Radio talk show host Ed Schultz likes to bill his show as "straight talk from the heartland" and on his Tuesday, January 3 broadcast decided to take aim at Rep. John Murtha for comments Murtha made on "Nightline." Basically, Murtha stated that he would not serve in the military today if he had the choice.
Murtha's interview is here, though apparently you have to register before seeing it.
An audio clip of Schultz's response is here.
Schultz's argument, in a nutshell, is that no matter what is going on, part of supporting the troops is to not discourage anyone from serving in the United States military. I couldn't disagree more, and based on many of the listeners who called into the show during the segments I was tuned in, many of "Big Ed's" listeners feel the same.
Schultz is entitled to his opinion, of course, but I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that he was being contrary and taking an inflammatory position merely to show what a free-thinking maverick he is. As if to show that he's not in anyone's pocket. When he wasn't shouting about Murth giving the right wing ammo to use against the Democrats, he was ranting about how Murtha's comments could hurt U.S. security by discouraging young men and women from serving in the military.
The problem with the former argument is that when the Democrats don't give the right wing ammo, the right wing makes up its own, so trying to avoid that is folly. The problem with the second argument is that it ignores the fact that the Bush administration has violated a basic trust with our soldiers. There is no more precious resource than the lives of the people who choose to serve this country in uniform. When they pledge to defend the United States--with their lives if necessary--our government enters into what should be a sacred trust. And that trust is this: we will not send you into harm's way lightly, we will give you the tools to do the job effectively, and we will take care of you should you be injured or killed in uniform.
The Bush administration has failed miserably on all three counts, as Col. Murtha knows. And Ed Schultz as well, if he's being honest with himself. And if Murtha's comments cause people to think twice before entering the military? I, at least, won't lose any sleep over that. Because maybe the only way to stop this war and bring the troops home is if no one volunteers to die in it.