Monday, September 04, 2006

The Need for Courage in a Time of Fear-Mongering

The midterm elections are two months away. Already, Bush's friends are trying to use Iran the way they used Iraq. A lot of things are being said that aren't justified by the facts or by good sense. One of the victims of Republican attacks in 2002 was Max Cleland. Arianna Huffington has a post on him:
To Cleland, fearlessness is essential to good leadership. Dealing with one's fears is what he calls "the inner work" necessary before one can become a leader. "If you're dominated by your fears," he told me, "you won't make good decisions when the hard times come and you are facing tough choices."

For him, dealing with your fears is synonymous with building character. Without completing that "inner work of preparation," you are just another poll-driven pol. And as citizens, we must do our part, too -- the more we can master our own fears, the more clear-eyed we will be and the less susceptible to disgraceful, fear-based campaigns, like the one run by Saxby Chambliss.

Chambliss, as many of you remember, is the man who ran against Cleland in 2002 and won by impugning Cleland's patriotism and indeed, running ads comparing him to Osama bin Laden. So a man who got out of military service by claiming a "bum knee" is now a United States Senator, having run a disgraceful campaign against a decorated war veteran who lost three limbs serving his country in Vietnam. What would have destroyed most men instead fueled Cleland's passion for public service. He went from running the Veterans Administration for Jimmy Carter, to Georgia Secretary of State, to the United State Senate in 1996.

Smears and fearmongering by Republicans who have not served against Democratic veterans who have served is something I don't understand. Ann Coulter pointed out that Cleland lost his limbs not in a battle but in an accident after a battle. There's a difference? My brother served during Vietnam in helicopters and he knew soldiers who died in helicopter crashes before they ever reached their first battle. Is there a difference? I met several veterans on the day they got back back from Vietnam (some stayed in my parents' house a few days); I remember one in particular who died a week later driving home 2,000 miles cross-country. Too many of our soldiers died that way and were never counted in the casualty reports. Is there a difference?

There's a lot of good Republicans in this country but they're not the ones running things these days. Americans everywhere need to have the courage to look the radical right wing Republicans in the eye and say: enough is enough.

Today is Labor Day. I'm going out to a barbecue and having a drink with some friends.


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