Friday, March 7, 2014

First "Stupid" Then "A Knucklehead"

Several years back, when it came time to do the college search, our oldest son decided to apply to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  Living in Manhattan, coming from an international private school, and, for us, a family with no military background, it was an unusual path to take.

It generated not a few comments from those unflaggingly progressive New York City neighbors and friends of ours, most of whom had nothing particularly nice to say either to our son or to us as parents.  One especially angry neighbor stopped me on 14th Street just in front of the post office to ask what was going on and she (yes, it was a woman) finally could contain her distress no longer.  Her face red and her stance belligerent, she yelled after me that "only a 17-year old would be stupid enough to do something like that." Shortly thereafter, when our son was a first-semester plebe at West Point, then-Senator John Kerry delivered his own version of what most of my neighbors had been saying a few months earlier. Kerry told a college-age audience that they needed to be smart and get a good education lest they get "stuck" in the military.

Well, our son did do "something like that" and while he's not "stuck in Iraq" he is now a 25 year old soon-to-be captain in the U.S. Army.  He's been a platoon leader, planned missions and conducted training sessions. He handles and is responsible for equipment valued in the millions of dollars.  He lives in beautiful country, but he's 3,000 miles from the rest of his family.  He works long hours with modest pay.

And according to First Lady Michelle Obama he's a knucklehead. 

Oh, it's not just our son by any means, and she wasn't singling out knuckleheads in the military.  She was more sweeping in her characterization of young people as a group of knuckleheads.  I happen to have three in my family.  As Mrs. Obama puts it, my kids would be among those young people who are "cookin' for the first time and slice their finger open."  Presumably, according to the first lady, when my kids and their goofy lot aren't bungling something in the kitchen,  they're out "dancing on a bar stool," drunk enough to fall off and get a concussion I would imagine. And since they're all knuckleheads, they won't have insurance so they won't be able to get their finger stitched up, that is, if they're even smart enough to think to go to the doctor.

The First Lady's shallow humor was a push for her husband's Affordable Care Act, delivered at the expense of the young people who helped send Mrs. Obama and her husband to the White House.  Her hapless remark, like Kerry's "botched joke," has been covered by a variety of sources and there's not much more I can add except to shake my head in the disappointing knowledge that the first lady has a lot in common with my neighbors and friends of eight years ago.  They were merely speaking their minds when they let go with their opinions on young people joining the military just as Michelle Obama let us know who she thinks is stupid.  While I applaud them their honesty, I find it remarkable that these unflattering, critical labels roll so easily off the tongues of, well, liberals who pride themselves on being tolerant and well-educated and smart.

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