Writing in The New York Times, U.S. Naval Academy historian Aaron B. O'Connell worries that a paucity of veterans in Congress makes lawmakers apt to mindlessly "support the troops" and oppose cuts in military spending:
Of course, veterans should be thanked for serving their country, as should police officers, emergency workers and teachers. But no institution—particularly one financed by the taxpayers —should be immune from thoughtful criticism….
Most of the political discourse on military matters comes from civilians, who are more vocal about "supporting our troops" than the troops themselves. It doesn't help that there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any previous point since World War II. Those who have served are less likely to offer unvarnished praise for the military, for it, like all institutions, has its own frustrations and failings. But for non-veterans—including about four-fifths of all members of Congress—there is only unequivocal, unhesitating adulation. The political costs of anything else are just too high.
If Mitt Romney had served in the military, maybe he would be less inclined to portray every so-called cut to the so-called defense budget, even when it amounts to merely a smaller increase, as recklessly endangering the nation's security.