blogenlust
1.02.2005

Frank Rich Speaks


If I were you, I'd read Frank Rich's latest column. Some salient excerpts:
So the soldiers soldier on, and we party on. As James Dao wrote in The New York Times, "support our troops" became a verbal touchstone in 2004, yet "only for a minuscule portion of the populace, mainly those with loved ones overseas, does it have anything to do with sacrifice." Quite the contrary: we have our tax cuts, and a president who promises to make them permanent. Such is the disconnect between the country and the war that there is no national outrage when the president awards the Medal of Freedom to the clowns who undermined the troops by bungling intelligence (George Tenet) and Iraqi support (Paul Bremer). Such is the disconnect that Washington and the news media react with slack-jawed shock when one of those good soldiers we support so much speaks up at a town hall meeting in Kuwait and asks the secretary of defense why vehicles that take him and his brothers into battle lack proper armor. [...] The ethos could hardly have been more different during the World War II so frequently invoked by Mr. Bush. As David Brinkley recounted in his 1988 history, "Washington Goes to War," the Roosevelt administration's first big push "was a tremendous voluntary program to reduce the deficit, encourage saving, trim spending and thus curb inflation - the sale of war bonds." Though bonds would not in the end pay for the war - that would require the sacrifice of paying taxes - F.D.R. believed that his campaign "would give the public a sense of involvement in a war being fought thousands of miles away, a war so distant many Americans had difficulty at times remembering it was there at all." Gen. George Marshall, the Army's chief of staff, took it on himself to write notes by hand to the family of each man killed in battle until the volume forced the use of Western Union telegrams. [...] Washington's next celebration will be the inauguration. Roosevelt decreed that the usual gaiety be set aside at his wartime inaugural in January 1945. There will be no such restraint in the $40 million, four-day extravaganza planned this time, with its top ticket package priced at $250,000. The official theme of the show is "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." That's no guarantee that the troops in Iraq will get armor, but Washington will, at least, give home-front military personnel free admission to one of the nine inaugural balls and let them eat cake.
I'd love to know how we can fix this disconnect, especially since our outrage bar has been raised so high that we're virtually blind to everything wrong with this war and Administration.