February 13, 2007

Maybe I'm wasted

Am I missing something about Obama's gaffe? How is saying that the lives of American troops have been wasted in Iraq an insult to them? He never said it was their fault. If they had worked hard and heroically to build a house only to have the president and secretary of defense set fire to it, wouldn't we say that their work had been wasted?

This isn't even a Kinsley gaffe. If it were, Obama's apology would have involved retracting his statement. But he didn't -- he just reworded it. In what possible sense is there a difference between saying that the civilian leadership "has not honored" the troops because it "put them in a situation" in which they have died by the thousands and saying that the civilian leadership "wasted" their lives by putting them in the same situation? If you read the initial comment as an insult, don't you have to read the apology the same way? That is, the first comment says that the troops whole lives were a waste and the second says that the troops have no honor. Yikes!

Alternately, the second comment says that the president dishonored the troops and the first one says he wasted their lives. Neither one impugns the soldiers.

Please respond by pointing out the flaws in my logic or going into a tirade about how the right wing media is trying to bring down Obama.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


Or maybe that makes it the definition of a Kinsley gaffe. Whatevs.

"How is saying that the lives of American troops have been wasted in Iraq an insult to them?"

Well, only if they've re-upped or believe that what they're doing is right. Which I'm sure is a very small percentage of them.

I still don't see how that insults them, Jim. Disagrees with them, sure, but 'insults'?

I don't think that conservatives insult the poor when they say that money is "wasted" on welfare because it is poorly administered or provides dubious incentives.

AND believe that the war has been perfectly planned and executed (i.e., disagreeing with Obama's contention that it is very difficult for them to win). I'm sure that is a small percentage.

But even then, this doesn't fly. Almost by definition, soldiers don't base their actions on their own beliefs -- and quite rightly so. Which means that regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the cause, they have put their lives in the service of their country and it (in the form of its government), is responsible, not them.

February 2007 is way to early to be talking about this stuff. Do we really have to sit through 21 more months of this?

It will be worth it though, if once - just once - a candidate refused to apologize because someone else misinterpreted his words. These constant "sorry if I offended you" backtracks drive me bonkers.

It will be worth it if people get burned out on the trivia and begin debating issues of substance. Other people, I mean, not me. I'm going back to naughty cub scouts.

Hey look, an actual troop verifies my reply to Jim:

Why is it that so many Americans believe if we withdraw from a war in which we should never have been in the first place, then it follows that our military servicemembers who died or were wounded did so in vain? What rubbish! I am a Navy veteran, and I know perfectly well that a soldier who does his duty CANNOT die in vain. Was Obama right when he said over 3000 American lives were "wasted"? Absolutely, because Bush squandered them in a war that we never could possibly have won. But they did their duty, and so did not die in vain. The shrill cries from the right that we could have won sound suspiciously like sports fans who say their team could have won every game if only so and so did this or if the referee had called that. Spoiled brats who didn't get their way. War is not a game, people, and if you find yourself in the middle of somebody else's civil war, the only sensible thing to do is to get the hell out. Obama is right on that point.

"I still don't see how that insults them, Jim."




"It will be worth it if people get burned out on the trivia and begin debating issues of substance."

And you said you weren't funny!

Anyway: Obama's "gaffe" was indeed only a gaffe in a Republican fantasyland.

The only flaw I see in your logic is in the idea that Obama's apology did not sufficiently address the (imaginary) problem. The (theoretical) people who were offended by Obama's comment were offended by the idea the troops' lives had been wasted — when the better question is whether their deaths have been wasted.

Changing his wording to address a question of whether we're properly honoring the troops allowed Obama to sidestep the pretend controversy, in a way that incorporates the Republican Party's imaginary patriotism.


Well, either you see it or you don't. I'm too tired to crush Daniel's dissent, maybe later.

Geez, you've got half the comments on this thread, Daniel. A guy can hardly get a word in edgewise.

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2