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“Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter,” said Democratic Senator Zell Miller at last week’s Republican National Convention. “Which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the backbone to best protect my family? The clear answer to that question has placed me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party. There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future, and that man’s name is George W. Bush.”
Now, let me tell you something: I actually sort of agree with the senator.
Truth be told, I thought the Republican National Convention was pretty entertaining. At least as far as conventions go, and especially in comparison to its Democratic counterpart, this year’s GOP get-together was really very watchable. Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger were engaging, if nothing else. The Bush twins were… interesting. And as for the man of the hour, George W. Bush, I wouldn’t be surprised if he won reelection on the strength of his nomination acceptance speech. So overall, I found myself strangely enjoying this convention. But nevertheless, I agree with Senator Miller on at least one thing: Republicans and Democrats ought to drop the “two”-party sham and come “together.” A single, streamlined convention would save taxpayers a fortune.
On the issue of war, however, Senator Miller and I part ways. He thinks we should spend untold billions beefing up our military and conquering foreign countries. And I think he is insane.
Case in point: After speaking before the GOP faithful last Wednesday, Senator Miller went on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” where he became so angry with Chris Matthews’ questions—and pardon-the-interruption style of questioning—that he finally blurted out, all frothy and doglike, “You know, I wish we… I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.” He then proceeded to talk about getting in Matthews’ face. It was eerily reminiscent of Mike Tyson saying he wanted to eat Lennox Lewis’s children. I mean, for a moment there, Zell Miller was threatening to do more damage than Hurricane Frances. If he were any angrier, a row of feathers would’ve popped out of his hind side, to rival that of the little peacock logo in the corner of my TV screen.
Zell Miller was pissed off that evening. He meant business. And he wasn’t afraid to show it.
But that’s just the thing—that’s why I say he’s insane.
People applaud him for crossing party lines, for leading with his convictions instead of his partisan ties. He says what he means and means what he says, and that’s just great. But do we really want—or need—men as angry as Miller informing our war policy? There’s such a thing as defending one’s family and country. But there’s also such a thing as beating up anybody who’s different or disagrees with you. And based on the way he was ranting and raving on “Hardball,” my guess is it’s the latter now driving Miller’s worldview.
What kind of fruit loop dares an anchor to duel with him anyway? Why stop there? Why not go punch-for-punch with Chris Matthews? Or race him? Or see who can walk the farthest holding the Husafelt stone?
But forget about that for a moment. I don’t want to read into this too deeply. All right, sure, Senator Miller challenged Chris Matthews to a duel, but you know what? Get some people drunk enough and they’ll challenge a chair to a duel, too. So let’s give him the benefit of the doubt here. Let’s say he was caught up in the heat of the moment. Okay. Fine. It’s over and done with. But beyond that, the man’s still out of his mind. Why? Because he suffers from the same mental disorder afflicting most every politician in America: A voice in his brain that keeps telling him, daily, “You know what’s best for everyone else.”
In his speech last week, Miller complained that the Democrats are “motivated more by partisan politics than by national security”—a point which is probably true. But because of this, he says, “today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.” “And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.”
Yet American troops are occupiers, even if occupation is only—officially—part of the “liberation” process. It takes a total whackjob to deny this. After all, it was just this April when President Bush said of Iraqis, “They’re not happy they’re occupied. I wouldn’t be happy if I were occupied, either.” (A tip of the hat to Jon Stewart for pointing this out.)
The Zellster sees it differently, though. I don’t know him; I don’t know if he thinks might makes right. But if I were a betting man, I would bet Bush’s own use of the word “occupied” doesn’t make a lick of difference to him. He steadfastly believes in our country’s good intentions. He says, “God is not indifferent to America.” And he doesn’t care if a couple of foreigners see us as occupiers, because he thinks we’ll do the right thing if only they step aside and let us.
In other words: Resistance is futile. We’re America. We know what’s best.
“Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations,” Miller told the convention last week.
How about this: How about we stop using military force for anything other than beating back actual invasions? Defending ourselves is one thing; making the world “safe for democracy” is another. It doesn’t matter if we mean to be occupiers. If American troops are all over the world, folks will inevitably see us that way. This only makes our families less secure. It spins the same wheel which brought about 9/11 in the first place.
But, of course, you’ll never hear this in a major party’s platform. Because that would be truly insane.