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Self-righteous warmongers phony patriots

By Greg James
Guest Columnist

10/2307 "
Seattle Post-Intelligencer" -- - You have to wonder if the whole conservative movement in the U.S. is living in a weird alternate reality in which the only thing that matters is what you say, and facts, consistency and honor mean nothing.

The recent remarks by Rush Limbaugh in which he called military men who opposed the Iraq war "phony soldiers" is another example of the strange world in which he (and a lot of neocons) exist. The reason: Limbaugh could be the poster boy of a group of war cheerleaders (including Dick Cheney, Mike Medved, Sean Hannity, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Mike Savage, et al.) who chose to avoid military service when it was their turn. Now that the coast is clear, they've all morphed into self-righteous war boosters sitting in comfortable offices lecturing the rest of us about patriotism and duty.

Picture Osama bin Laden acting that way, relaxing in a La-Z-Boy recliner and urging his followers to do what he never did. He'd be ridiculed. And, while there is nothing to admire in bin Laden's murderous ideology, at least he actually put his money where his mouth is and fought for his cause.

Limbaugh and the far right cheerleader squad talked us into a war that likely would end overnight if they (or most of our politicians) actually had to endure any sacrifice themselves.

I guess the majority of the neocons who have been vocally supportive of the war, and so quick to insult and denigrate those opposed to it, suffer from a case of self-loathing brought on by doing nothing.

Locally, Mike Medved, our own homegrown war booster, was fond of calling decorated Gen. Wesley Clark "Weasely Clark" when he was running for president in 2004. I remember feeling angry that a Vietnam War avoider would have the gall to insult a war hero simply because he was against the Iraq war and predicted disaster. (Incidentally, Clark was obviously right.)

Limbaugh, though, may well represent the ultimate example of the far right's "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. Can a three-times-divorced, draft-dodging, Viagra-chomping guy with a drug problem really be the far right's standard-bearer?

When I served in the Navy, the code was simple: Everyone pulled their own weight, and the ship functioned because of mutual sacrifice and hard work. When it came time to play, we played hard. When we were at sea, we worked hard. The military taught me about teamwork and action, not talk.

The neocons who got us into Iraq on a huge pile of macho slogans, distortions and bravado, having skipped out on any sacrifice themselves, are not patriots. Just as the Nazi propaganda machine ended up ultimately ruining Germany, our big talkers may well represent a danger to this country every bit as real as al-Qaida. Their ability to fool people into believing what is demonstrably false and almost certainly not in our national self-interest, while hiding behind a false flag of patriotism, is proving disastrous every day.

If we choose to measure results and not talk, Limbaugh and his ilk clearly have made us less safe, aided radical Islam and bin Laden, helped keep a hopelessly inept president and Cabinet in power, and generally worked against our long-term interest. They are phony patriots.

Greg James is from Mercer Island.

1996-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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