The campaign ad for Retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath's run for Congress in Kentucky is inspiring: a woman who beat all the odds and covered herself in glory, standing against the cowardly Mitch McConnell's hand-picked wormtongue in a state where the GOP stands ready to snatch away health-care from thousands of voters.
It's part of a new Democratic strategy of fielding candidates who can be painted as "war heroes," "job creators" and "business owners."
But as Corey Robin writes, Americans have a long history of sidelining actual war-heroes in favor of chickenhawks who used their family money to dodge service. Not just Trump! See also GWB, Clinton, etc (a good counterexample: Duckworth).
In the most spectacular face-off’s between a genuine war hero and a draft-dodger-ish type—Clinton v. George H.W. Bush in 1992, George W. Bush v. John Kerry in 2004—it was the draft-dodger-ish type that won. (And if you think the same rules don’t apply at the congressional level, just google the names Max Cleland and Saxby Chambliss. Though as Matt Countryman pointed out, Tammy Duckworth is an excellent counterpoint to my claim.)
Despite our sense that Americans respond best to warriors and war heroes, it may be the confidence man who commands the most confidence. Something has shifted in this country. Whether it’s the passing of World War II as a touchstone of the political imagination or the end of the Cold War or the rise of neoliberalism, the elections of the last several decades have shown that while the consultant class and the image-makers continue to fantasize about an electorate cobbled together from a Spielberg film and a Sorkin script, the citizenry is far more taken by the conman and the scam artist than they are by the virtuous soldier.
In America, who’s more likely to win an election: a scam artist or a war hero? [Corey Robin]
(via Naked Capitalism)
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