From the Washington Post Online...
"I think we are entering a very dangerous time WRT to American civil-military relations. Since the onset of OIF, I have observed a very seductive narrative unfolding (spurred by DoD) that our military should now be revered as "professional warriors" as opposed to servicemembers answerable to the American people. As I've said before, this message is toxic but there have been surprisingly few commentators willing to stand up and be counted questioning it. These "issues" range from the term "wounded warrior" to replace the now disfavored term "disabled veteran" to the use of "warrior dress" to set our military apart in airports, hotels and campuses nationwide. Funny thing: these ideas/terms were ginned up by the same Tori Clarke/Larry Di Rita/Allison Barber OSD Public Affairs team that gave us the recently exposed "military analyst" crisis. Why does no one examine this?
Where am I going with this? This "don't question the military" is now bleeding over into electoral politics. In Eastern Long Island (NY-01), an Iraq war veteran running for Congress named Lee Zeldin is trying to intimidate the incumbent Tim Bishop by asserting that as a "non veteran" he has forfeited his right to question either the "thoughts or actions" of a veteran. Don't believe me? Here's a link to a recent letter from Zeldin to this effect that appeared in a Long Island newspaper:
This guy is endorsed by the "Vets for Freedom" group. He really wants Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" to come to America. Scary. I'm most troubled by Zeldin's belief that the only service to protect/defend our Constitution comes from serving in the military. Last I checked, Attorneys, judges and yes, non-veteran Congressmen take a virtually identical oath.
Posted by: IRR Soldier ... | April 22, 2008 1:39 PM
For the sake of context, here's the letter written by Rep. Tim Bishop that prompted Zeldin's unhinged response where he asserted that Bishop "used his [Zeldin's] service against me."
The Times of Smithtown
To the Editor,
In response to the letter you received on March 27 ("Congress is taxing America to death"), I strongly disagree with my potential opponent that the congressional budget is an "irresponsible proposal" and "the largest tax increase in American history."
As a veteran, he should know that veterans and military retirees overwhelmingly support the budget resolution passed by the U.S. House. Does he really wish to oppose veterans' advocacy organizations such as AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Veterans of Foreign Wars - which are just a sample of the veterans' groups that endorsed the budget?
The American Legion stated it is the "first budget in decades worthy of the sacrifice asked of America 's veterans and their families." And the VFW characterized the budget as "an unparalleled commitment to veterans' service."
Nonpartisan "watchdog" groups agree the budget does not raise taxes. The Brookings Institution recognized that AMT relief without increasing the deficit is our priority. The Committee for a Responsible Budget said that "the budget resolution does not raise taxes."
Not since before the Republican majority did so many endorsements and such a broad coalition demonstrate its support for the congressional budget. His letter also ignores that it balances the budget by 2012 and commits more to middle-class priorities, including more health care, education and infrastructure funds than requested by President Bush.
Long Island will also benefit from AMT relief and funding for innovation in the House-passed budget. Masking the truth under the cover of exaggerated rhetoric as my potential opponent would have you believe is simply irresponsible. Therefore, I hope he recognizes the value of honest, fact-based discussions of issues that affect all of us, rather than inaccurate assertions designed to mislead.
Member of Congress"