I haven't always been a happy supporter of Jim Webb even though I did vote for him six years ago when he ran against my former law school roommate, George "Macaca" Allen. A case in point is when Webb was waffling on DADT repeal and I was contacted by his communications director after slamming Webb in a blog post. Webb went a long way to wipe out any displeasure I might have had with him when he eviscerated - or perhaps castrates is a better term - Mitt Romney while speaking at Barack Obama's campaign stop in Virginia Beach today. The thrust of Webb's remarks: castigating Romney for lobbying in support of the Vietnam War and then using a special exemption from service for Mormon missionaries and spending critical war years in Europe. I understand where Webb is coming from. I'm 60 years old and only missed the draft because I had a high lottery number (269 as I recall). Unlike Romney, I never sought an exemption. And I never agitated in support of the Vietnam fiasco. And, yes, I lost childhood friends in that fool's errand that is similar in so many ways to the ongoing disaster in the Middle East. Politico has details on Webb's statements. Here are highlights:
Webb’s bladework today on Mitt Romney was as unexpected as it was memorable. From Webb’s introductory remarks before Obama’s Virginia Beach appearance:
Governor Romney and I are about the same age. Like millions of others in our generation, we came to adulthood facing the harsh realities of the Vietnam War. 2.7 million in our age group went to Vietnam, a war which eventually took the lives of 58,000 young Americans and cost another 300,000 wounded. The Marine Corps lost 100,000 killed or wounded in that war. During the year I was in Vietnam, 1969, our country lost twice as many dead as we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the past 10 years of war. 1968 was worse. 1967 was about the same. Not a day goes by when I do not think about the young Marines I was privileged to lead.This was a time of conscription, where every American male was eligible to be drafted. People made choices about how to deal with the draft, and about military service. I have never envied or resented any of the choices that were made as long as they were done within the law. But those among us who stepped forward to face the harsh unknowns and the lifelong changes that can come from combat did so with the belief that their service would be honored, and that our leaders would, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, care for those who had borne the battle, and for their widows and their children.
Those young Marines that I led have grown older now. They’ve lived lives of courage, both in combat and after their return, where many of them were derided by their own peers for having served. That was a long time ago. They are not bitter. They know what they did. But in receiving veterans’ benefits, they are not takers. They were givers, in the ultimate sense of that word. There is a saying among war veterans: “All gave some, some gave all.” This is not a culture of dependency. It is a part of a long tradition that gave this country its freedom and independence. They paid, some with their lives, some through wounds and disabilities, some through their emotional scars, some through the lost opportunities and delayed entry into civilian careers which had already begun for many of their peers who did not serve.And not only did they pay. They will not say this, so I will say it for them. They are owed, if nothing else, at least a mention, some word of thanks and respect, when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes a speech accepting his party’s nomination to be commander-in-chief. And they are owed much more than that — a guarantee that we will never betray the commitment that we made to them and to their loved ones.[C]oming from Webb — a voice for the white working class, a former Navy secretary and decorated Vietnam veteran whose son left college to enlist as an infantry private in the Marine Corps and fought in the Iraq War — his words carry a punch that few other Democratic surrogates can muster.
That's right. Military veterans receiving benefits and those on active duty do not pay income taxes on their benefits. These individuals are part of the 47% that Mitt Romney holds in thinly veiled contempt. The man is despicable.
|Mitt Romney in 1968 - while thousands of young Americans were dying in Vietnam|