War Drumbs
wilkyjr printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Dec 15, 2015 at 09:26:14 AM EST
At Donald Trump's December 14 political speech in Los Vegas, he ended his message by bashing recently acquitted Sergeant Berdcahl as a traitor deserving of the death penalty.  This was the punch line to the final epic point of the evening as Trump laid out his Trump card to the audience.  The bashing of Berdcahl reminded me of familiar messages from these crowds regarding American patriotism.
     Trump delivered his message to a packed house.  He spoke of his rising from the basement to now being the leading contender to defeat the woman he once was friends with.  He lamented that countries take advantage of us and the media is dishonest and terrible.  He promised to take the country back.  His military theme is a common ingredient in the monologue.  More than once he has promised to bomb the %*#$ out of the enemy.  Other contenders are not tough enough to be commander in chief he states.  He knows how to negotiate and evidently march to war.
     A New York Times writer did research on Trump after his criticism of Senator McCain, who Trump called a loser.  Trump stated because McCain was shot down in his jet over Viet Nam and served as a prison of war, he was not a winner.  Later on Trump tended to revise his criticism of the prisoner of war. The research by the writer stated that while McCain was suffering incarceration in Southeast Asia, Donald was club hopping in down town New York equipped with a draft deferment, wealth from his father, and personal privileges few enjoyed.  In his bio Trump wrote that he was so good looking one of the club owners made him promise not to take away anyone's wife if he joined.
     Trump's harsh opinion on war veteran Berdcahl is a reminder of similar episodes in the rich history of the Religious Right and military service.  Religious Right church services are often connected to military themes and holy war rhetoric that connects divine right and the nation's wars.  Rick Scarborough held rallies for the war in Viet Nam, yet never served in the military.  My bus ride to D.C. with a group of David Barton and David Stockman fans serves as an example.  One of the Christian movies we were shown on the trip was the old movie about Sergeant York.  Vision Forum, a homeschool resource house, advertises in its catalogue a long list of military toys and books to be sold to children.  War is glorified and young boys are encouraged to learn to "defend their sisters."  The last Restore America rally I attended stated the divine nature given to boys was warfare.
     The criticism of the sergeant reminded me of other stories regarding these groups of war hawks.  Berdcahl was acquitted and served as a leader on several dangerous missions.  Regardless of your views about his desertion, he did place his own life in harm's way serving his country.  It conjures up memories of Georgia Senator Max Cleland.  Max was a double amputee who lost his limbs in the jungles of Viet Nam.  His lost his last election to Saxby Chambliss.  Saxby never served in the military but defeated Chambliss claiming that Cleland was soft on national security.   The Washington Post noted he was defaming the manhood and patriotism of Max in his campaign.  One hallmark of the campaign was Saxby's political ad with a picture of Cleland and Osama bin Laden together.
     The episode reminds me of other Religious Right darlings.  Dan Quayle, was a huge war hawk, yet it was proven his own Senator father pulled strings to get Dan into a Reserve Unit so he could escape Viet Nam.  Dan Rather lost his job seeking to prove that George W. Bush had the exact same experience.  Less we forget, it was not long ago that Pat Robertson was shocking the world by leading the GOP as the Presidential hopeful.  Many historians claim what ended his bid was the revelation that his own father pulled strings to keep Pat out of Korean combat while serving on a ship at the time.  This came out just before Pat was to run in Virginia, his own home state.  The state is full of military personnel and after this revelation, Pat finished way down the list in the election.  Pat sued his one- time friend for sharing the letter, but later on dropped the suit.
       Earlier on this site I wrote an article about preachers and war.  It was first published by the Waco Tribune.  It lists the long history of preachers and their promotion and denouncing of war.  (Few denounced it.) North Carolina history reveals the story of how a group of wealthy land owners pushed the state into the Civil War siding with the South.  These same men set up laws that allowed their sons to purchase bonds that made them exempt from service in the Confederacy. These stories remind me of what journalist Frosty Troy used to say about these types.  He called them chicken hawks.

I certainly hope that the repeated misspelling of Sgt. Bergdahl's name is not a deliberate, though subtle way of mocking him by twisting his name into what would be pronounced "Bird-call." Given the garbled statement in paragraph five that "Saxby ... defeated Chambliss" (Saxby IS Chambliss), and the perplexing addition of a "b" to Drums in the title, I suspect that what is really needed is better proofreading.

by MLouise on Wed Dec 16, 2015 at 11:07:47 PM EST

Right, ML, I got sergeant's name off inter net.  Not sure of spelling.

by wilkyjr on Thu Dec 17, 2015 at 10:42:51 PM EST

Bergdahl has not been acquitted. He hasn't even been tried yet.

by kithope on Sun Dec 20, 2015 at 04:33:02 PM EST

Bergdahl is awaiting court martial, and I hope that Trump can refrain from making editorial comments on his case until it is concluded. Somehow, I doubt Trump will restrain himself. Trump is indeed a chicken hawk, and he got a number of deferments during the Vietnam era. The closest he ever got to the military was to go to military school.

by khughes1963 on Tue Dec 22, 2015 at 02:01:23 PM EST

Trump makes such a big deal of Sgt. Bergdahl. On another issue, Trump admits that the U.S. does a lot of killing of civilians. The number of U.S. soldiers who commit suicide is appalling. One reason for this, I'm sure, is that they either consciously or subconsciously do not believe on the wars they are fighting - their morale is extremely low, they've seen and maybe participated in many unjust, heinous activities. Their conscience is eating at them to a point that they prefer to just end it all. I think it does not speak well of Trump as a person that he is self-righteously making such an issue of Sgt. Bergdahl - he exalts his own judgment as though he himself is judge, jury and executioner. I'm so disgusted with Obama's ineptness in piling mountains of new debt on our backs and like many things Trump says, but I also abhor that Trump is a torture advocate!

by johnnyshiloh on Sat Jan 09, 2016 at 02:20:41 PM EST

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