Two years ago, Gen. Stanley McChrystal lost his job commanding troops in Afghanistan by complaining about being "screwed into" attending a formal Paris dinner described as "gay" by his aide. "I'd rather," the General huffed, "have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this."
Critics of America’s 21st century Middle East wars, like this grandfather, have long complained about the lack of shared sacrifice that allows them to go on with no public uproar, and the point scarcely needs reinforcement out of the mouths of boobs like McChrystal.
Yet arguments pro and con raise broader questions about what politics today are doing to future American generations, as David Brooks reports on research showing “children of the more affluent and less affluent are raised in starkly different ways and have different opportunities. Decades ago, college-graduate parents and high-school-graduate parents invested similarly in their children. Recently, more affluent parents have invested much more in their children’s futures while less affluent parents have not.”
This month, my teen-age grandchildren will be far from home, devoting time and energy to learning how to help people less privileged than they, motivated by parents who have passed on such values.
“Political candidates,” Brooks concludes, “will have to spend less time trying to exploit class divisions and more time trying to remedy them--less time calling their opponents out of touch elitists, and more time coming up with agendas that comprehensively address the problem. It’s politically tough to do that, but the alternative is national suicide.”
It wasn’t always so. In 1968, many of us criss-crossed Indiana urging people to vote for Sen. Eugene McCarthy in the Democratic primary to express their desire to bring other people's sons home from Vietnam.
Our emotions then recalled a 1942 story by Irwin Shaw, "Preach on the Dusty Roads," about a man who, after seeing his son off to fight in World War II, is overwhelmed with remorse that he hadn't been out begging people everywhere to prevent or stop it.
None of us is out preaching on dusty roads now but, if we let venal, lying politicians in Washington decide to what new generations devote their lives, nothing we did back then will erase our shame now.