Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

One of the empty boys

by digby

The date was May 20, 1966. A group of students had taken over the office of Stanford President Wallace Sterling, protesting against the institution of a test that was among the first steps toward the Vietnam-era draft.

Carey Coulter, a conservative and anti-Communist student who had spent time as a civilian in Vietnam, was outraged and organized a counter-protest.

"We were there to get an education and these people holding the Administration hostage was antithetical to that," he recalled to BuzzFeed in his first interview about the day.

As the roughly 150 counter-protesters held signs and chatted with passing students, a tall, neatly-dressed 19-year old Coulter had never seen before approached him.

"He walked up to me and said that he had some experience with the press, and that he would handle the press for me if I wanted him to," Coulter recalled. "I said fine, because I was busy running the demonstration."

"He just saw the demonstration, was sympathetic to it obviously, and came up," Coulter said. He added that Romney hadn't made the sign he's carrying in the photograph.

Romney hadn't organized the protest, and wasn't part of Coulter's later efforts to beat back a growing student anti-war movement.

"I don’t recall ever seeing him again," Coulter said of Romney, who spent just a year at Stanford and enrolled after his mission in France at Brigham Young University[...]

Greenwald did the job on Romney's Vietnam non-experience back in 2007. I particularly liked this Boston Globe quote he refers to:

Mr. Romney, though, said that he sometimes had wished he were in Vietnam instead of France. "There were surely times on my mission when I was having a particularly difficult time accomplishing very little when I would have longed for the chance to be serving in the military," he said in an interview, "but that was not to be."

He was prevented from serving because he was a "minister of religion" you see. Such a pity.

Not that I particularly want to revisit the Vietnam wars, but this does remind me of a piece I wrote about fellows like Romney back in the day. It's long, this is just an excerpt:

The war provided two very distinct tribal pathways to manhood. One was to join "the revolution" which included the perk of having equally revolutionary women at their sides, freely joining in sexual as well as political adventure as part of the broader cultural revolution. (The 60's male leftist got laid. A lot.) And he was also deeply engaged in the major issue of his age, the war in Vietnam, in a way that was not, at the time, seen as cowardly, but rather quite threatening. His masculine image encompassed both sides of the male archetypal coin --- he was both virile and heroic.

The other pathway to prove your manhood was to test your physical courage in battle. There was an actual bloody fight going on in Vietnam, after all. Plenty of young men volunteered and plenty more were drafted. And despite the fact that it may be illogical on some level to say that if you support a war you must fight it, certainly if your self-image is that of a warrior, tradition requires that you put yourself in the line of fire to prove your courage if the opportunity presents itself. You simply cannot be a warrior if you are not willing to fight. This, I think, is deeply understood by people at a primitive level and all cultures have some version of it deeply embedded in the DNA. It's not just the willingness to die it also involves the willingness to kill. Men who went to Vietnam and faced their fears of killing and dying, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, put themselves to this test.

And then there were the chickenhawks. They were neither part of the revolution nor did they take the obvious step of volunteering to fight the war they supported. In fact, due to the draft, they allowed others to fight and die in their place despite the fact that they believed heartily that the best response to communism was to aggressively fight it "over there" so we wouldn't have to fight it here. These were empty boys, unwilling to put themselves on the line at the moment of truth, yet they held the masculine virtues as the highest form of human experience and have portrayed themselves ever since as tough, uncompromising manly men while portraying liberals as weak and effeminate.

Now it must be pointed out that there were many men, and many more women, who didn't buy into any of this "manhood" stuff and felt no need to join in tribal rituals or bloody wars to prove anything. Most of those men, however, didn't aspire to political leadership. Among the revolutionaries, the warriors and the chickenhawks, there were many who did. Indeed, these manhood rituals are more often than not a requirement for leadership. (Perhaps having more women in power will finally change that.)

The only political aspirants among those three groups who failed to meet the test of their generation were the chickenhawks. And our problem today is that they are the ones in charge of the government as we face a national security threat. These unfulfilled men still have something to prove.

It's a little psycho-babbly, I admit. But I still think there's something to this. The political leadership that emerged from the Vietnam generation are peculiar in this way, no doubt about it.

And, by the way, late boomer Barack Obama, despite his protestations to contrary, grew up in a culture immersed in all this, so he hasn't escaped it. I don't think he's operating from this same logic, however. If he's trying to prove something, I don't think it stems from this particular pathology.

Romney, on the other hand, is one of those guys, with all the baggage that comes with it. Look at that picture.