[FoRK] Salon on Bushs' (lack of) Service

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Thu Sep 9 13:34:24 PDT 2004

> Sorry?  The ad made by the SBVT, you mean?  A de facto social 
> excommunication by the military as a community?  Huh?

Yes, the SBVT ad.  It more or less stripped him of his status as a
former soldier and veteran, which is what really surprised me when I
heard it.  There is a very big difference between saying "we don't like
John Kerry" and what was actually said.

There are protocols and strong cultural conventions about how you
interact with other soldiers and what you say about them publicly, no
matter how much you dislike them.  If just one person made the
assertions made in that ad it would be dismissed as a soldier leaving
the reservation and would probably result in that person being
ostracized for making such a claim publicly about another soldier.  That
such a reputable and broad collection of veterans, including senior
officers, is willing to publicly make such claims about John Kerry gives
it an extraordinary amount of credibility.  There are Things You Do Not
Do in that community unless you have a damn good reason to, and that so
many nominally credible soldiers were willing to publicly put *their*
reputations on the line to make the assertion carries an enormous amount
of weight.

I would contrast this with the statements many Generals made about Clark
when he was campaigning.  It is no secret that the military
establishment at large does not like General Clark for many reasons, but
when the media went fishing for opinions among military people, the most
they ever really got was something along the lines of "I don't think he
would be a good candidate for President".  They never disparaged or
disavowed Clark because that goes against protocol and even though he is
greatly disliked, there is no cause in the minds of military folks to
"excommunicate" him (good word for it) from the military community.

Unlike Clark, who is still treated as a soldier among veterans, that ad
effectively served to deny Kerry his status as an honorable soldier
among veterans.  That is some serious, heavy-duty stuff.

> Are you a vet or just a secret agent, Andrew?

I was in the Army for a bit, spent the remainder of my time in the
Reserves, and actually terminated my contract early just like Bush,
though unlike Bush I did not have enough points to terminate when I did
-- my CO signed a waiver.  The National Guard is similar to the Reserve,
but different because the governor of the state can make appointments
and interfere in administrative decisions; there are some weird state
politics that can show up there.  I also worked for the DoD for a time
and in the private sector on DoD projects.  I was never attached to an
intelligence service personally, or at least my time was never charged
to any intelligence agencies by DFAS.

I left any association with that line of work in the very early '90s,
when I decided that the nascent World Wide Web thing had more potential
money in it than what I had been working on for the DoD, a very smart
decision in retrospect.  Working for the government sucks, even when you
are working on relatively interesting things.  Nonetheless, I still
intersect with that world pretty regularly.

j. andrew rogers

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