Mike Kueber's Blog

January 15, 2013

Chicken hawks of the Senate

Dana Milbank from the Washington Post used his column today to defend Chuck Hagel from concern expressed by three Republican senators:

  • In Vietnam in 1968, two separate mine explosions left Chuck Hagel with shrapnel in his chest and burns on his face and arms.  This is not a man who is going to shrink from a fight with the chicken hawks of the Senate.”

According to Milbank, “Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) called Hagel’s record ‘extremely concerning.’ Sen. David Vitter (La.) said Hagel’s confirmation ‘would send exactly the wrong message.’ Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said Hagel’s views send ‘the worst possible signal.’  Neither Cornyn nor Vitter lists military service in his biography. Graham was an Air Force lawyer.”

Hypocritically, Milbank has the gall to accuse Senator Lindsey Graham (born 1955) of being a chicken hawk despite his six years of active-duty service and subsequent Guard service (albeit as a mere lawyer).  Senator Vitter (born 1961) graduated from college in 1983, and I’m not sure what war Milbank thinks Vitter should have volunteered for. 

Senator Cornyn (born 1952) does own a history that is consistent with most of the college kids of his time.  As indicated in a detailed on-line article, Cornyn appears to have used a student deferment to avoid service during the Vietnam War. 

I have always found the term “chicken hawk” to be childish and disgusting – childish in calling someone “chicken” and disgusting in suggesting that only veterans can favor taking military action.  Should we call John Kerry a killer dove for fighting in Vietnam and then later opposing the war?  Should President Obama be called a chicken dove for declining to serve in the military and then later opposing most military action?  (I might be sensitive to the term because I consider “chicken” to be a fighting term and because I actively avoided Vietnam service in the early 70s.)

I have an idea – how about saying that only people who have served have the right to call someone else a chicken hawk.  That would eliminate Maureen Dowd of the NY Times, who loves to use the term.  It would also eliminate Dana Milbank (born 1968), who was going to Yale and in the secret society of Skull & Bones when Bush-41 was sending American kids into harm’s way.

Milbank’s column elicited 2472 comments, most of them favorable.  Dowd’s columns routinely provoke the same sort of cynical responses.  I see San Antonio’s recently elected congressman, Joaquin Castro do the same thing on his Facebook page.  Seems they have decided that their popularity depends on rousing the rabble.  That’s sad.

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