THE BLOG
11/18/2005 02:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why the Chickenhawk Point Is Valid

Rep. John Murtha made a widely reported speech Thursday about Iraq. Whether or not you agree with his call for immediate withdrawal, he was certainly correct with his disdain for Cheney, Wolfowitz and the others who conceived the war, but had never been in the military themselves. This is the AP description:

"Underscoring the rising emotions of the war debate, Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," said Murtha, a former Marine. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

The warbloggers went crazy. Hugh Hewitt said, "That's fever swamp stuff, the old "chickenhawk" charge that would be equally applicable to hundreds of Democrats in Congress as well as great war time leaders like FDR. It discredits the Congressman, not his targets. Murtha's 30+ years in the Marines make him a great American. But he's a lousy Congressman today and a cheap shot artist to boot." (Instapundit linked to this earlier today, but for some reason the link is gone.)

Let me try to explain this. It appears that those who pushed and operated this war were very cavalier with the lives of our servicemen. First, there was a rush to war that was not necessary for its stated purpose, but could be explained by the neo-cons' near-religious belief that a good ass-whipping of Sadaam would be a panacea for the Middle East, undoubtedly synergizing with the President's pique at the assassination attempt on 41. Second, there were too few troops with too little protection. Third, continuing the faith-based theme, there was virtually no planning, it appears, for what to do as occupiers beyond the belief expressed on Meet the Press by Vice-President Cheney that "we will be greeted as liberators."

So, the point is that it is particularly galling when the people who have put American lives at greater risk than necessary have never taken the risk themselves. That is not to say that one must have been in the service to be a war-time leader. It is to say that the leaders who botched this war should have been as concerned about our soldiers' lives as they previously were about their own. Additionally, as far as I know, Cheney has never discussed his failure to serve beyond saying that he had "other priorities." We know considerably more about Bill Clinton's attempts to smoke hashish.