I attend quite a few campaign events during election season and I’m rather pleased that this year, given that Virginia is a battleground state, we have both presidential candidates making numerous visits. There’s an opportunity to learn something about a candidate in person that no television or radio program will ever reveal to you, even when you’re surrounded by ten thousand other people. Tonight was that chance for me to learn something about Mitt Romney, and I couldn’t be happier to have had that chance.
I’ve heard Mitt Romney debate, I’ve seen him at events before, and honestly most of tonight’s event was the same stuff I’d heard many times before. It’s good stuff, mind you — real talk about our economy, about our foreign policy, about our domestic challenges, and I appreciate that he’s forcefully making the case that we need a change. What I hadn’t seen up to now was an unscripted moment. Those are the kinds of things that campaigns utterly detest, and do everything they can to eliminate any possibility that a candidate could veer from their rehearsed remarks and do anything that hadn’t been carefully thought out in advance, subjected to review by high-priced consultants, carefully assembled focus groups, and selected donors. I love them, though. That’s where you get to know the person.
During Mitt’s speech the unique, unmistakable sound of an approaching UH-1 Iroquis (known in common parlance as a “Huey”) helicopter started to rise. During my time in the infantry I’d heard that sound hundreds of times, and recognized it immediately. It got louder and louder, and eventually got the attention of Mitt Romney. Romney stopped what he was doing, looked up, and this sense of awe and wonder washed over his face before he veered off his speech and started talking about how much he respects those who serve in our armed forces.
That’s not the look of a faker. That look reminds me precisely of how I felt when I saw a member of the armed forces when I was a kid, an expression of admiration, respect and love that ultimately inspired me to enlist in the armed forces. Mitt’s path in life was different than mine, but it’s clear to me especially now that when he talks about how he cares for our military that is an honest expression of what is in his heart.
So what’s the big deal about that? How many presidents have we had who decided that military lives were less important than political advantage? Presidents who not only sent these brave men and women off to combat, but then slashed their training, equipment, and operational budgets so they wouldn’t have the tools and training they needed to succeed in a war zone? Too damn many.
My gut churns with the memory of what Bill Clinton did to our armed forces, and then sent them off to terrifically dangerous places like Bosnia. I remember buying transmission fluid for a HMMWV (a “HummVee” to you non-veterans out there) because there was no money in the maintenance budget to provide it. Sometimes we bought our own ammunition to supplement the pitiful allocation we got under that administration, because otherwise we couldn’t qualify all our riflemen. Training was reduced, equipment went unrepaired, morale dropped, and our ability to survive on the battlefield suffered. All so the philanderer-in-chief could have his “peace dividend.” I can only imagine what is happening to soldiers under the Obama administration, but some of the stories I’ve heard about what his senior officials have been doing during their visits to Afghanistan have me very deeply concerned, and if those folks are willing to put our soldiers at risk, I can just imagine what is happening on the front lines.
I learned tonight that Mitt Romney will be a very different president, one who treats our armed forces as a very valuable national asset worthy of his dedication, and which will only be employed after careful consideration and preparation. I’m certain he’s not going to second-guess military leaders to make them take a course of action that may seem politically advantageous, but militarily foolish. He will listen, he will learn what those leaders will teach him, and I have little doubt he will perform as well in the role of commander-in-chief as did Ronald Reagan, who was C-in-C when I enlisted. Reagan’s love for the armed forces didn’t just come from his movie roles, he wore a uniform as well, and serving under his command was utterly wonderful.
If a military helicopter flew over Obama while he was giving a campaign speech, can you imagine him doing anything other than hoping to get revenge on the pilot? Just consider how the vastly differing contexts between these two candidates would like manifest themselves as they made decisions which ultimately decide who will live and who will die. Vote accordingly.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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