Driving into work this morning I heard Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions saying that he owned an AR-15 automatic rifle, the same gun which the teenage shooter used at Newtown, and Sessions said he liked the gun because it looks so intimidating, and he can imagine, what with all the bad weather and floods and hurricanes (not caused by global warming,) that the lights in his town might just go out some night and he will need an intimidating weapon to protect himself and his home, and a two barrel shot gun does not have enough fire power for him to feel safe.
Mr. Sessions, whose middle name evokes a fearsome Confederate general, has a website which shows him standing in front of a battleship. He is a man who likes big guns. He is from Selma, Alabama, where the guns are big and the brains run small.
But, funny thing, when you look at the background of the loudmouth Right Wingers, like Rush Limbaugh, Jon Kyl, John Cornyn, John Ensign, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, not a one of these tough guys ever served. None of them ever jumped out of an airplane with a parachute and a gun, into hostile fire. None ever had a shot fired at them in anger. None of them had to dig into a foxhole while artillery rained down upon their positions. None had to wade through a swamp carrying his gun above his head while leeches fed on their legs.
You will quickly object: Senator sessions "served" in the Army Reserves during Vietnam. But as anyone who lived through that era will know immediately, the Army Reserves did not send soldiers to Vietnam. That and the National Guard were the safe hiding places for men trying to avoid the airplane ride to Vietnam. Only the well connected could get into those safe havens. So Sessions did not serve; in a sense, he did worse, like George W. Bush, he only pretended to serve.
It does not take Sigmund Freud to analyze the personality of the man who wants to boast of his own dangerousness and potency, who has a history of avoiding danger.
Not that Vietnam was simply a test of bravery. The bravest men during that war were the men who stood up and refused to serve, who went to prison, or to Canada. But plenty of brave men were pressured into going to Vietnam. That was a bad war, and as Thoreau famously said, the only place for a really just man under those circumstances was in jail. Ultimately, resistance to the war played a role in forcing Lyndon Johnson's resignation (decision not to stand for re election) and that, along with the Viet Cong's winning strategy and military effectiveness, finally brought the American public to its senses and the realization the war was unwinnable. So Nixon declared we have won an honorable victory, and got out.
Mad Dog's own brother finished his surgical internship and found himself on a boat to Vietnam, first as ship's doctor, and later going up river on a swift boat, where he ducked a rocket or two fired from the shoreline, tromped up a hill, visited a village in the program to bring Western medicine to the villagers, to win the hearts and minds of villagers, who spoke no English. The villagers prepared a meal for the visiting doctor. A translator listened to the symptoms of the villagers who wanted to see the doctor, and translated: "Same thing, doc." Mad Dog's brother wore a sidearm then, but he does not own a gun now. He doesn't need an AR-15 to know about his own courage, or to proclaim it to others. The only way you'd ever know he ever was in Vietnam would be to see the pictures he took of the villagers, which hang on the wall of his home study. And there is not a gun to be seen in those pictures, just faces, suffering and humanity.
George McGovern, who tried to end that war, had won a silver star in WWII. Never saw McGovern brandishing a weapon.
Somehow, the guys who have the big thing, don't need to wave it around.
Which makes you wonder about the guys who seem to need to display the big stick.
Since posting this blog, Mad Dog has read Gail Collins in today's New York Times and is informed it was not Mr. Sessions, but his South Carolina twin, Lindsey Graham, the other Senator from South Carolina Mad Dog had heard on the radio. (These South Carolina politicians--Graham, Sessions, Francis Underwood--who can keep them straight? They all look alike. They all sound alike. I'm a white man and I still can't distinguish among them.)
Actually, in some ways, it makes the story better. At first, Mad Dog was distressed because the story was about a man who had hidden in the reserves, and seeing the photo on line
Mr. Graham looked like the real article. Look at those camo fatigues. And his biography says he served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, having been in the Air Force in the mid 1980's.
But, turns out, although Mr. Graham claimed such service, he never got out of South Carolina. He later replied, "I never said I was a combatant."
Do da word "poser" mean anything to you, Mr. Graham?