraqi special forces when the truck he was riding in was hit by an IED, which exploded, killing the truck’s driver and all eight passengers. 

What struck me was that despite losing their only son, my friends were resolute in their belief that America must promote and defend liberty in the Middle East. If these parents of a fallen hero can remain steadfast to the cause of liberty, why do so many others find it so difficult?

The Democrats must stand up to their party’s anti-military fringe, because while Americans may be frustrated with the pace of progress in Iraq, I believe the “silent majority” is rapidly running out of patience for the “blame America first” crowd and the “God D— America” chorus. It’s high time for the Democrats to prove that they are not, as Senator Joe Lieberman contends, “emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq.”

The American electorate will not put up with the steady stream of vicious attacks against American troops, whose selfless bravery on battlefields across the globe and unwavering devotion to the idea that freedom must prevail serve as an example to all Americans.

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Written By

Former presidential candidate Mr. Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.

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