Sunday May 13, 2012

RICHMOND

Millions of men and women in this country are possessors of a document that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would like more than anything else in the world to be part of their résumés -- an honorable discharge from a military service. Veterans get preference. It matters not whether you were in harm's way or behind a desk for the duration, no matter what that might have been. If you are a veteran, you get preference in job listings and in public appreciation.

George Bush is probably undergoing frustration right now that he didn't have the opportunity to order "Take him out" when the military set up their plan to neutralize Osama bin Laden. However, he ducked his responsibilities when he served in the Texas Air National Guard and no matter how many times he could have stood on the deck of the aircraft Abraham Lin coln in May of 2003 dressed in that bizarre pilot suit with that big banner waving in the breeze saying "Mission Ac com plished," it would still be a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. Cheney, that great warlock, had something like five deferments during the Vietnam War.

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Obama started the wrestling match with an election ad asking what Romney would have done about bin Laden. Romney found he had no credible point to stand on and finally tried to get through it by saying Obama did the right thing, but that's over and let's get on with where are the jobs.


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So the battle began by Obama recognizing Romney as his apparent opponent, providing God doesn't decide to answer one of Rick Santorum's fervent prayers. Both candidates have what I consider frightening amounts of money to obliterate an opponent, some of which will be used wisely and some not.

The problem for Republi cans is that they have established themselves as the protectors of our nation, considering the military hierarchy as the ultimate in knowing what they are doing and the De fense Department as the worthy receptacle of all our wherewithal. One of their favorite expressions is "Let the general on the ground tell us what is needed and what to do." We must admit that we have such a large body of generals that some of them have to be dodos. Such exemplars as George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eis en hower must be acknowledged, but they are rare examples in the whole list of presidents.

The Republicans have all along described Obama as a wimp and his ordering of the bin Laden takeout has put a crimp in their plan to retake the White House and maybe the Senate. One of my former heroes, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has been assigned the task of pooh-poohing the whole controversy and make the disappearing of bin Laden a small event. The Democrats, on the other hand, want to keep it alive during the whole campaign.

Unfortunately for Mitt Rom ney, he made a few disparaging remarks about Obama's military background and his inability to form a foreign policy a few years ago, and he was stuck with those words while Obama was flying to Afghanistan to sign a new deal with President Hamid Karzai and imply our troops may be leaving sooner than planned.

Polls show that the American public has had enough war now and in the near future and it would be dumb of us to elect a bunch of people one of whose goals is to show how tough they (and as a fallout we) are. Up to now the Republicans have had the luxury of being known as the party that can best defend our country from foreign invaders, domestic terrorists and tick bites. But Obama has acquired the title of "warrior in chief" from both his adherents and detractors and he may be inclined to emphasize that a time or two.

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The presidential political campaign is in its first phase and we do not have any exact ideas about which directions it will take. If the economy doesn't improve that much, the Republicans will be able to beat that to death with no other political points needed. If the economy does continue picking up, Obama can attach that to his wartime attributes and be golden.

Just one word of warning. Don't go after Obama in a way to annoy him. He's got all those drones in his arsenal and has shown that he's quick on the trigger.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle
contributor.