I can’t remember which network I watched the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, but one of the post-speech commentators was Hugh Hewitt, a winger talk radio host whom I had never heard of until he participated as a questioner in one of the earlier Republican debates this cycle. Hewitt began his commentary by saying that the speech seemed very off to him because, well, first and foremost, Obama had been silent about the 10 sailors being held by Iran on their boats in the Persian Gulf since that morning. Hewitt was shocked. And angry.
Which caused me to wonder whether it had occurred to him that, y’know, intense diplomatic discussion for the prompt release of the sailors might be underway. Or whether it had occurred to him but that he thought the sailors’ quick release wasn’t as important as public, verbal belligerence toward an unfriendly country.
Not sure about that; I haven’t followed Hewitt’s post-release-of-the-sailors-the-next-morning comments on the matter. And anyway, Hewitt isn’t running for president. Or for anything, to my knowledge, other than a radio-ratings sweepstake victory.
Ted Cruz, of course, is running for president. I watched the debate last night for about a half-minute. Literally; about 30 seconds. That was the half-minute or so after one of the hosts asked Cruz his first question, something about the economy, and Cruz was beginning his answer by saying that he would answer the question about the economy in a moment, but first wanted to express his outrage that Obama had not mentioned the sailors Iran was holding in Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf right during the very hour when Obama was addressing the country on the state of the union. This was nearly 48 hours after the sailors had been released after being held on their own ships for about 24 hours.
I read recently that Cruz has expressed regret that he did not serve in the military. But the fact is that he did not serve in the military. If he wins his party’s nomination and begins campaigning at VFW halls and events, Clinton or Sanders, the Dem nominee, should mention when campaigning at veterans events and meeting halls that Cruz thinks that the wellbeing of military personnel is trivial as compared with political opportunism. As president, Cruz would rather score political points with tough-on-Communism-er-Mullahism bellicosity than secure the quick release of military personnel held then-only- briefly by an unfriendly nation whose territorial waters or land the military personnel had accidentally breached.
And that he’s now made clear that if an unfriendly country’s Naval vessel strays into U.S. territorial waters, he as president would shrug and politely allow them to go on their way.
In a race in which the top two Republican contenders are so very casual about the wellbeing of deployed members of the military—when Trump called John McCain a loser because he had been captured by the enemy in Vietnam when his plane was shot down, he insulted not only McCain but also (just as examples, from WWII) soldiers captured in the Philippines who died during the Bataan Death March and those who survived it, the paratroopers killed or taken prisoner after being dropped behind enemy lines in preparation for the D-Day invasion or the invasion of Leyte Island or Luzon Island or earlier at Guadalcanal, the Marines who died on Iwo Jima, those killed or captured during the Battle of the Bulge, the bomber and torpedo pilots killed or captured after taking off from one of the four aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway, the many killed when their submarine or ship was torpedoed in the Pacific, those killed or captured as they stormed the beaches at Normandy, those killed in North Africa under Patton’s command, and so many, many more—this is a party whose base apparently does not actually care very much after all about the welfare of deployed military personnel.
The base’s standard bearers, in any event, have other priorities: their own political ambition. Deployed members of the military, current or former, are just like everyone and everything else. They’re fair game as collateral damage in the service of others’ political career advancement.
In the space of about 30 seconds last night, I’d seen more than enough.
*Title edited for clarity. (Minor editing elsewhere, as well.) 1/15 at 7:53 p.m.