Make us believe you mean it, Mitt. Bring back the draft.
For the better part of a week, I have been reading all these thinly veiled suggestions by Mitt Romney that President Obama isn't enough of an ass-kicker in the Middle East. His aides have been telling reporters that a President Romney right now would be threatening to cut off aid to Egypt, shaking a bigger fist at Iran and plunging into Syria with proffers of weapons and training for the opposition.
He says America is "at the mercy of events instead of shaping events" in the Middle East. In other words, we need to be telling those people over there to get in line or we'll put them in line.
I think most of us would agree on the direction that kind of language takes us inevitably. More war, more Iraq, more Afghanistan. Then we'd probably start disagreeing, you and I, on whether that's a good idea.
Me, I look at the film in the last week, and I figure that's just what those guys want. You have hundreds of thousands of young men without jobs, filled with rage that ought to be directed at their own screwed-up societies but eager to spend it on us instead, because that's easier for them. They're spoiling for a fight. Thirsty for blood. Especially ours.
And I know that doesn't automatically mean we can walk from the fight. It's case by case. But as long as Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are going to play the Rambo card as a central theme in their campaign, how about a simple good faith gesture to show they mean it? Re-institute the draft.
No deferments. No deferment for going to Harvard. No deferment for being a minister of religion in Paris. Everybody goes. More to the point, everybody's son and daughter goes. No more of this stuff where war is an employment program for poor and working class kids, and we just keep reassigning them over and over again until they get wounded, killed or kill themselves.
If macho is the path we need to take as a nation, let's all be macho. Let's see lots and lots of those 1-percenter kids marching onto the transport planes in desert camo with big packs on their backs.
Oh, don't bother getting after me about my own draft-dodger status during Vietnam. Absolutely true. I was, just like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Mitt Romney. We all ducked it. It was a mistake. The country shouldn't have allowed the middle and upper classes to buy their way out of war. That's what bred this contemptible culture of easy macho that we suffer from today.
It's always some 1-percenter like Romney shaking his fist talking about how the time for talk is over and now he's going to kick somebody's ass. But he's not going to kick anybody's ass. Nor will any of his sons kick anybody's ass. No, after he says, "Let the ass-kicking begin," an army of kids fresh out of high school and junior college will be sent over there to do it for them.
By calling the draft a jobs program, I do not mean to denigrate the patriotism and devotion to duty of the young men and women who choose military service. I'm just pointing out that there seems to be a lot more patriotism among non-rich kids than rich ones.
No? Unfair? I'm trying to foment class warfare? OK, I see your point. I understand why you might take it that way. So let's clear the air. Let's dispense with that possibility right now. Let's look for the following headline in the days ahead:
ROMNEY/RYAN CALL FOR UNIVERSAL MILITARY DRAFT. Urgent times, urgent action, GOP hopefuls say. Also a call for patriotic volunteers.
Ann Arbor -- On the steps of the University of Michigan Student Union where JFK proposed the Peace Corps 52 years ago, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called on Congress to institute a universal military draft with no deferments, urging young Americans to volunteer before they are drafted.
"'Ask not to be deferred," Romney said with running mate Paul Ryan at his shoulder. "Ask to serve.'"
Then at least I will believe the tough talk. Short of that, I will continue to take them for a couple of privileged French-cuff ninnies shouting from the window of their limo, "You should all go to war for us, you marvelous, strong, simple people, you."
Not saying we don't have to go to war some times. Just saying let's go open up that limo door, grab them by the collar and bring those healthy-looking orthodontic wonders along with us for a change.
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