I’m old enough to remember President Bush’s first term when Republicans and Democrats alike were so obsessed with politically capitalizing on supporting the troops that it became a thing to act like soldiers. That’s not to say the adulation wasn’t deserved, but even at the time it seemed disingenuous and hamfisted. There was, of course, the time when George W. Bush dressed up like a fighter jock; there was the time when then-Senator George Allen (R-VA) dressed up like a Confederate officer in the rebellion-porn film Gods & Generals; and yes, there was the time when actual veteran John Kerry launched his Democratic Convention speech with the desperately soldierly line: “I’m John Kerry, reporting for duty.”
In those days, to criticize the president meant undermining the commander-in-chief when our soldiers were in harm’s way. It might sound like I’m unfairly building a strawman: over-simplifying what many pundits said at the time, so we’ll hand this one off to the following blockquotes:
“The only ideas that they espouse are ways to undermine the troops in harm’s way and undermine their commander in chief while they’re at war. Your candidates have no idea how to keep this economy strong.”
—Sean Hannity, 10/18/06
“You know, Norman, those comments while we are at war, while troops are in harm’s way, while he is the commander in chief, do you not see the outrage in that?” —Sean Hannity, 11/12/07
“I have had it with members of your party undermining our troops, undermining a commander in chief while we are at war…” —Sean Hannity, 11/05
“You don’t criticize the Commander-in-Chief in the middle of a firefight. That could be construed as putting U.S. forces in jeopardy and undermining morale.” —Bill O’Reilly, 04/04
“Can we do it without distorting their legacies and pandering to anti-American elites worldwide and using their deaths to embarrass and undermine our commander in chief?” —Michelle Malkin, 11/23/05
“On the other hand, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat Congress are successful in undermining the commander-in-chief (thereby emboldening the terrorists to kill more Americans in Iraq)…” —Tom DeLay, 04/11/07
“And furthermore, one of the fundamental principles we have in America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason.” —Pat Robertson, 12/07/05
For the record, criticizing the president during wartime is perfectly acceptable, regardless of whether the president’s name is Bush or Obama. But you can’t condemn it under one president, while very loudly marketing in it during an opposing party’s term. Well, you can, I suppose, but it’ll sound inconsistent and silly, so…
Back to the point.
Not only has it become de-rigueur for the above-listed characters to criticize the commander-in-chief during wartime, but it’s fine and dandy to tar the president as being everything from a terrorist sleeper-cell to literally the Antichrist. Again, knock yourself out, but be ready to defend yourself against accusations of clear-cut hypocrisy.
With the Bowe Bergdahl story entering its second week, the troops themselves as well as their families are now clearly fair game, too.
It appears as if we’ve entered an era when soldiers are not only tasked with risking their lives for their nation, but the conservative entertainment complex has added a new requirement: to be personally awesome in every way or else suffer a different kind of jihad — a media jihad here at home… READ MORE