Beyond the fight between Barack and Hillary, beyond Rev. Wright, Bosnia fantasies, or issues of race and gender; the biggest impediment to the election of a Democrat in November, is the MSM’s persistent conflating of issues of defense and security; military and civilian leadership.One recent case in point: Margaret Carlson, appearing on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, made this unsolicited pronouncement about McCain, in discussing Hillary’s Bosnia-gaffe:
“But she‘s so intent now because of having to distinguish herself not just only from Obama but in some ways from Senator McCain who truly does seem much more qualified to be commander in chief.”
Based on what, exactly? Do we automatically assume that those who served in the military are the best civilian leaders? As Randi Rhodes recently pointed out, the job of a good soldier is to follow orders. Sure, a considerable amount of bravery may be involved, and McCain himself survived a horrific five-year ordeal at the Hanoi Hilton. But the decision to commit troops involves the integration of wide range of factors, that go beyond military tactics and strategy.A similar assumption was made by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week - so unquestioned, in fact, that it was phrased as an afterthought to a question, to Joe Lieberman:
“Can you name one other big issue aside from the war in Iraq, national security, where John McCain is closer to your view than the Democratic candidates?”
There it is: eight years of brain-washing has sunk in: the Iraq War equals national security. So blind to this equation of all things military with security, that the evidence to the contrary is ignored.In fact, there’s evidence that the “war” has actually increased terrorism risk, by becoming a highly successful recruitment tool for creating new terrorists. As The Washington Post reported in 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate found that:
“rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position.”
The obsession with military solutions has also skewed budget priorities. In 2004, Mother Jones reported that homeland security - a key component of national security - has suffered as a result of the focus on Iraq, leading to the Nickel and Diming of Homeland Security. As Matthew Brzezinski explains:
“Hamstrung by special interests, staffed with B-team political appointees, and crippled by a lack of funding and political support, DHS is a premier example of how the administration's misplaced priorities—and its obsession with Iraq—have come at the direct expense of homeland security.”National Security expert Steven Flynn wrote, also in 2004, of the neglected home front, and the folly of separating homeland security from national security:
“The transportation, energy, information, financial, chemical, food, and logistical networks that underpin U.S. economic power and the American way of life offer the United States' enemies a rich menu of irresistible targets. And most of these remain virtually unprotected.”More recently, Flynn warned of five disasters that could occur if the U.S. doesn’t rebuild its infrastructure - increasing our vulnerability to terrorism.
The equating of war-making with security, and military experience with wise leadership, has already had dismal consequences. In Election ‘08, it’s also causing the media to give John McCain a huge pass on national security. Let’s demand that the media recover from this shorthand, in order to elevate the debate.