THE ARTFUL DODGERS

August 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 3 Aug. 2015  Presidential candidate Donald Trump has raised a ruckus by saying that Sen. John McCain “was not a hero.” Most people, including those also running for their party’s presidential nomination, have jumped into the fight, court martialing Trump for his opinion. But, in fact, we do overuse the title “hero,” especially when ordering sandwiches. If every person in the military is a hero, even every POW is one, this dilutes the beatification of those of us who truly deserve the honor. So this is a good time to look at the military records of people who would be our commander in chief. McCain deserves the title, not because he was shot down and tortured, but because when the North Vietnamese government realized that McCain, the son and grandson of admirals, was the son of the commander of the U.S. Navy Pacific Command, they offered to free him. McCain would only accept repatriation if every man taken before him was released as well. No deal, said his torturers. I don’t know about you, but I would have been on the next Southwest flight out of Hanoi. McCain’s naval honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross. This makes him a hero. As for today’s wannabe presidents, militarily they are a pretty sorry lot. The draft ended in 1973, so any male candidate born after 1955, didn’t face compulsory military service. But could volunteer. (Incidentally, the Selective Service System law is still in effect, and all males between 18 and 25 must register. Wonder what percentage?) Trump admits to applying and receiving four separate draft deferments, then got a medical deferment because of a bone spur on his foot. When asked which foot, he said he didn’t know, adding: “You’ll have to look it up.” Huh? He doesn’t know which foot? Jeb Bush was eligible for the draft, and registered for service during his freshman year at UT, but the war was slowing and he was never called. ”I got a physical,” he said. “I was prepared to serve.” But he never volunteered, either. (At this point it is only fair that I explain my own military service. I cleverly avoided the Army draft by joining the U.S. Marine Corps. My drill instructor urged me to defect.) Among others in the GOP fold, Rick Santorum did not serve, nor did Chris Christi, although the Army said he could join as a tank. Dr. Ben Carson excelled in JROTC in high school, quickly rose in rank and was offered an appointment to West Point. He turned it down for Yale, and never joined the military. Ted Cruz never put on a uniform, either that of the US or Canada. (Remember, Cruz didn’t renounce his Canadian citizenship until August 2013 when his dual citizenship was revealed by the Dallas Morning News.) Still there are other GOP candidates who really did put on a uniform. Rick Perry joined the Air Force after graduating from Texas A&M, where he was in the Corps of Cadets. Perry flew C-130s, those great big cargo planes, all over the world. Lindsey Graham, being a lawyer, served in the JAG of the Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard, then the Air Force Reserves, rising to the rank of colonel. And those are about it in the ranks of the GOP. Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rand Paul, George Pataki, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Carly Fiorina, among others, seem to have gotten no closer to military duty than giving to the Salvation Army. This is traditional. The Republican’s last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, did not serve in the military, but did receive a deferment to serve the Mormon Church on a 30-month mission. In Uganda? Bolivia? Mali? Not exactly. In France. He received four draft deferments and a safe lottery number. On the other hand, as a college student Romney had demonstrated in favour of the Vietnam War. That is called an “oxy-Mormon.” Romney has five sons. None of them ever put on a uniform. The most famous high profile GOPer is super-hawk on Iraq, Dick Chaney, who received five deferments during the Vietnam War, (so did Joe Biden), explaining later: “I had other priorities in the 60’s than military service.” The Democrats also have very little to salute in this matter. Bill Clinton was a master draft dodger. He jumped through hoops to avoid the military. The front runner in the Dem primaries is Hillary Clinton, who never served, even as a nurse. On the other hand, would you really want to be wounded and lying in a field hospital with Nurse Ratched taking care of you? Bernie Sanders is old enough to have qualified for the draft – into the Union Army. I can’t find any evidence he ever joined any military, but his record is anti-war and supporter of veterans. Lincoln Chafee graduated with a degree in classics from Brown University. He then moved to Bozeman, Mont., studied to become a farrier at Montana State University, then worked at harness racetracks. Maybe he could join the horse cavalry. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s father served in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific during WW II, and said he witnessed the mushroom cloud rise over Hiroshima while on a routine mission. That’s close enough for government work. Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia, led a Marine Corps platoon and company in Vietnam, later served as assistant defense secretary and secretary of the Navy. His medals include the Navy Cross (that’s second only to the Medal of Honor), the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. So we have candidates who want to be our commander in chief, but most either dodged the draft or never volunteered to serve in the military. To those Americans who actually put on a uniform, this says more about their character than all their campaign speeches. AWOL Ashby is hiding at ashby2@comcast.net

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