2004-08-20 / Columnists

The Rockaway Irregular

Lies, And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them
by Stuart W. Mirsky

If anyone is wondering why I find the Democratic attacks on Bush’s integrity so disingenuous, perhaps a small example may be helpful. I recently received an e-mail from a concerned individual who had gotten a message via the internet asserting that the Bush administration was “quietly” planning to bring back the draft while the rest of us were paying attention to other things and that the administration intended to reinstitute it soon after the 2004 presidential election. Here’s the relevant portion of the e-mail message: “There is pending legislation in the House and Senate that will time the program’s initiation so the draft can begin as early as Spring 2005 — just after the 2004 election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public’s attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately.”

So, I asked my correspondent, how true is this? I turned to my son, an eminently draftable soon-to-be twenty year old, and a skilled navigator of the world wide web, and asked him to check it out. Jumping right on this, he quickly got back to me with his findings. Turns out both bills were introduced by Democrats and had no administration support at all! The House bill was the contribution of Representative Charles Rangel while the Senate bill was put on the floor by Senate Democrat Fritz Hollings of South Carolina. In fact, the Republican majority in Congress opposed both bills, as did the Bush administration. As a result of this opposition, the two bills have languished for over a year. So what gives?

Says Paris Baker’s Kansas City Independent blog (to which my son directed me): “despite all the abrupt panicked clamor in blogs, from the democratic underground all the way to Warren Ellis and halfway back, there is not going to be a draft.” Baker, a blogger with no particular love for the Bush administration, goes on to note that: “The record shows that S. 89 was introduced on 1/7/2003 and was referred to the Committee on Armed Services the same day. H.R. 163 was also introduced on 1/7/2003 and was referred to the Subcommittee on Total Force on 2/3/2003. There has been absolutely no action on either bill since they were referred to committee.”

According to California Representative Pete Stark, who co-sponsored the House version of the bill, this is about opposition to the Bush administration’s actions in Iraq. Said Stark in a statement to Congress on January 8, 2003: “Reinstituting the draft may seem unnecessary to some. But, it will ensure all Americans share in the cost and sacrifice of war. Without a universal draft, this burden weighs disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor, the disadvantaged and minority populations. . . . Maybe some of you in this Congress would think twice about voting for war in Iraq if you knew your child may be sent to fight in the streets of Baghdad?”

So this is not the Bush administration at work but those who opposed the administration and its policies. But why send the e-mail around now and why suggest, as the text of the message clearly does, that this is a surreptitious attempt on Bush’s part to sneak the draft back into our national life? Blogger Baker asks the same thing and offers his own suspicions: “So why the sudden panic? Hmmmmmm . . . frightening college aged kids into voting for Kerry, perhaps?”

It certainly looks like the posters of the e-mail message referenced above were not being entirely honest with us, doesn’t it? But of course, as they keep telling us, it’s Bush and the Republicans who are the liars not the Democrats and their supporters! Still, it ought to make us all wonder whether those who are so continuously and loudly accusing others of lying have any credibility left at all when they are themselves caught in such boldfaced dissembling. It’s certainly not as difficult to believe that Bush and his administration were misled or misinterpreted intelligence data about Saddam Hussein’s possession of WMD as it is to assume that they were lying about it. On the other hand, the above e-mail, sent to my correspondent by a Kerry supporter, deliberately misstates the facts about the case to suggest a false conclusion. If that ain’t lying, I don’t know what is.

Oh, and by the way, in answer to the reader of these pages who recently demanded my response to his question of whether I’d be willing to send my own son off to war in Iraq if I were called on to do so (and who doubted I’d offer him an answer any time soon), the answer is yes, I would. While no more happy about the prospect than anyone else who loves his children, if my son enlisted and then got deployed to Iraq, I would have to accept that since that is what comes of joining the armed forces. Sometimes you have to actually use the training they give you in real combat and you always have to follow lawful orders concerning when and where.

If the draft were ever re-instituted (as the spurious e-mail referenced above falsely reported it was about to be), I would also have to accept this. My son, who supports the war in Iraq by the way, feels the same way. Still, he has no plans to enlist in the military at this time nor is he required to do so, absent a draft. On the other hand, he is required to be honest with others and himself all the time. That’s how I raised him. Apparently many of today’s Democrats don’t feel bound by the same constraints.

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