Zell's Hell


I was typing a long blog post about just why Zell Miller freaked me out tonight, and then I noticed it was A) half-finished, B) 1,192 words long, C) 8:50 in the morning on a night (?) I still haven't gone to bed.

So, let's start off with an easy one:

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer [of 1940], told America "all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger."

Can you see how this sentiment, intended as a useful comparison to our current times, might give a libertarian-leaning fellow some pause? I want the government to take important steps protecting us from terrorism, even going to war if absolutely necessary, but I won't have my private plans, let alone all private lives overridden in that cause's name. When the government "ovverrides" us in the name of war, then the terrorists truly have etc. Also, I might add, this is neither required nor remotely effective, and the fact that the party of limited government (snicker) finds such twaddle appealing—and has in fact used similar justifications for any number foolish power-grabs, from expanding government secrecy to placing detainees in legal limbo, is both scary and topical.

there is no better example of someone repealing their "private plans" than this good man [Wendell Wilkie; Republican nominee in 1940]. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft

First of all, there have been plenty of greater sacrifices made in history than a presidential candidate agreeing with the incumbent about some issue. Pat Tillman strikes me as having sacrificed a good deal more—for instance, his multi-million-dollar football career, and his life—than losing a political campaign he was likely to lose anyway (though, for old hacks like Miller, it's not surprising that losing an election is somehow worse than death). More importantly, this is a friendly contemporary reference to a war draft, which is an idea I hope never regains one inch of traction in this country. If, as the Republicans have been saying all week, the WoT is just like WWII and the Cold War, why, after all, shouldn't we be applying the same policies? I'll answer: Because I don't want the government forcing its citizens to kill strangers, period. Again, this is also a lousy way to win wars.

Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?

Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrat's manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief.

Read those two sentences separately, then reflect that they were consecutive. That's just crazy talk (taken straight out of the Kerry playbook, to be sure). More importantly, his embarrassing hyperbolizing of what the other mainstream presidential candidate has done—has he really torn apart this nation?—has the consequence and direct intended effect of shutting down criticism of the Commander in Chief. Again, not something to be welcomed, and again, something that is directly deleterious to the War on Terror.

Incidentally, I'd like to make a public service announcement that apparently will come as a great shock to some of you: Americans who don't plan on voting for Bush also want to win the War on Terror.

Tell that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Baltics to the Crimea, from Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of liberators, not occupiers.

I will yield to no American politician my celebration of the 1989 revolutions, but to attribute them directly—and solely—to Ronald Reagan rebuilding a military of liberators (who didn't, incidentally, fire a shot), is just silly and narcissistic, not to mention a bit condescending to our Czech friends. And once you take that formulation—all it takes to free the world is a massively rebuilt U.S. army!—you can extrapolate it in ways that will be counterproductive to the War on Terror, democracy in America, and the very global freedom it aims to engender.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

This, my friends, is militaristic bullshit, and if any of you applauded these lines, you ought to be embarrassed. It is the Constitution that gave us freedom of speech and assembly, not our great servicemen and women, and any politician who doesn't understand that—while looking back fondly on the military draft, attributing peaceful revolutions to American military buildups, and murmuring with approval at "overriding … all our private lives"—should be voted out of office with gusto, and forced to do late-night cable shows with Arianna Huffington. This is a child's empty bluster, not some kind of stern, adult "straight" talk. Not to mention the cheap digs on those hated reporters, poets, agitators and protesters, each of which was met with hoots and stomps and hollers from the Republican delegates, many of whom are elected officials themselves.

So, this is why I found it frightening. The phony and monstrous world of militaristic government expansion that Miller conjures up is one I would refuse to live in, though thankfully it won't come to that, and the fact that national politicians who currently run the free world find it persuasive makes me shudder with revulsion. There's plenty more in the speech worth criticizing—I didn't even talk about how creepy he looked and sounded!—but even though this city never sleeps, I sure need to.