Mark Shields: When The Chickenhawks Flock They Are Clucking About Only Putting Your Kid At Risk


“It is just a helluva a lot easier to talk tough when it isn’t your son, or your daughter who’s in harms way.”


By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (8/3/17)

In doing some other research I stumbled across a few comments by PBS commentator Mark Shields during a conversation with David Brooks of the New York Times and moderator Jeff Greenfield during the midst of the 2016 campaign that are worth noting.

Shields is one of the old lions of the media and his comments at the very tail end of the broadcast are well worth considering in the midst of the carnival self-promotion of these Trump years. His comments have been lightly edited for conciseness and clarity. You can watch the original comment at the 1:10:43-mark of the video linked below:

“The question that is too often asked by our campaigns … Are you better off than you were four years ago and the question instead should always be, are we better off. I mean, are the strong among us more just and the weak among us more secure?

“It hit me as we were about to go to war in Irag and the congress was voting on it an assistant and I talked to 535 congressional offices and we asked only one question: Does the member of congress or the senator have a child in the enlisted ranks of the United States military? Out of 535 there was one: [then] Senator Tim Johnson, Democrat of South Dakota’s, son Brooks was in the 101st Airborne; a sergeant.

“And why do you say enlisted? Because those are the people who die. Admirals don’t die. Generals don’t die. Colonels don’t die. Sergeants die. Lance corporals die. PFC’s die.”

He goes on to note what nobody with our various military adventures is willing to bring up any more:

“We are about to have another presidential election where none of them [candidates] has served in the military. And believe me, it is just a helluva a lot easier to talk tough when it isn’t your son, or your daughter who’s in harms way.”

During World War II, Shields recalls that his two home state senators were both republicans. Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge actually resigned from the senate to enlist as a tank commander in North Africa. He was the first sitting US senator to resign his seat to enlist in the military. The other Massachusetts senator, Leverett Saltonstall’s son, Peter, left Yale to enlist in the military and died in the Pacific theater of war. His daughter, Emily, served in the military as a WAVE. As a progressive republican, Saltonstall, a WW I veteran, would be the only republican member of the senate to later vote to censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

The Kennedy family’s eldest son, Joe Jr. died in Europe when his bomber crew was shot out of the skies on a bombing raid. His younger brother, JFK, nearly died in the PT 109 incident and saved a crew member.

George H.W. Bush, whose father had been ambassador to England, flew fighter combat missions in the Pacific and was shot down and rescued by a submarine crew.

But that was then and now our current tough talking chicken hawk political leaders are a more craven bunch.

Shields concludes noting:

“I believe devoutly that every American at the age of 18 can give two years to his or her country. There’s so much to be done beyond the military to make ours a better, fairer, more humane country.”

Link to 75-Minute Video