The Cuts, The Runs 

And the cunning runts

"So many minority youths had volunteered, there was literally no room for patriotic folks like me."

--Tom Delay, on why he never served in the U.S. military.

Since I last used Bush's damnable war as the dominant theme of a column, it's been 15 weeks. Or 216 more dead American soldiers ... depending on how you're keeping track.

Now, you'd think I'd be writing about nothing but the war, wouldn't you, seeing as how I consider it to be the most corrosive thing going on with my country at present, not to mention the single most durable screw-up made by any bunch of Americans in my lifetime and likely in the life of the nation.

And Lord knows, there's been plenty to write about in those weeks. Bush's little Green Zone fly-by, for instance, where he proved if you're moving fast enough, Baghdad is as safe as the Baskin-Robbins on the corner. Or the gloating we did over the bagging of Zarqawi, followed immediately by his replacement's brazen reprisal. (When are we going to learn that gloating isn't the wisest of tactics among such intensely touchy people?)

Then there's the evidence that more and more of our over-taxed troops are losing the veneer of civilized behavior--a la Haditha--and becoming precisely that which, supposedly, we go marching into other countries to stop. Or the passing of the 50,000-dead-Iraqis landmark. And in only three years! At that rate, heck ... we'll top Saddam's score in no time.

Yes, I have allowed all that and more to pass without comment, mostly because the damnable war speaks for itself. I have a hunch the only writers who can do justice to a war--any war, not only the damnable ones--are the people who were there, wading through the remains of friends and comrades and collateral damage, accumulating burdens to their consciences that we life-long civilians can't even imagine.

But Republicans, who had been showing signs of jitters in regards to staying their leader's course, have come together like crows to death, rallying around what I call "The Rove Doctrine." Of course, Carl Rove didn't invent the phrase "cut and run," nor is he the first to apply it to the Democrats' search for a way out. Rove's genius--if "genius" is the proper word for a disgusting, flabby maggot who's only accomplishment in life is destroying far better men than he'll ever be--is to coordinate the shortest route into the dimmest of minds. I mean the sort of shambling cracker who would actually swallow the claim, for example, that Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was un-American.

The following information has been circulating since before the war started and it's likely most of you have seen it, anyway. But as the Republicans posture themselves as the John Waynes while trying to define the Democrats as the Woody Allens, I feel we need a refresher on who actually did what in terms of military service. (Incidentally, John Wayne was never in the military. He only pretended to be for the movies.)

First, the cut-and-runners: Ted Kennedy was in the Army. Imagine that, the Right's most abhorred Liberal served two years--which is something Dick Cheney can't say, having successfully chased down several separate draft deferments at the height of our Vietnam involvement.

Of Democratic presidential prospects from either the recent past or the foreseeable future, include Richard Gephardt, Tom Daschle, Bob Kerry, John Kerry, Al Gore and Wesley Clark as among those who wore the uniform. Among Republicans of the same description, include only John McCain. (I don't--can't--with good conscience include GW on the list with McCain, considering he dodged Vietnam in the Texas Air Guard, then dodged the Texas Air Guard.)

Other cut-and-runners who didn't cut and run are Tom Harkin, David Bonior, Chuck Robb, Jim McDermott, Charles Rangel, John Conyers, several dozen others you likely haven't heard of, and that current voodoo doll for the Right, Jack Murtha, whose Marine Corps career stretched all the way from the Korean War to 1990 and earned him a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Now, as to the stay-the-coursers: Rick Santorum stayed the course--far away from military service, that is--as did Hastert, Frist, McConnell, Sensenbrenner, Jon Kyle, Dana Rohrabacher, John Cornyn, several dozen others you likely haven't heard of, and Saxby Chambliss, who dodged the bullet with a student deferment and an alleged bad knee before going on to accuse Max Cleland of not having enough patriotism.

In fact, our stay-the-courser-in-chief is surrounded by men whose closest brush with a uniform is when they strut by those color guard lads on their way to another photo-op: Rove, Wolfowitz, Tony Snow, Doug Feith, Scooter Libby, Andrew Card, Ashcroft ... out of the entire neo-con frat club, not one of them served anything but themselves.

Of Idaho's adamant stay-the-coursers, Butch Otter's the only one who got some military under his belt, sitting out Vietnam comfortably in the arms of the Idaho Air Guard. (Larry Craig also joined the Air Guard, but mysteriously only lasted one year of what is usually a six-year commitment. So I don't count him. One year in the Guard is like Bush's five hours in Bahgdad. Yeah, he was there. But then again, he wasn't. Know what I mean?)

So think about that--why people who actually spent time shooting at others and being shot at in return are now leading the charge to get our people the hell out of there. Think about why, of the 12 Iraq vets currently running for Congress, 10 of them are Democrats. And think about why the ones who stayed home, gloating over their slick ideas, seem perfectly willing to keep your sons and daughters in the desert indefinitely.

Think about it as you hear another no-way warrior mouth their little mantra. "Cut and run" will likely work on the shambling crackers. It's easy to say--not even Bush could mispronounce it--and it implies cowardice, the worst character flaw you can have to those who, in word if not deed, are constantly reminding us what tough customers they are.

But doesn't sending others out to fight and die for their particular brand of geopolitical hooey--particularly when they had every opportunity to join the fray, themselves, but ducked out of it--imply a far more profound cowardice?

Yeah, it does. The lowest of the low trick others into fighting their battles for them. We all knew that, even in grade school. So how can we have forgotten it just because the creeps made it to D.C.?

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