A Very Good Reason Republicans Should Run From Bush

Not long ago, Karl Rove suggested that the current GOP candidates could do themselves a world of good by running towards Bush, instead of keeping him at arm’s distance as is presently the case.  While Rove, Cheney, and Bush might have all agreed with this, pretty much the rest of the American Political World collectively scratched their heads.

In fact, to be brutally honest presidential candidates on either side of the aisle could only do themselves good if they chose to run hard and fast away from just about everyone holding elected office in the federal government.  An LA Times/Bloomberg Poll surfaces to remind us not only that Republicans should be taking a cue from Democrats and start running from their party’s leader, but also that Rove forgot to leave his rose colored glasses at the White House when he resigned.

Marking a huge shift in the political demographics of the military and military families, the poll indicates that support from these one time Republican strongholds has shifted away from the President and his party.

As pointed out in the Carpetbagger Report, it’s important to note that this is a trend that has been going on for some time.  This is not, however, Republicans making claims that were never true; the military has been in the past a largely conservative crowd, typically more so in the officer community than among enlisted members and NCO’s.  This all due to decades of posturing on National Security, high military spending, etc.

What’s happening here, though, is that Republicans have exploited their military political capital.  They have sat back complacently under the assumption that they could do with the military whatever they chose, and not have to worry about losing their support, however engaging in five year plus wars that were unjustified in the first place and poorly ran from the beginning seems to have taken a toll.

The other thing that I want to talk about here is the ratio of injured versus killed military personnel coming back from Iraq.  The LA Times piece touches on it, but I think fails to give it the kind of gravity that it deserves in affecting the direction of polling trends.

Compared to the medical technology we were capable of employing in the field in prior wars, medics have a far greater number of life saving tools at their disposal.  What might have resulted in a fatal wound in Vietnam, or World War II, is now treatable.

This is ultimately a great thing.  It’s sad, but one of the best stats of the Iraq War is that we have 29,000 wounded compared to 3,900 killed; better than 7 to 1.  That equates to thousands of young men and women who get to make it home to their families that would have never had that chance in previous wars.

But this blessing comes with some repercussions.  For one, there is the necessity of military medical facilities capable of handling the vast increase of wounded personnel.  This aspect indirectly resulted in the Walter Reed scandal where it was learned that many injured soldiers were receiving disgustingly poor care in abominable conditions.

But there’s another downside; eschewing delicacy and sensitivity in my language, death can be… neater.  Learning that you’ve lost a loved one in a war is devestating; losing a loved one at any time is.  But there is also a finality to death.  We mourn, and it’s damn hard, so hard that we don’t think we can carry on, but somehow most of us do.  Even when we think we won’t be able to recover, the pain eventually ebbs to a dull ache, the sun continues to rise and set, and eventually, you find that you’re breathing again.

This provides, also, closure when it comes to the war at hand.  There is the funeral, there is the knowledge that life was given in service to one’s country, and there are no war stories to convince one otherwise.

With a wounded soldier, though, the story is different.  There is the initial relief, the welcoming news of a new lease on life, but that’s when the work and struggle begins.  For the more devestating injuries, the war does not end, nor the pain, and scars and trips to physical therapy return again and again as reminders of nightmares buried in the desert.

For families caring for a soldier who was severely wounded in battle, the reality of the Iraq war not only hits close to home, but it stays there, grabs onto them, and refuses to let go.  Dreams can still be shattered, lives permanently altered, and unlike with Death where all of this fades to that copable dull pain, the wounds, the disabilities, the tragic war stories, all of it cycles over and over again like a scab you can’t stop picking at only to reopen the wound and let it sting more.

Neither is easy; death or serious wound, and I’m positive for the families of the 3,900 fallen angels, they would much rather have a severely wounded soldier back than what they got.  But the wounded… that’s long term and in your face every day, that’s unavoidable, and I think that might have contributed to so many military families turning away from the party they used to cling to.

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