Friday, April 27, 2007

Key Democrats Shun General Petraeus

Key Democrats Shun General Petraeus
By Jeffry Gardner

Not only is the war lost, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, but two of his more influential colleagues in the debate don't even care to hear the Army's current assessment of the situation.

As if Reid's reckless remarks didn't do enough damage - no doubt lifting the spirits of al-Qaida and leftists from France to Hollywood - House Leader Nancy Pelosi and one of the biggest cheerleaders for bailing out of Iraq, Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, didn't even show up this week when the Army's top dog in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, provided his first report to congressional leaders since the troop increase.

Apparently the president's mind isn't the only one made up about war policy.
Historically, House speakers get to pass on such briefings. And Pelosi said later she'd talked with Petraeus before his briefing with Congress. But this wasn't the quarterly General Accounting Office's review of Social Security.

The war is the Democrats' sledgehammer, breaking all big matters into little ones by comparison, and in a town built on appearance, Pelosi and Murtha's absences deserve notice.



Anonymous Les Ismore said...

And of course, those missing the briefing by the General was none other than Senator John McCain, biggest supporter of the escalation. I wonder what his excuse was?

4:14 AM  
Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Who cares? I wouldn't vote for him, unless the other candidate is Hillery!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


4:22 AM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Whatever McCain would learn, he'd simply have to write it down in his memory book because it would be useless. Murtha and Pelosi can wake up tomorrow and make very relevant decisions regarding the war with whatever they'd learn--if they were there.

You can't fairly make the claim that McCain needs to be there at the meetings in case he were elected president--that's over 2 years away and the situation will surely be quite different by then.

Murtha and Pelosi needed to be thereNOW.

7:50 AM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Les Ismore, I left you a message under the 'Dirty Harry' post down scroll...

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Les Ismore said...

Saw the message. I hope you are right. For all of our children's sake, I sincerely hope and pray that you are right.

1:47 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

Please read this column, Les; I think it will help you understand the place from which we conservatives come from. (Also, this is a GREAT book):

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Les Ismore said...

I couldnt link to that article for some reason...

On your point about McCain, yes, he would be President in 2 years but he is a Senator today. He should have been there. Especially as the biggest backer of Bush and the escalation, he should have shown his support to General Petraeus.

3:00 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...


"Ah Honest Confession By An American Coward"

The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise when I am drifting down the light of placid days, careless about flanks and rearguard actions. I was not looking for a true thing to come upon me in the state of New Jersey. Nothing has ever happened to me in New Jersey. But came it did, and it came to stay.

In the past four years I have been interviewing my teammates on the 1966-67 basketball team at the Citadel for a book I'm writing. For the most part, this has been like buying back a part of my past that I had mislaid or shut out of my life. At first I thought I was writing about being young and frisky and able to run up and down a court all day long, but lately I realized I came to this book because I needed to come to grips with being middle-aged and having ripened into a gray-haired man you could not trust to handle the ball on a fast break.

When I visited my old teammate Al Kroboth's house in New Jersey, I spent the first hours quizzing him about his memories of games and practices and the screams of coaches that had echoed in field houses more than 30 years before. Al had been a splendid forward-center for the Citadel; at 6 feet 5 inches and carrying 220 pounds, he played with indefatigable energy and enthusiasm. For most of his senior year, he led the nation in field-goal percentage, with UCLA center Lew Alcindor hot on his trail. Al was a battler and a brawler and a scrapper from the day he first stepped in as a Green Weenie as a sophomore to the day he graduated. After we talked basketball, we came to a subject I dreaded to bring up with Al, but which lay between us and would not lie still.

"Al, you know I was a draft dodger and antiwar demonstrator."

"That's what I heard, Conroy," Al said. "I have nothing against what you did, but I did what I thought was right."

"Tell me about Vietnam, big Al. Tell me what happened to you," I said.

On his seventh mission as a navigator in an A-6 for Major Leonard Robertson, Al was getting ready to deliver their payload when the fighter-bomber was hit by enemy fire. Though Al has no memory of it, he punched out somewhere in the middle of the ill-fated dive and lost consciousness. He doesn't know if he was unconscious for six hours or six days, nor does he know what happened to Major Robertson (whose name is engraved on the Wall in Washington and on the MIA bracelet Al wears).

When Al awoke, he couldn't move. A Viet Cong soldier held an AK-47 to his head. His back and his neck were broken, and he had shattered his left scapula in the fall. When he was well enough to get to his feet (he still can't recall how much time had passed), two armed Viet Cong led Al from the jungles of South Vietnam to a prison in Hanoi. The journey took three months. Al Kroboth walked barefooted through the most impassable terrain in Vietnam, and he did it sometimes in the dead of night. He bathed when it rained, and he slept in bomb craters with his two Viet Cong captors. As they moved farther north, infections began to erupt on his body, and his legs were covered with leeches picked up while crossing the rice paddies.

At the very time of Al's walk, I had a small role in organizing the only antiwar demonstration ever held in Beaufort, South Carolina, the home of Parris Island and the Marine Corps Air Station. In a Marine Corps town at that time, it was difficult to come up with a quorum of people who had even minor disagreements about the Vietnam War. But my small group managed to attract a crowd of about 150 to Beaufort's waterfront. With my mother and my wife on either side of me, we listened to the featured speaker, Dr. Howard Levy, suggest to the very few young enlisted Marines present that if they get sent to Vietnam, here's how they can help end this war: Roll a grenade under your officer's bunk when he's asleep in his tent. It's called fragging and is becoming more and more popular with the ground troops who know this war is bullshit. I was enraged by the suggestion. At that very moment my father, a Marine officer, was asleep in Vietnam. But in 1972, at the age of 27, I thought I was serving America's interests by pointing out what massive flaws and miscalculations and corruptions had led her to conduct a ground war in Southeast Asia.

In the meantime, Al and his captors had finally arrived in the North, and the Viet Cong traded him to North Vietnamese soldiers for the final leg of the trip to Hanoi. Many times when they stopped to rest for the night, the local villagers tried to kill him. His captors wired his hands behind his back at night, so he trained himself to sleep in the center of huts when the villagers began sticking knives and bayonets into the thin walls.

Following the U.S. air raids, old women would come into the huts to excrete on him and yank out hunks of his hair. After the nightmare journey of his walk north, Al was relieved when his guards finally delivered him to the POW camp in Hanoi and the cell door locked behind him.

It was at the camp that Al began to die. He threw up every meal he ate and before long was misidentified as the oldest American soldier in the prison because his appearance was so gaunt and skeletal. But the extraordinary camaraderie among fellow prisoners that sprang up in all the POW camps caught fire in Al, and did so in time to save his life.

When I was demonstrating in America against Nixon and the Christmas bombings in Hanoi, Al and his fellow prisoners were holding hands under the full fury of those bombings, singing "God Bless America." It was those bombs that convinced Hanoi they would do well to release the American POWs, including my college teammate. When he told me about the C-141 landing in Hanoi to pick up the prisoners, Al said he felt no emotion, none at all, until he saw the giant American flag painted on the plane's tail. I stopped writing as Al wept over the memory of that flag on that plane, on that morning, during that time in the life of America.

It was that same long night, after listening to Al's story, that I began to make judgments about how I had conducted myself during the Vietnam War.

In the darkness of the sleeping Kroboth household, lying in the third-floor guest bedroom, I began to assess my role as a citizen in the '60s, when my country called my name and I shot her the bird. Unlike the stupid boys who wrapped themselves in Viet Cong flags and burned the American one, I knew how to demonstrate against the war without flirting with treason or astonishingly bad taste. I had come directly from the warrior culture of this country and I knew how to act.

But in the 25 years that have passed since South Vietnam fell, I have immersed myself in the study of totalitarianism during the unspeakable century we just left behind. I have questioned survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, talked to Italians who told me tales of the Nazi occupation, French partisans who had counted German tanks in the forests of Normandy, and officers who survived the Bataan Death March. I quiz journalists returning from wars in Bosnia, the Sudan, the Congo, Angola, Indonesia, Guatemala, San Salvador, Chile, Northern Ireland, Algeria.

As I lay sleepless, I realized I'd done all this research to better understand my country. I now revere words like democracy, freedom, the right to vote, and the grandeur of the extraordinary vision of the founding fathers. Do I see America's flaws? Of course. But I now can honor her basic, incorruptible virtues, the ones that let me walk the streets screaming my ass off that my country had no idea what it was doing in South Vietnam. My country let me scream to my heart's content - the same country that produced both Al Kroboth and me.

Now, at this moment in New Jersey, I come to a conclusion about my actions as a young man when Vietnam was a dirty word to me. I wish I'd led a platoon of Marines in Vietnam. I would like to think I would have trained my troops well and that the Viet Cong would have had their hands full if they entered a firefight with us. From the day of my birth, I was programmed to enter the Marine Corps. I was the son of a Marine fighter pilot, and I had grown up on Marine bases where I had watched the men of the corps perform simulated war games in the forests of my childhood. That a novelist and poet bloomed darkly in the house of Santini strikes me as a remarkable irony. My mother and father had raised me to be an Al Kroboth, and during the Vietnam era they watched in horror as I metamorphosed into another breed of fanatic entirely. I understand now that I should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done my duty for my country. I have come to a conclusion about my country that I knew then in my bones but lacked the courage to act on: America is good enough to die for even when she is wrong.

I looked for some conclusion, a summation of this trip to my teammate's house. I wanted to come to the single right thing, a true thing that I may not like but that I could live with. After hearing Al Kroboth's story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, "There. That's the guy. That's the one who got it right. The whole package. The one I can depend on."

It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the position I did on that night in Al Kroboth's house in Roselle, New Jersey: an American coward spending the night with an American hero.

5:39 PM  
Blogger VerityINK said...

P.S. If McCain should've been there, than so should Murtha and Pelosi. Be fair, Les. I haven't you say THEY should've been there.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Russet Shadows said...

McCain isn't in a direct position of leadership. I really fail to see how his attendance is a requirement. Would it be nice if he was there? Sure. But if there's anything I've learned about McCain, it's that he really isn't dependable.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Les Ismore said...

They all should have been there, McCain as lead advocate for the policy, Pelosi as Speaker and Murtha as a war hero and advocate for the military.

4:05 AM  
Anonymous z said...

It's the Dems who SHOULD have been there, not McCain, who already knows we should stay. For reid to say he wouldn't listen is absolutely unbelieavable..well, if it weren't harry reid, that is. Those who STILL don't get it suddenly REFUSE input from an expert on the side they don't like? this is America? It's an attitude ALMOST as stupid as INCONVENIENT TRUTH's lies.

I guess reid's too busy calling Cheney an "attack dog" and complaining abuot the divisiveness in Washington these days.

BY the way, from the other thread, thanks for your service in Vietnam. I didn't know and I thank you for that.

7:10 PM  
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