Not that I've ever been so inclined, but if I ever had the dark drive to
run for office, especially president, I would want to do two things: Go
to college and do military service. The first is least important,
although a Jeffersonian with a natural pride of place might do
undergraduate work at her or his state school: U. Tennessee, like my
surgeon friend in Tennessee (and his father and grandfather before him),
U Mass., Texas A&M, etc. Military service more important, as it has
a ritual quality: You go before your rational function is fully
developed, so you enter the moral ambiguity of war on a leap of faith:
faith in the collective you will enter as a full adult. Common honor,
which common people once strived for. But today only Prince Harry, doing
combat training in California, sees it as a duty.
I am sure they will not ask the contestants (the word “contestants” suggests game show, no?) on Tuesday night in the Dartmouth debate this question: Did you serve? Please answer yes or no. So here are the military records accrued from Wiki and AWOLBush.com of those in the Republican lineup for American president in 2012. No substitutes (Outward Bound, Peace Corps, college, Boy Scouts, civilian working for military, worked on kibbutz). CIA OK.
Mitt Romney: Did not serve. He talked tough at the Citadel last week, but like many of those who did not serve — most dramatically, in the W. Bush administration — he was doing something else when people of his age were being called up; Romney on a mission of religious intent in Lyons, France. There is a neurosis to those called chicken hawks in the Bush administration, like Cheney who took five deferments and did not serve. They spend the rest of their life compensating for the mythic passage they did not make when they were young. Tends to create needless war and mayhem.
Newt Gingrich: Did not serve. Warmonger as well. (Old, antiquated Christendom realms like France and Italy will be dominated by Islam and sharia law, he worries. So what? They’ll come back in a thousand years as Turkey did. Let nature take its course.) Possibly felt he could serve his country better by going to college. Newt, who wants to be vice president, is all about serving his country.
Michele BachmannMichele BachmannWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog Will Trump back women’s museum? Michele Bachmann on Trump victory: ‘God did this’ MORE: Did not serve.
Herman “9-9-9” Cain: Did not serve.
Jon Huntsman: Did not serve.
Rick Santorum: Did not serve.
Ron Paul: Served as a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force from 1963 to 1965 and then in the United States Air National Guard from 1965 to 1968.
Rick Perry: Commissioned in the Air Force, completed pilot training, and flew C-130 tactical airlift in the United States, the Middle East, and Europe from 1972 to 1977. Ranked captain.