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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
This Isn't Kevindrumwatch, I Swear

Finally, the last half hour of [Fahrenheit 9/11] includes a piece of street theater in which Moore accosts congressmen on Capitol Hill and asks if they'll try to get their sons and daughters to enlist in the military. It's a brutally unfair question, but one that echoes a standard debating point of Hitchens and others: "Would you prefer that Saddam Hussein was still in power?" It's a question that's unanswerable in 10 words or less, and about as meaningful as Moore's ambush interviews with congressmen.


There's a problem in that paragraph. Can anyone tell me what it is? Take 15 seconds and read it again. Anyone?

The problem with the paragraph is this clause: "It's a brutally unfair question." It's problematic because it is the opposite of the truth. The question isn't "brutally unfair." It's not even maternally-caressing-ly unfair. It is perfectly fair.

These guys voted to send thousands of our young men and women into harm's way. These guys voted to kill a whole mess of Iraqis. These guys voted to blow over 100 billion dollars in the interest of doing so.

It would seem to me that if you vote for those kinds of things, you'd better mean it. In one sense, saying the goal was worth risking your child's life, being willing to make a sacrifice, the same sacrifice that countless families here and in Iraq are making, would be an appropriate statement of such.

We have a professional, volunteer army. You can choose not to join. That's how the system works. Congressmen's sons are, well, fortunate. Most of them have better choices available to them than to make a career in the armed forces. They go to college and to graduate school, they get jobs, and their family name opens a lot of doors for them. For a congressman to say that his son or daughter should be put into the Middle Eastern meatgrinder when there are better choices available would be stupid.

There's actually an easy and correct answer to this question: "Yes I would. I believe in this war. It's vitally important that we win, and we need every soldier we can get to make sure we do. I can't force my son to join, but I wouldn't stand in his way. In fact, I'd salute him." Boom. End of question.

The difficulty these congressmen are having answering Moore's question stems from the fact that they no longer mean it (that is, if they ever did). Most of them let themselves be talked into supporting the war, and it isn't turning out anything like they thought it would. They don't have the courage of their convictions, and are forcing it onto the military and their families, to say nothing of the nation of Iraq.

To top it off, they should have known better. The 'evidence' offered up in support of invasion was sketchy. The rationales behind it shifted constantly. No one could get a single straight answer from the Executive Branch about anything having to do with Iraq. The entire freaking rest of the world thought it was a Really Dumb Idea. But they voted for it anyway. And when we're done, Iraq will still be a mess, and we'll have paid dearly in blood for it.

They didn't take their jobs seriously enough, and Moore is calling their (and our) attention to it. It's about time somebody did.