Friday, September 05, 2008

GOP Talked of Terrorists and Iraq, But Not Veterans, Dead Troops

I don't know why, but I thought maybe for this convention the Republican party would drop their tired fear-and-smear playbook and try something different. I guess I assumed with the American people seeming to have forgotten that we still have well over 100,000 soldiers and Marines trapped in the Iraq quagmire, that the GOP's main speakers would at least make the economy a centerpiece in their poisoning of the national dialog.

Boy, was I wrong.

Not only did they say next to nothing about the economy -- other than Grandpa Fred Thompson implying that Democrats are imagining the economic distress most Americans are feeling -- but they went right back to the most trusted Republican campaign technique: When you have nothing whatsoever to offer the American people, scare the crap out of them.

In addition to the bizarre repetition perfected by the Marquis de Thompson Tuesday of going over in detail every torture John McCain endured as a POW -- you didn’t yet know he was a POW in Vietnam, did you? -- the other common denominator of all the major speeches was repeated use of terrorist fear-mongering.

"Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America," warned their Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, on Wednesday, adding of Obama the silly statement that "he’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights."

"John McCain hit the nail on the head: Radical, violent Islam is evil, and he will defeat it," crowed Mitt Romney, referring to McCain's pandering to the Religious Right in an interview a couple of weeks ago.

Thompson mentioned "terrorists, rogue nations developing nuclear weapons" and, of course, the GOP's ace fearleader, George W. Bush, even invoked 9/11 for the millionth or so time saying ""we need a president who understands the lessons of September 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again."

Hell, that sorry excuse for a carbon-based lifeform, Joe Lieberman, even threw in a terrorist reference -- though oddly, there was no mention of the fact that Osama bin Laden is still podcasting threats again us and that the Republican party has done almost nothing to catch him in seven years.

And of course they took the time last night to run the requisite video exploiting the memory of all who died on September 11.

What did not one member of the faux, support-the-troops line-up mention -- not even one time?

The sacrifice of our military families, the number of troops who have returned home in coffins since Bush lied us into the Iraq disaster and the trials of Iraq war Veterans.

To steal from the shrill Rudy Giuliani's speech on Wednesday, they said "nada, nothing."

For a party that wants to convince Americans that the entire Iraq debacle can somehow be reduced to the small amount of time spent on the "surge," every major speech was missing any acknowledgement whatsoever of the troops who have died and those still serving on the ground in Iraq -- except the couple of instances where they used the troops to lie about Barack Obama's record.

Even Veteran John McCain who had run the entire Republican convention under the "Country First" marketing label, spent much of his acceptance speech focusing on himself and his POW resume, without one word for the troops still serving in a war of his party's making. He also said nothing about the nearly 4,200 troops who have died or the Veterans who have come back to neglect and mistreatment under the Bush administration.

And when his surrogates spend so much time hawking the "success" of the surge, they always leave out two critical pieces of information: What did injection of tens of thousands of U.S. troops -- which would naturally improve any situation, anywhere -- accomplish other than securing the capital city of a country having nothing at all to do with U.S. security? And more importantly, what do McCain and his party have to say about the almost 1,100 military men and women who have died since the surge-for-nothing began in February of 2007?

Nada, nothing.

In three nights of speeches by McCain, his running mate and all the major Republican presidential contenders, not one word was said about the troops they claim to adore, the cause they all continue to advance or the Veterans they say they support.

And it is perhaps McCain who has emerged from this scenario as the biggest hypocrite of all.

As he tries to spotlight himself as the oracle of national defense and the selfless proponent of "country first" -- while railing in his speech Thursday night about the " me-first-country-second, Washington crowd" -- McCain spent three days focusing on his life and what he went through 35 years ago without one word about the lives of the military people suffering in his war, today.

Republicans talked a lot this week about highlighting the "stark contrasts" between their candidate and Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama -- and here is that contrast: When Obama spoke last week in Denver, he talked movingly about being "… more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets" and spoke about how "in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill."

He also talked, as he has many times in his U.S. Senate tenure, about how he will "give better care for our veterans" and said that, in addition to so many children to protect, we have "so many veterans to care for."

And what did the major speakers at the Republican convention, including McCain and Palin -- the "country first" crowd -- have to say on the subject?

Nada, nothing.

* * * * *
Correction: Some right-wing "fans" have been quick to point out that in one tiny portion of his speech last night, Senator McCain did indeed say he wears the bracelet of one of our Iraq war dead and that he intends to honor that one family's sacrifice.

Fair enough. He did mention one of almost 4,200 dead troops. I regret the omission.

But if this was all that was said -- a couple of sentences about one young man -- in the combined 15,000 words spoken by McCain, Palin, Lieberman, Thompson, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee, it hardly detracts from my original premise.

The Iraq quagmire is a Republican war. They want it. They shill for it. They applaud it.

Given that many more troops will die for their war, that over 100,000 families exist on a daily basis missing a husband, wife, father or mother and that tens of thousands of our military men and women will bear the physical and emotional scars of this GOP travesty for a lifetime, couldn’t they have done a lot better than that?