August 23, 2007
”Home to Houston,” one of the great antiwar tracks on country rocker Steve Earle’s album The Revolution Starts Now, tells the story of a soldier stationed in Basra who day after day drives a supply truck along routes threatened by suicide bombers:
I wound ‘er up
and I shifted her down
and I offered this prayer to my Lord:
Said, “God get me back home to Houston alive,
and I won’t drive a truck anymore.”
I thought of those lyrics when I read about the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney’s answer to the question of why none of his five sons has served in the military, much less in Iraq. Avoiding the question, Romney replied that “one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected.” To put the cherry on the icing of this absurdity, he (in the words of Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal) “noted that his boy Josh had driven a Winnebago to all of Iowa’s 99 counties “ all 99 of them!”
One wonders on how many of those trips Josh felt compelled to utter a prayer to any of the myriad Mormon gods to get him home to Boston or Salt Lake City alive. The idea that a politician’s son driving a Winnebago is making a sacrifice similar to that of the men (and, sadly, women) on the ground in Iraq goes well beyond mere chickenhawkery. Someone (I believe it was Waugh or Chesterton) once wrote that the elite used to take war seriously, and you could tell by the fact that they were willing to enlist themselves and to send their own sons to war. Romney’s ridiculous comment shows that, for him, this war is simply a game.
Of course, the fact that it’s a game played with the lives of other men’s sons and daughters seems not to bother Romney. Sadly, Steve Earle seems to have nailed it on the very next track on The Revolution Starts Now:
Somebody somewhere had another plan
Now he’s got a rifle in his hand
Rolling into Baghdad
Wondering how he got this far.
Just another poor boy off to fight a rich man’s war.