October 18, 2012

George McGovern

The 1972 Democratic Presidential candidate is gravely ill at age 90. From a reader review of popular military historian Stephen Ambrose's book The Wild Blue:
This book has two central characters and is mostly a story about their shared experiences. The first subject is 2nd Lt. George McGovern, who in 1944 was just a typical US Army Air Force pilot; nothing here hints at the man, who, nearly 30 years later, would run for US president. The second is a machine, the B-24 Liberator, and one plane in particular - McGovern's "Dakota Queen", which he piloted on 35 bombing missions over Germany from his base in Cerignola, Italy, as part of the 741st Squadron, 455th Bomb Group. ...

35 bombing missions (30 as pilot) over occupied Europe was a lot. The brass tried to set the number required so that an airman had better than a 50% chance of surviving. But not a whole lot better.
The Liberator comes by it's neglected treatment in history, and it's earned reputation as an ugly duckling quite fairly, as the following description of conditions in the plane attests. "Steering the four-engined airplane was difficult and exhausting, as there was no power except the pilot's muscles. It had no windshield wipers, so the pilot had to stick his head out the side window to see during a rain...there was no heat, despite temperatures that at 20,000 feet and higher got as low as 40 or 50 degrees below zero...the seats were not padded, could not be reclined, and were cramped into so small a space that a man had almost no chance to stretch and none whatsoever to relax. Absolutely nothing was done to make it comfortable for the pilot, co-pilot, or the other eight men in the crew..." Yet, as with all ugly ducklings, it had it's day and earned it's admirers. There were more B-24's built than any other US airplane and Ambrose says "it would be an exaggeration to say that the B-24 won the war for the Allies. But don't ask how they could have won the war without it." 
The greater emphasis of the book is on McGovern and his crew's experiences and it's in the telling of these stories where Ambrose's skills always shine; allowing the personal recollections of the participants to make the events come alive for us the readers. We follow the crew from induction through training to their arrival in Italy in 1944. There was danger from the outset. The book reveals that in basic and advanced flight training over 3,500 men lost their lives, 824 in 1943 alone; survival was an issue even before entering combat.

The number of non-combat (training and transport) aerial deaths in WWII was staggering by today's standards.
McGovern and his crew experienced their fair share of adventures on missions. On one flight an engine quit, then another was hit by flak; on two engines he was losing altitude rapidly but McGovern managed to nurse the bomber down for an emergency landing on an airstrip less than half the length the B-24 normally required. For this feat McGovern earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. By highlighting McGovern's experiences are we to believe that the book is portraying him as exceptional? Not at all. The reality is that when he arrived in Italy in 1944, McGovern was a 21 year old pilot. His co-pilot and navigator were the same age and half his crew were teenagers. What Ambrose sees as extraordinary is that these stories of survival, skill, courage, fortitude, bravery, and duty, are all, each and every single one, the exploits of very young men - even boys. Indeed he says "in the twenty-first century, adults would hardly give such youngsters the key to the family car, but in the first half of the 1940's the adults sent them out to play a critical role in saving the world."

McGovern was not, by nature, a physically fearless man, so 35 missions was quite a psychological challenge for him to overcome.

I'm reminded of Frank Capra's account of a publicity tour he made with Colonel Jimmy Stewart in 1946 to promote It's a Wonderful Life. They had hired a private plane and pilot to get them to a Texas city in time for a parade in their honor, but the flight encountered, at various points, electrical storms, high winds, fog, dust storm, night, running low on fuel, mechanical problems, and losing track of where the airport might be. Capra, who knew nothing about flying, found the experience worrisome, but Stewart, who had commanded at least 20 bomber missions over Germany and knew every single thing that could kill an airman, was utterly terrified.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

In Ernest Gann's brilliant memoir of civil aviation, 'Fate Is The Hunter', he thought the civil version of the Liberator, the C87, even worse.

"It was said that the assembly of parts known collectively as a "C-87" would never replace the airplane".

Anyone who likes The Right Stuff you should read it. I wonder if Tom Wolfe did :

"We could not seem to convince our listeners, either male or female, that the wearing of symbolical wings elsewhere than on a uniform was frowned on. It was a hoary axiom of flying that young neophytes were possessed of three things in lieu of actual air experience - large ornamental wings, a large and complicated wristwatch, and a penis to match the assembly. In time the more romantically ambitious crew members sent away to a mail-order house for the largest wings they could buy. They reported immediate and thrilling social progress."

jody said...

it's mind boggling that democrat politicians at the national level used to often have legitimate military service or even be national hero level guys like john glenn.

that era is long, long over. we now settle into the (permanent?) era of the sniveling, know nothing, do nothing, ass covering, double talking, weak lawyer. weak, unaccomplished lawyers are now the only people allowed to vie for the highest levels of office in the democrat party.

foreign expert said...

I think my father flew about 60 missions. Just came back from his bomb group reunion (he and most are dead but about 12 survive). They all seem to be really ordinary guys, but all are solid citizens.

Carol said...

Stewart was pretty shaky when he came back to the states. I'm not surprised he was terrified. Twenty missions was his limit. But a mensch,for sure.

I really don't think anyone else but the young could pull off things like this. Or war in general for that matter.

Beecher Asbury said...

I had the privilege to fly in a B-24 and B-17 both owned by the Collings Foundation.

It cost about $400 per ride, but was well worth it. The one thing I noticed, that stood out above all the rest, was that the men in the 1940s must have been around 130 to 150 pounds and very fit and trim.

Most of the people on my flight struggled to squeeze into the nose section and the tight turrets. And they were all wearing casual clothing. Just think how hard it would have been wearing a flight suit and all that equipment. And the people on my flight were not exactly obese. They were your typical modern, chunky 180 pound guys.

Anonymous said...

Being a war hero doesn't qualify you to be President - look at McCain. Romney is no war hero but he's a much better candidate than McCain was. Being a top general (Eisenhower) is helpful but a job as a pilot does little to prepare you for the Presidency. A governorship is probably the best background.

Bill said...

My grandpa, who at the same age as McGovern is also fading fast, flew 32 missions over Europe, starting in the autumn of '43. When I was a teenager, he talked to me about it, apparently never having said much to his own children.

On his first mission, as they approached the target and flak started going off around his B-17, he couldn't help but feel very doleful as it struck home that people were actually trying to kill him.

He mentioned other awful things, like watching parachutes that opened too soon get soaked with gas and ignited by flaming debris. He said they looked like burning ping pong balls from where he sat.

He also saw planes get hit and then go into a high g loop while falling, preventing the crew from bailing out. He told me a lot more; it was pretty awful.

Thousands of men went through it. As I get older those days seem closer for some reason than they did when I was a boy. Maybe I can simply grasp the human factor better, and as the sheen wears off our victory it seems more tragically ordinary.

beowulf said...

That Stewart story is pretty funny. I actually think about him whenever I'm on a flight with a lot of turbulence. I figure there's no need to worry, its not like the Germans are trying to shoot us down.

After WWII, Jimmy Stewart stayed in the Air Force Reserve, retiring in the late 60s as a Brigadier General. There's a great story (as Reid Buckley told it) of Stewart traveling to Spain to film a movie and arriving late at night to check in at the Madrid Ritz. Apparently the hotel's owner had a policy of not allowing actors as guests, so the clerk has to apologetically explain to Stewart why they couldn't give him a room. Stewart fished out a business card and said, "Maybe this will help".

The clerk read it, brightened and said, "The Ritz is honored to welcome General James Stewart of the United States Air Force". The General got his room.

Anonymous said...

it's mind boggling that democrat politicians at the national level used to often have legitimate military service or even be national hero level guys like john glenn.

that era is long, long over. we now settle into the (permanent?) era of the sniveling, know nothing, do nothing, ass covering, double talking, weak lawyer. weak, unaccomplished lawyers are now the only people allowed to vie for the highest levels of office in the democrat party.


It's the same with the Republicans. Romney and GW Bush were draft dodgers.

not worth reading said...

Steven Ambrose uses "it's" wrongly? Or did iSteve or someone else type the quote in manually?

Anonymous said...

When John Wayne would get a bit too tall in the saddle while shooting THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALENCE, John Ford would knock him down a peg or two by asking Wayne what it felt like co-starring with a genuine war hero like Jimmy Stewart.

Syon

AllanF said...

Here's a beautiful and moving recount from a tail gunner that survived his 30 missions. It's hard to appreciate how harrowing an experience it was, but I think this does a better job than most. Not much bravado, just an older guy recounting his experience some 40 years hence.

http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/2012/02/earn-this.html

Also remarkable how far the country has fallen. Now more than ever "asking not what your country can do for you," is needed, and yet the sentiment is as remote as its ever been. Reading what the guys in WWII did puts it in stark relief.

Anonymous said...

Yet, he lost to Reagan who only pretended to fly planes (in the movies.)

Anonymous said...

"it's mind boggling that democrat politicians at the national level used to often have legitimate military service or even be national hero level guys like john glenn.

that era is long, long over. we now settle into the (permanent?) era of the sniveling, know nothing, do nothing, ass covering, double talking, weak lawyer. weak, unaccomplished lawyers are now the only people allowed to vie for the highest levels of office in the democrat party. "

Indeed, in stark contrast to the great war heroes of the Republican party: GW Bush, Cheney, Romney, Paul Ryan.

Auntie Analogue said...

They don't make nothin' like they used to. Even, perhaps especially, U.S. citizens.

My Uncle John was a flight engineer/top turret gunner in a B-24 that was shot down on one of the Ploesti oil field raids. He spent the rest of his World War II in a Luftstalag, which was nothing like 'Hogan's Heroes.'

'Bless them all...."

Joseph Moroco said...

Ah, Jody, there is a whole list of pols over at a website called the Chickenhawk hall of fame. It seems the Republicans have higher honors in not serving.

DaveinHackensack said...

" The one thing I noticed, that stood out above all the rest, was that the men in the 1940s must have been around 130 to 150 pounds and very fit and trim."

About 20 years ago, I took a history or poly sci class about strategic bombing in WWII. For one of the last classes, the professor had an enlisted veteran airman speak about his experiences and take questions. After the class, the old guy stood by the exits and shook hands with the students on the way out. He was a little elf, maybe 5'4" or 5'5". Figure he was an inch or two taller when he was younger.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The modern era is tha anomaly compared to all eras of death in war, whether combat or non-combat. We are strange not only in comparison to WWII, but to all of human history.

We believe our wealthy, peaceful lives are normal. This deeply colors our view of history, deploring the actions of this people or that, which were not worse than the actions of any other people on the planet.

eah said...

Sad news about McGovern. Memorable political figure from the '70s. Memorable to me for his seemingly genuine earnestness and honesty.

The Liberator comes by it's neglected treatment in history, and it's earned reputation as an ugly duckling quite fairly,...

I see the text is from a review. The incorrect use of "it's" is consistent, anyway. You should have added (sic).

Anonymous said...

And the people on my flight were not exactly obese. They were your typical modern, chunky 180 pound guys.


The modern guy is actually 191 pounds on average. In the sixties men averaged about 165 pounds. I don't know about WWII but presumably less than 165lbs.

Roland said...

@Jody:

As I recall, the last presidential candidate with combat experience was John Kerry, who faced danger and death in Vietnam, no matter the pernicious slurs against him by the Swift boat crowd. What danger have you faced?

eah said...

OT

Anyone near of visiting Dallas should consider visiting the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field. Call ahead to verify that Charles Mohrle will be there. A WWII figher pilot who flew strafing missions etc in his P-47 to support the D-Day invasion and the follow-on campaigns on the western front. Listen to his stories, greet him, shake his hand. Guys like him are disappearing quickly.

sestamibi said...

Although I was back then a Republican of the liberal/Ripon Society stripe (and am now a hardcore right-winger), I did vote for him in my first presidential election ballot. And you know what? I have never regretted it!

In the past few years I have come to admire George McGovern not only for the principled stands he took in opposing the organized labor "card check" power grab and in an article in the Wall Street Journal about the need for individual responsibility, but also for the grief and sorrow he suffered while watching his daughter Terry slide downhill and be found frozen to death in a snowbank in Madison, WI. No father ever loved his daughter more.



Truth said...

"A governorship is probably the best background."

20th/21st century ex-governor presidents have been hit and miss:
G.W. Bush
Clinton
Regan
Carter
FDR
Coolidge
Wilson

I would say they've been no more regarded than ex-senatorial presidents:
Obama
Nixon
Johnson
Kennedy
Truman
Harding

These guys probably did not inspire the great highs and lows of the Governor group. Also interesting is that they don't seem to have the same silver-spoon upbringings.

Presidents PRIMARILY known as being vice-president(20th-21st centuries):

G.H.W. Bush
Gerald Ford

Armed Forces
Eisenhower

Judicial
Taft

Cabinet Secretaries
Hoover



RM Nixon said...

Yet, he lost to Reagan who only pretended to fly planes (in the movies.)

Wait, what?

Beecher Asbury said...

From Truth's list I would say the lesson is to never, ever elect another person from Texas. America cannot survive another LBJ or W.

Anonymous said...

"but in the first half of the 1940's the adults sent them out to play a critical role in saving the world."

so that we could have the one we have today.

anony-mouse said...

Yet another argument for drones.

For that matter yet another argument for pilotless planes in general.

Anonymous said...

Yet, he lost to Reagan who only pretended to fly planes


Uh huh.

McGovern lost to Nixon, not to Reagan.

Reagan defeated Carter in 1980, and Mondale in 1984.

Being a lefty means never having to worry about pesky things like reality.

Anonymous said...

Modern academia has gone astray and identity studies programs are in large part the culprit, argues author and poet Bruce Bawer in his new book ”The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind.”

“Identity studies sum up everything that’s wrong with the humanities today,” Bawer told The Daily Caller. “They’re about nothing other than group identity, group oppression, and group grievance. Instead of engaging in objective scholarly study of, say, black American history or women’s literature, these departments are boosters for everything having to do with the group in question. It’s all slogans. Kids don’t learn anything other than to think of themselves as having been wronged by capitalism, by the West, by America, by white men.”

http://dailycaller.com/2012/10/18/book-rise-of-gender-and-ethnic-studies-programs-helped-bring-about-decline-of-modern-academia/

Truth said...

" jody said...
it's mind boggling that democrat politicians at the national level used to often have legitimate military service or even be national hero level guys like john glenn."

And you served in which branch of service, again?

Anonymous said...

Joseph Moroco: Ah, Jody, there is a whole list of pols over at a website called the Chickenhawk hall of fame. It seems the Republicans have higher honors in not serving.

What next? A chickenaccountant, a chickenhomebuilder, a chickenfireman and a chickencop hall of fame? How is it that some people can't make an argument without reflexively turning to irrelevant ad hominems?

NOTA said...

Well, McCain, Kerry, and Gore all served in Vietnam, though I gather Gore had a pretty easy time, Kerry was a hero, and McCain had a truly nightmarish time. So it's not like there are no veterans with a shot at the top job. Gore more-or-less tied, Kerry and McCain lost clearly. I doubt their war records hurt them, though it's not clear if they helped.

And here's the painful part: someone fighting in WW2 actually was in some real sense fighting for the US and our interests. Fighting in Vietnam was risking throwing away your life on the inability of politicians to be seen domestically to be weak on communism. It didn't make any diffence at all for the US, really, whether Vietnam ended up Communist or not. So in one sense, the willingness of McCain and Kerry to go fight on behalf of their country was admirable, and at another, it was a tragic waste.

Anonymous said...

Reagan may have only pretended to fly (what movie was that?) but he was in the army reserve long before WW2 and thus cannot be accused of jumping on a bandwagon in time of war. Or of pulling a GWB in some fashion.

beowulf said...

Yet, he lost to Reagan who only pretended to fly planes (in the movies.)

Nixon had a rock solid draft deferment (he was a lawyer in the Office of Price Administration working for ironically enough, John Kenneth Galbraith) which he gave up to enlist in the Navy (he was a supply officer in the South Pacific).
Reagan was already an Army reservist from before the war but his eyesight was so poor he was barred from overseas duty.

Anonymous said...

Great last line Steve- made me lol as the kids say. Well they don't say they text it. $23.47 coming your way because that is thE value of an lol

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

It's the same with the Republicans. Romney and GW Bush were draft dodgers.

Oh this crap again? The whole thread is about the risk inherent in military aviation--GW Bush flew the F-102 Delta Dagger, an interceptor with a staggeringly high possibility of killing its pilot.

Rainer said...

From the comments it's obvious that the average American lacks an important human experience: he never has been the object of bombing. (9/11 was a kind of attack by airforce, but seemingly the public has not learned much from it).

Rainer said...

From the comments it's obvious that the average American lacks an important human experience: he never has been the object of bombing. (9/11 was a kind of attack by airforce, but seemingly the public has not learned much from it).

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Important to remember that although the 21 year olds of today haven't served in combat, many have played Call of Duty and have served admirably.


Dan on DC

Auntie Analogue said...

WWII USAAC/USAAF combat aircrew had to be under a maximum height; it was simple arithmetic for the AAC/AAF to know that tall men could not perform in the tight confines of combat aircraft - especially in the hyper-cramped cocoon of the ball turrets slung beneath B-17's and B-24's. Weight was not an issue for the generation of young aircrew who'd grown up through the Depression; besides, induction into the army required an inductee's weight fall within the min-max window for his height.

(I've spent time inside a B-17, explored its interior at leisure, and I was taken aback by how cramped it is for every crewmember except the radioman whose aft of the bombay compartment is fairly roomy. Also spent time inside a B-25 Mitchell, whose interior is far tighter than that of the B-17. The Navy's postwar twin-engine P2V/P-2 Neptune ASW patrol plane. in which I also spent some time, was arguably even more cramped than the insides of the B-25; to move forward or aft inside thet Nepture you had to crawl laboriously over the wing spar that carried through the middle of the fuselage and under the low overhead, and in flight gear this was no picnic.)

In WWII, in the U.S. and other militaries then and up to now, the technical branches of the services - with aviation leading those branches - enjoyed prime pick of the inductees of top intelligence and physical acumen. This left the infantry to make do with inductees of lowest IQ and even of lowest physical aptitude. Best book on the subject of WWII personnel selection is 'The Sharp End' by John Ellis (for a time in the U.S. its title was 'On The Front Lines').

Glaivester said...

Truth - well, in three of those cases (Bush the Elder, LBJ, and Richard Nixon) the President had significant experience as Vice President before taking office (Harry S Truman had a few months of Vice Presidential experience, although it is debatable whether that is long enough to matter).

One thing a lot of people probably don't think about is that Obama is the first President to come from the legislature (as in, that being his highest previous office) since Gerald Ford, and the first from the Senate since Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

From the comments it's obvious that the average American lacks an important human experience: he never has been the object of bombing. (9/11 was a kind of attack by airforce, but seemingly the public has not learned much from it).

Irony? Rainer is missing the important human experience of having someone who loves him.

Truth said...

"GW Bush flew the F-102 Delta Dagger, an interceptor with a staggeringly high possibility of killing its pilot."

Yes, he narrowly avoid the calamity of crash landing into a Little Rock Piggly-Wiggly.

Truth said...

"since Gerald Ford, and the first from the Senate since Kennedy."

Ford was VP as well. Up until about 1970, being VP carried more weight, as they were appointed by the delegates, not the President.

Baloo said...

Out of the gang of Republicans running for the nomination, only Perry and Paul had military service, BTW, Are ANY vets running in any of the Third parties even? I can't find that Gary Johnson had service. Virgil Good spent the war years in the reserves. Wait, here's the vet we vets can vote for:
Merlin Miller

bluegrass said...

"adults would hardly give such youngsters the key to the family car, but in the first half of the 1940's the adults sent them out to play a critical role in saving the world"

Yes Amurrica! Sending our children to die abroad since 1898!

We saved the world for sure! we saved...............

wait what did we save again? Honey-boo-boo, mass immigration, Stalinism?

jody said...

"It's the same with the Republicans."

it's not, but thanks for playing.

"Indeed, in stark contrast to the great war heroes of the Republican party: GW Bush, Cheney, Romney, Paul Ryan."

lot of trolls out today.

"Ah, Jody, there is a whole list of pols over at a website called the Chickenhawk hall of fame. It seems the Republicans have higher honors in not serving."

i like the part where nobody even bothered to read the entire 3 sentences i wrote.

"As I recall, the last presidential candidate with combat experience was John Kerry"

i seem to remember this john mccain guy. troll, troll, troll your boat.

how about the second part of what i wrote? i note, not a single refutation.

"And you served in which branch of service, again?"

so, you admit you can't address what i said then? i note that not only did democrats often used to be great americans, and whereas not only has that changed completely, to the point where they're mostly scumbags, but they are now also exclusively lawyers, and bad ones at that.

jody said...

note for trolls: note how romney is actually a good american, with no major character flaws, a high achiever, and a success at most things he tried. my initial post was to point out the decline in accomplishment and respectability among democrats.

at one time, some democrats at the national level were even great americans. whereas the democrats at the national level these days...well, yeah.

will love to hear your deflections, obfuscations, and denials as you pick out 2 or 3 not so great republicans in an attempt to employ classic liberal balancing tactics. "There's some crappy Republicans too, so, see, both sides do it." avoiding the issue that the ratio is about 5 to 1, or more, for how weak, unaccomplished, and morally corrupt each democrat party politician is becoming.

anybody with a brain can see that the top of the democrat party at the national is being stacked with manure for brains losers. reid? wasserman? pelosi? villaraigosa? and now this julian castro guy? are they serious?

certainly this doesn't mean they can't win elections though, as the "Vote for me and I'll give you free stuff" platform has always been very popular, and is perhaps soon to become a surefire winner in every election, the way the demographics are going. maybe that's why great americans don't go in for becoming democrat politicians anymore. the democratic national platform itself, based on abrasive screeching, handouts, open anti-american sentiment, victimization psychology, and cultural marxism, has turned the democrat party into a refuge for weak lawyers who weren't that good at their job, so they defaulted to politics.

can anybody really see the first man on mars retiring from NASA in 2026, and then turning to a career in politics where he becomes the democrat senator from illinois who works ardently hard to encode affirmative action into the US constitution with the 29th amendment, stamps out the last vestiges of the heterosexual resistance to the required department of education homosexual curriculum for public schools grades 4, 8, and 12, and passes a successful bill in the senate in 2031 to allow sharia law to supercede common law in any US legal jurisdiction so wishing to operate under it? doesn't seem the like kind of thing a high flying high acheiver would go for, does it.

you know, i saw corey booker on piers morgan, and he sounds a lot smarter than obama. maybe the democrats should try him out, instead of these affirmative action mexicans they seem likely to start going for.

Jim said...

Roland said...

Roland said:
"As I recall, the last presidential candidate with combat experience was John Kerry, who faced danger and death in Vietnam, no matter the pernicious slurs against him by the Swift boat crowd. What danger have you faced?"

Roland ... Uh, have you ever heard of John McCain? He was helping another pilot out of his plane during the Forestall fire, when shrapnelled in the legs. Then volunteered to switch carriers for another assignment. And not just combat but 5-1/2 years in a POW camp, in which he was a genuine hero standing up to torture and refusing a propaganda release. No four months and out. You might have missed it since he never made a big show of "reporting for duty".

I hate the guy's Hispandering and wasn't too crazy about his neocon Georgian war mongering so i didn't vote for him. But he's an actual straight up American hero.

Jim said...


Always liked McGovern, a class act. A man of the old communal we-help-each-other-out prairie populist style liberalism. A far cry from the the party of rent-seeking scum that's there now. "The parasite party" is how they should be labelled.

I wish we could purge the rent-seekers from the Republican party and have it be solidly a "party of the productive" that represents working Americans actual interests.

How a measure of how pathetically far we are from that is how incredibly weak Romney's answer was to the immigration question. He could have one the election *right then* with a few choice words standing with the people of Arizona wanting to protect their lives and getting the finger from Obama, or simply the American worker job displacement, every net job during this recovery has gone to an immigrant, native Americans have seen no job recovery at all or simply stating that immigration policy must be designed to benefit *Americans* not foreigners. Instead "nation of immigrants" pablum--my wife's an immigrant from India and even i'm sick of hearing that crap--and an indication that he's only marginally less willing to sell out Americans than Obama, who's positively eager.

It's a sad, sad state of affairs in the formerly great USofA.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he narrowly avoid the calamity of crash landing into a Little Rock


If there existed truth in handles, you'd have to change yours to "Turd". There's not a dimes worth of difference between you and the other fascism lovers who wandered in recently for election season.

Anonymous said...

Kerry was a hero

Oh, come off it. He was no hero. If Kerry was a "hero", what words are left to describe men like McGovern, or McCain, let alone those like Audi Murphy?

hailtoyou said...

Jody wrote:
"romney is actually a good american, with no major character flaws, a high achiever, and a success at most things he tried"

I wonder to what extent this is what animates opposition to him, and against Republicans in general. Maybe not 'jealousy', as such, but something more nuanced.

I'd propose two archetypes that would be annoyed at Romney's success, as I see it:

(1) Deep Cultural Pessimists -- i.e., those Whites who love failure, of which the Ethnomasochist is one easily visible manifestation; if one if a "failure-phile", what would serve better to irritate than the kind of person Romney is?

(2) Those who see themselves as minority victims of White-Protestant-American culture would necessarily be annoyed by shining examples of W-P-A success. (Probably a decent share of the USA's ~200-million Census-identified Whites, actually, are "minority-identifiers"). Professor Kevin MacDonald's works on Jewish attitudes towards Christian (especially Protestant) cultures comes to mind here. A similar dynamic may apply to all "minority-identifiers", though not as pronounced.

[Did I just describe the bulk of the Democratic Party's base with these two categories?]

ben tillman said...

Although I was back then a Republican of the liberal/Ripon Society stripe (and am now a hardcore right-winger), I did vote for him in my first presidential election ballot. And you know what? I have never regretted it!

I voted for him when my second-grade teacher polled the class. He lost 17-7.

Truth said...

"so, you admit you can't address what i said then?"

The last five Democrats running for President:

Obama: No military service, to young for Vietnam

Kerry: Medaled Vietnam war vet.

Gore: Legacy Vietnam war vet

Clinton: Draftdodger, but anti-Vietnam

Dukakis: Army Korean war vet.

The last five Republicans running for president:

Romney: Chickenhawk draft dodger

McCain: Legacy war bumbler Peter principled pilot

G.W. Bush: Legacy war bumbler ditto

Robert Dole: War hero

G.H.W Bush: War hero

Reagan: Stateside during WWII, later lied about it

In my humble opinion, not much to choose from there. Jody, I don't know how old you are, but let me give you some advice; the military takes enlistees up to 29, I believe now, maybe tomorrow you should take a little field trip to your local recruiting office, and see what the each have to offer. You will get excitement, camaraderie, and travel for the next four years, and you will be able to make your points without sounding like such a dweeby spectator from now on.



Mr. Anon said...

More remarkable today than a politician with military experience would be an actor or entertainer or newsman with military experience. There were lots of actors who served during and after WWII: Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, David Niven, Lee Marvin, Don Rickles, etc.

Anonymous said...

McGovern: bombing Nazis to kingdom come, good.
Bombing commies to kingdom come, no good.

Anonymous said...

"There were lots of actors who served during and after WWII: Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, David Niven, Lee Marvin, Don Rickles, etc."

They were either heroic or naive as hell.

Matthew said...

"From the comments it's obvious that the average American lacks an important human experience: he never has been the object of bombing."

In contrast to the average German or Jap alive today, who both have copious amounts of experience getting bombed.

Just the other day it crossed my mind that this may well be the first election in decades (ever?) where neither candidate on either major party ticket has any military experience. Romney and Biden each received mutliple deferments. Neither Obama nor Ryan seem to have given military service much thought.

It's hard to blame the parties, though: in the last 5 presidential elections the candidate with the most military experience lost - McCain to Obama, Kerry and Gore to Bush, and Dole and Bush to Clinton.

The last time the candidate with more miltiary experience won was when George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he narrowly avoid the calamity of crash landing into a Little Rock

Flying century-series jets, an all-weather, day/night supersonic interceptor with 1950s technology, was no joke. If Bush wanted something safe he'd have been better served turning wrenches somewhere.

Jimmy Stewart actually flew significantly more than his credited 20 missions. He was promoted to a staffie operations officer position after flying many combat missions yet chose to fly still more combat missions while ordering that they not be credited to his missions flown total.

Anonymous said...

David Niven, leading his men in combat: "Look, you lads only have to do this once. But I'll have to do it all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn."

Anonymous said...

Kerry was a hero

Oh, come off it. He was no hero. If Kerry was a "hero", what words are left to describe men like McGovern, or McCain, let alone those like Audi Murphy?


Perhaps someone's thinking of Bob Kerrey, who ran for President in '92 and who recieved the MOH. Undeniable hero. Instead we got Clinton.

Chris said...

In Malayan Spymaster, Boris Hembry recounts that he and his wife watched three passenger planes fall out of the sky together over, if I remember, Heathrow, during the war. Chalked up to lightning, but who knows? Of course, they got on with their previously planned trip, whereas I would have stayed grounded.

Paul Mendez said...

GW Bush flew the F-102 Delta Dagger, an interceptor with a staggeringly high possibility of killing its pilot.

I'm no Dubya fan, but I have nothing but contempt for the people who call him "stupid" or "draft-dodger."

...the F-102 was still far more dangerous to fly than today's combat aircraft. Compared to the F-102's lifetime accident rate of 13.69, today's planes generally average around 4 mishaps per 100,000 hours. For example, compare the F-16 at 4.14, the F-15 at 2.47, the F-117 at 4.07, the S-3 at 2.6, and the F-18 at 4.9. Even the Marine Corps' AV-8B, regarded as the most dangerous aircraft in US service today, has a lifetime accident rate of only 11.44 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. The F-102 claimed the lives of many pilots, including a number stationed at Ellington during Bush's tenure. Of the 875 F-102A production models that entered service, 259 were lost in accidents that killed 70 Air Force and ANG pilots.

Link

A bleeding-heart international elitist with little respect for the Constitution?

Yes.

A stupid coward?

No.

Dutch Boy said...

A plug for Reagan: his poor eyesight made him undraftable but he served anyway making training films. He could have been making movies while the actors serving were away (as did many undraftable actors) but did not.

Dutch Boy said...

A British historian once described the air war against Germany and Japan as the "most savgage form of warfare since the Seljuks."

ben tillman said...

Always liked McGovern, a class act. A man of the old communal we-help-each-other-out prairie populist style liberalism. A far cry from the the party of rent-seeking scum that's there now. "The parasite party" is how they should be labelled.

I wish we could purge the rent-seekers from the Republican party and have it be solidly a "party of the productive" that represents working Americans actual interests.


Exactly right.

Truth said...

"If Bush wanted something safe he'd have been better served turning wrenches somewhere."

I'm no pilot, but I would assume it's a WHOLE HELLUVA LOT EASIER to do the job without someone shooting at you. Now, in 1972, or in 1942.

pat said...

I think readers of this blog should read or re-read Corsi's "Unfit for Command".

By now the all the evidence should be in. The controversy is in the past and you can find a copy cheap in the old paperback pile at any bookstore.

Maybe my remembrance is faulty but the points I remember are:

Kerry joined the Navy and the Swift Boats to avoid combat Corsi claimed that at the time naval officers were stationed off shore and out of danger. The Swift Boats were restricted then to off shore activities.

Kerry protested Swift Boats being used in combat Kerry, it is claimed, was upset that his safe berth was changed to a dangerous one.

Kerry sought medals Kerry we are told kept his own records and pursued every medal he might possibly be eligible for. He is claimed to have gotten a Purple Heart for a minor scratch. His Silver Star also seems questionable. I think he shot a nearly naked unarmed teenager in the back.

Kerry lied about his service before Congress He claimed that he and others had engaged in a systematic campaign of terror against civilians.

There are many other claims but these will do. As far as I know none of them has ever been adequately answered much less refuted. I think all these charges still stand. If not please tell.

Kerry's biggest problem was that he made his career as an anti-war activist who repudiated his former service. Then, when it became politically convenient, he tried to exploit it.

McGovern was just the opposite. Until a decade or so ago no one even knew that he had been a hero. Normally we expect out heroes to be self effacing - to have done more than their record suggests. Kerry was self promoting suggesting that he did less than his nominal record showed.

Albertosaurus

Truth said...

...And being in your 60's, Mr. Pat, the logical question is, what does YOUR draft record show?

Roland said...

OK, I forgot about McCain. My mistake. The point of the story is that anyone who served in combat deserves respect. Whether they are Republican or Democrat is beside the point. This should be one story that's not about politics.

diana said...

Jimmy Stewart weighed 138 pounds (at 6'1") at start of WWII. He was rejected as being too thin. He went on a weight gain binge and went just over the threshold, which I forget.

"They don't make nothin' like they used to. Even, perhaps especially, U.S. citizens."

True. I'm still getting over the fact that an actual American played Americans in American-made movies.

Leading man: yet another job white Americans can't do. (Or is it another job white Americans can't get hired for?)

Sword said...

In response to Matthew:

Most recent time that neither major party presidential candidate had any military experience was in the 1944 Roosevelt-Dewey matchup.

Anonymous said...

Albertosaurus:

I read Corsi's book: it's garbage, from an American dolchstosslegende pusher who's still butthurt that Kerry turned against an immoral, wasteful war in which he had earlier served with distinction.

All the guys who actually served on Kerry's boat, along with the Green Beret he pulled out of the water when he got his Bronze Star, thought he was a competent c.o. and a good guy. His later antiwar activities, political views, and pompous personality are completely irrelevant to his actual war record, and you look like a hack and a buffoon for pissing on it based on regurgitated talking points from a discredited book.

David said...

Jody said:

>romney is actually a good american, with no major character flaws, a high achiever<

He is a lucky rag-and-bone man made possible by government manipulation of free markets. (But what David Stockman know, eh?) His Mass. record is dismal. It would be interesting to know what his old buddy Bibi thinks of Romney's non-record of military service (but we will never know).

I know good Americans. I know people with no major character flaws. I've known high achievers, though none with quite as much money in the bank as Romney has. Jody, just because Obama is bad doesn't mean you should hero-worship Mitt; he doesn't deserve it.

But it's probably futile on my part to try to counteract Manichaean attitudes during an American election season.

The truth is, we are doomed.

Steiner said...

Mendez re W. and the F-102-

Yes, exactly, and the dangers of military aviation are much underappreciated in the popular mind, otherwise the charges of "draft dodger" and "chickenhawk" would have found no purchase against G. W. Bush.

McGovern flew in the Fifteenth Air Force, which, along with the 8th AF, lost close to 30,000 men in the European theatre, substantially more than the total losses of the Marine Corps in the Pacific in WW2. Again, the courage and suffering of these men is little known. Imagine a wounded crewman in a B-17 or B-24, he's bleeding out in a freezing, punctured hull at 20,000 feet, unpressurized, hours away from medical attention, and the crippled aircraft still has to land.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

Obama: No military service, to young for Vietnam

Clinton: Draftdodger, but anti-Vietnam

Romney: Chickenhawk draft dodger"

"Truth" has a very selective memory. How is Clinton any different than Romney? He had no problem sending American servicemen into harms way in Somalia and the Balkans. He had no compunction about bombing Serbia. So why isn't he also a "chickenhawk"?

And although Obama was too young for Vietnam, he wasn't too young for the Gulf War. He could have volunteered to do his bit - fighting a needless war abroad, just as he expects young men to do for him today.

But remember, "Truth" is not an Obama supporter - despite the fact that he never pipes up about him other than in his defence.

Truth said...

""Truth" has a very selective memory. How is Clinton any different than Romney? He had no problem sending American servicemen into harms way in Somalia and the Balkans. He had no compunction about bombing Serbia. So why isn't he also a "chickenhawk"?"

Any president is going to preside over murders, we've never had one who did not, so w"chickenhawkia" is all a matter of degree.

Mittens is a chickenhawk because he spoke out pro Vietnam PRIOR to taking deferments, AFTER returning, and he is a "law and order" "conservative" now (at least this week).

Clinton was anti-Vietnam, before, and after the wars, and he did start any new "wars" (of course he did, but in relative terms, they were skirmishes).

Yes, Obama COULD have enlisted in the Gulf war, but there was not a draft, he's obviously not a "hawk" (ask Bibi, he'll tell you), and at the time he was a 30-year old lawyer.

As you so eloquently wrote in the last thread, and I paraphrase for time, "Mittens COULD have left his wife for Lady Gaga, but it probably would not have made any sense.

NOTA said...

Truth:

Instead of asking Bibi, maybe we should ask the Libyans and Yemenis and Pakistanis and Afghans whether Obama is a hawk or a dove. They might have a somewhat different answer. Ideed, I imagine the Iranians also think of him as a hawk.

NOTA said...

I expect we are seeing a big transition here, relating to the end of the draft. Most future presidential candidates won't have been eligible for the draft, so few will have military experience. After all, ambitious people now don't want to take four years out of their lives to do something unrelated ti their field, and if you don't plan on a military career, you probably won't see joining the Marines as being especially related to your ambitions as (say) a lawyer, then prosecutor, then senator, and ultimately president.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

Clinton was anti-Vietnam, before, and after the wars, and he did start any new "wars" (of course he did, but in relative terms, they were skirmishes)."

Clinton was not primarily anti Vietnam War. He was primarily anti 2nd Lieutenant Bill Clinton stepping on a landmine (or anti 2nd Lieutenant Bill Clinton getting fragged by his own men - a probably equally likely outcome). What he was really interested in was "maintaining his viability within the system", as he said, because the boy-wonder wanted to be President since he was an embryo.

Oh, also, Bill Clinton was for the Gulf War, before, during and after it. That was one of the things he loudly proclaimed on the campaign trail in 92, in order to establish his bona fides as a "New Democrat". And coming out in support of wars long after one would ever have to pay the butcher's bill oneself certainly qualifies one for the status of "chickenhawk", if you ask me.

"Yes, Obama COULD have enlisted in the Gulf war, but there was not a draft, he's obviously not a "hawk" (ask Bibi, he'll tell you),"

Ask someone who was blown-up by a Hellfire missile in Pakistan - he'll tell you different.

"....and at the time he was a 30-year old lawyer."

30-year old lawyers can't enlist? Sure they can. Glark Gable was a 41 year-old actor when he enlisted in the army - and he even flew combat missions.

But we all know the score with you - Barry gets a special pass because he's black.

Truth said...

"Clinton was not primarily anti Vietnam War. He was primarily anti 2nd Lieutenant Bill Clinton stepping on a landmine (or anti 2nd Lieutenant Bill Clinton getting fragged by his own men - a probably equally likely outcome)."

Again, my good man, read what I wrote; they are all, of course, cowardly self-preservationists, ALL of them. The difference is that some of them (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Romney) were, and are vocal in their support of sending OTHER kids to fight wars, and some are not.

"And coming out in support of wars long after one would ever have to pay the butcher's bill oneself certainly qualifies one for the status of "chickenhawk", if you ask me."

As Noam Chomsky correctly stated, every US president of the 20th century is an international felon in violation of the Geneva Conference. EVERY ONE. But in the real world we compare presidents to OTHER PRESIDENTS not butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers, and there is a great difference, I would say in the opinion of most people, in CONTINUING a war (or killing a few hundred people with drones) and STARTING a war. Therein lies the difference between your garden variety dem Prez and his Republican counterpart.

"30-year old lawyers can't enlist? Sure they can. Glark Gable was a 41 year-old actor when he enlisted in the army - and he even flew combat missions."

He also drove a car with an engine that petered out after 50,000 miles; we don't live in 1938, Chief.

Quite honestly anon, if you cannot see (or, more likely, admit) the difference between a 30 year old lawyer NOT INITIATING military service, and a 20-year old student WORKING CHANNELS TO AVOID IT, there's not point in continuing this conversation.

"But we all know the score with you - Barry gets a special pass because he's black."

No, my friend, you have it wrong ONCE AGAIN:

I don't give Barry any extra credit because he is black, I don't think much of him at all; on the contrary, you and your bosom buddies here go out of your way to give Barry unwarranted demerit BECAUSE HE IS BLACK. This is what I chime in on, not Barry's qualification, in any way, or lack thereof. He is what he his, a garden variety bureaucrat pretending to be the president, as they all are.

Maybe one of these days, you'll get that.



Anonymous said...

But we all know the score with you - Barry gets a special pass because he's black.

What about Clinton? He was never black or even pro-black, no more than other moderate Democrats of his age and time.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

No, my friend, you have it wrong ONCE AGAIN:"

Case you hadn't noticed, I ain't your friend.

"I don't give Barry any extra credit because he is black, I don't think much of him at all; on the contrary, you and your bosom buddies here go out of your way to give Barry unwarranted demerit BECAUSE HE IS BLACK. This is what I chime in on, not Barry's qualification, in any way, or lack thereof. He is what he his, a garden variety bureaucrat pretending to be the president, as they all are."

I may be guilty of not reading your posts carefully. Why would I? Why would anybody? But permit me to summarize whatever it was you wrote above:

Wah, wah, wah,......Democrats not as bad as Republicans (even when they are),.......wah, wah, wah.............blacks not as bad as whites (especially wen they are are),.......wah, wah, wah,....... I don't like Barack Obama but I only ever post here to defend him.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,wah, wah, wah.

Truth said...

" But permit me to summarize whatever it was you wrote above:"

For an illiterate, grasshopper, you did a fine job there.

"Case you hadn't noticed, I ain't your friend"

I strongly suspect that you ain't anyone's friend, but hey I'm willing to be your first.

Mr. Anon said...

"Truth said...

For an illiterate, grasshopper, you did a fine job there."

You're a fine one to talk about being illiterate, given that you're a J-school grad.

And cut out the fake chumminess. You ain't my friend, and I ain't yours. You're just a stupid a**hole who sticks up for black criminals at every turn.

Truth said...

Oh come on now, Big Buddie...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZtiJN6yiik