02. August 2004 · Comments Off on Hugh Responds · Categories: Military, Politics

Hugh Hewitt has responded to my last post, and his response is pretty good.

First, he points to an interesting article from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Here’s the section that he quoted:

A series of polls by the Pew Research Center for the Public and the Press showed that Bush leads Kerry among men with military experience, 49 percent to 40 percent. Other polls gave Bush an even larger advantage.

A Battleground Poll conducted in late June by Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and Republican surveyor Ed Goeas showed that likely voters among active military and reserve personnel and veterans favored Bush over Kerry, 52 percent to 44.

He didn’t quote this portion, though:

Research on the other 85 percent of military personnel – the junior enlisted service members – suggests that group is “pretty much mainstream American, not disproportionally conservative, not disproportionally Republican,” Segal said.

Guess where I fall? I’m not an officer, nor am I a senior enlisted troop. I work for a living and I work with this group of people who comprise over 85% of the military. So what I said, based on my own personal experience, is true. I’ll also note that Hugh’s statement never said anything about voting, but how an overwhelming majority of active duty feel. If this poll (taken from the same article Hugh cited) and my personal experience is true, then an overwhelming number of active duty people don’t feel that they’re 100% against the Democratic Party. Some lean Democrat, some lean Republican, but most don’t care either way.

But the career personnel are more likely to vote,

That’s also true, but I think that’s changing, at least for this election.

The article also included these interesting factoids:

However, Lake said there was some anecdotal evidence Kerry does better among military wives.

Last September, a Battleground Poll showed Bush’s approval rating among military family members at only 36 percent.

Peter Feaver, a professor at Duke, said Kerry is making inroads among the families of military personnel, particularly the kin of Guard and Reserve members deployed to Iraq.

That’s generally true from what I’ve seen.

Although the military has done little in the past to encourage people to vote, the Pentagon launched a major campaign this year to help the troops, particularly those deployed overseas, register to vote and to apply for absentee ballots.

That’s utter horseshit. As long as I’ve been in, there has always been a big push to get as many people to vote as possible, even in the off-years. We have people who act as Voting Representatives. They go around, encourage people to register to vote and help them do so. I’ve never seen is anyone tell us how to vote, not even implicitly. I guess it’s understood that we’re all going to vote Republican anyway, because we can’t help it.

Now I will quote from and respond to Hugh:

But it seems to me he’s trying to speak for his colleagues in the military far more than I am

I speak for my colleagues, because that is one of the things I’ve always done on this website. I speak for myself, but since no one else I know has one of these things, I consider it my responsibility to represent the point of view of the people I work with. Other people with different points of view, from different services and occupations within those services, can represent themselves as they see fit, but this point of view is mine and those I know, based on how we see it.

But let me again quote what Hugh said the first time, when a Marine, in uniform, said he was 100% against Kerry and 100% for Bush:

This is how the overwhelming number active duty military in this country feel about the Democratic Party and its Michael Moore-loving elites.

Based on the article Hugh himself quoted, this is not how the overwhelming number of active duty military in the country feel about the Democratic Party (not Kerry, but the entire Democratic Party). If that were the case, then an overwhelming number of active duty military are 100% against roughly half of this country’s voting public. Again, the first quote, where he builds upon his initial supposition:

The would-be commander-in-chief doesn’t have the respect of the men and women he seeks to command. George W. Bush does. So whose judgment do you trust when it comes to which man is better equipped to lead the military and guide the war?

The only thing I can say to that is to take that statement and use another group who are apparently the lapdog of a political party: African-Americans. The current President doesn’t have the respect of the people he is supposed to lead. John Kerry does. So whose judgment do you trust when it comes to which man is better equipped to lead this country?

I can extend that example out to roughly half of this country’s populace, perhaps more. If recent polls are any guide, than an overwhelming majority of Americans currently disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Aren’t the American people the best judge of who is doing a good job and of who is leading them? Then again, why should we listen to them? Shouldn’t we use our own personal judgement, instead of jumping on the bandwagon and going along with the crowd?

But we in the military aren’t average American citizens. We’re their servants, which makes this situation a bit more delicate than usual. Your own assertation refutes your advice to the American people to trust our judgement, since we’re apparently overwhelmingly Republican no matter what. If what you say is true, then we’re not a neutral party, but instead a special-interest group acting out of personal interests and desires. Since we’re as partisan as the next special interest group, then our judgement is automatically suspect, because we’ve just declared that we have a personal stake in the election and we’ve chosen our side. If that is the truth, then the military obviously can’t be held up as an example of unbiased and professional judgement. We’re as trustworthy as any other special-interest group, and our opinions should be treated as lightly as theirs.

Back to Hugh’s most recent post:

But he should ask himself if the Dems are as widely loved or not-loved as the President in military circles, why so much effort by Gore-Lieberman in Florida in 2000 to toss out the votes of military serving overseas? That’s the clincher in any argument over how the active duty military views the Democratic Party: When push came to shove, the Dems wanted the military’s ballots tossed out. Draw your own conclusion on which way the military votes.

That’s actually an interesting case, because it confirms what an overtly partisan military brings upon itself. Let’s shelve the matter of whether the military automatically votes Republican, and instead focus on the perception that we do. The military overseas absentee ballot debacle is a good illustration of what this perception brings about.

Now, I can’t make heads or tails of what happened in Florida. There seemed to be enough chicanery to spread around, but from what I’ve been able to gather from Googling the event, here’s what I think happened:

First, hundreds of overseas absentee ballots were tossed out by state election officials because they didn’t bear a postmark, which State law required. Among these non-postmarked ballots were military ballots, which in the past had been thrown out, but with the scrutiny of the 2000 election, they were given a closer look. Federal law stated that military absentee ballots were exempt from the postmark rule, and since people were actually paying attention this time around, the military absentee vote became an issue. Here’s an Op-Ed I found describing the situation and what happened:

Last Friday, some 1,400 overseas military ballots — 40 percent of all those cast — were excluded from the official count, many because they lacked postmarks as required by Florida law. Since the military vote was breaking for Texas Gov. George W. Bush by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, those disqualified absentees potentially could have added 200 to 300 more votes to his current 930-vote lead over Mr. Gore — which could be crucial to a Bush victory if the ongoing hand counts of ballots are allowed to stand.

The county vote counters were scrupulous about checking for postmarks thanks in large part to a five-page memo distributed last week by a Tallahassee lawyer who is assisting with Democratic election lawsuits in Florida. It outlined techniques on protesting absentee votes and included a section specifically on challenging postmarks.

Perhaps not surprisingly, counties won by Mr. Gore threw out more military overseas ballots (60 percent) than did counties won by Mr. Bush (29 percent). In one extreme example, Democrat-controlled Broward County disqualified 304 of its 396 overseas ballots.

What was obviously going on was political chicanery, but it underscores an important point: since the military is apparently openly Republican and is perceived to vote that way by everyone, then they’ve set themselves up for this kind of nonsense. If we’re “100% against the Democratic Party”, then we’ve declared ourselves to be hostile towards the Democrats who count our votes–Democrats who can suddenly decide to apply a strict interpretation of the law to our votes and a looser interpretation to other votes. And who can blame them? We’re “100% against” them.

From what I also gather, their was some tit-for-tat dealing between Republicans and Democrats over the hand counting and the absentee situation. The hand counting was apparently tilting heavily toward Democrats and the Republicans were crying foul because there was some shady work supposedly going on there, but the Republicans were no angels, either. For example, there was evidence that Republican election officials had improperly handled absentee votes. There was also evidence that many absentee ballots were missing signatures and what-not, which further confused the situation because of the overblown rhetoric swirling around at the time.

I also found this article covering Democratic reaction to the military absentee ballot situation:

Leading Democrats, including vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, are calling on Florida canvassing officials who have tossed a number of military absentee ballots out because they did not have postmarks to reconsider their decision and count them after all.

Lieberman, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, said Republicans had managed a public relations victory over Democrats in general because of the decision by some county election officials to disqualify over 1,400 military absentee ballots.


“My own point of view, if I was there, I would give the benefit of the doubt to ballots coming in from military personnel, generally,” Lieberman said.

Of the local canvassing boards, he continued, “if they have the capacity, I’d urge them to go back and take another look [at accepting the ballots], because again, Al Gore and I don’t want to ever be part of anything that would put an extra burden on the military personnel abroad.”

Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., joined Lieberman yesterday to urge county election officials to reconsider their decision.

“I believe that we ought to bend over backwards to have everybody’s vote, and particularly those men and women who are serving us in uniform in high-risk areas,” Graham told NBC’s “Today Show” co-host Katie Couric.


Meanwhile, Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth, a supporter of Vice President Al Gore, advised counties that they “should count” overseas ballots, even if they bear no postmarks.

“No man or woman in military service to this nation should have his or her vote rejected solely due to the absence of a postmark,” Butterworth said yesterday in a letter to the state’s 67 counties, according to an Associated Press report.

County election officials of both parties have said such non-postmarked military ballots have been discarded in similarly large numbers in past elections, but that more attention has been given them this year because of the closeness of the presidential race.

My point remains, though. If everyone assumes we’re always going to vote Republican, then we’ve made ourselves the target of people that we’re “100% against”. Our votes could get tossed out by unscrupulous Democratic officials. What’s worse, what about those in the military who don’t vote Republican? Their votes get tossed out too because we’re apparently all the same, and have no problem advancing the perception that we’re all Republicans, even when we’re not.

This obviously doesn’t excuse the Democrats who engage in this sort thing, but like I said, who can blame them? The conservative military, speaking on behalf of us all, has declared them to be their enemy and by jumping headfirst into partisan political waters, they’re screwing us all over.

Update: So, as I was saying…

To wrap this monster up, I want to say that by openly declaring who we’re for and against, we’re possibly introducing doubt into the citzenry’s mind about our loyalties. The people of this country expect us to serve the Constitutional government, and by extension all of them, with all the dedication we can muster, no matter who is in charge. That’s why we have rules that say you can’t attend a political rally in uniform, that you can’t publicly campaign for candidates, and that you can’t run for Congress. That’s why it’s imperative that we not allow ourselves to be used as a politician’s or pundit’s prop to advance their own agenda, whether you agree with that particular agenda or not. We have to maintain the image of neutrality. Yes, I know it’s just for appearance’s sake, but appearances matter in politics, and it doesn’t take much to introduce doubt into the citizenry’s mind about our fealty to the government and to question just which master we serve. Once that doubt exists, it opens the door to things that are much worse, and you can’t just say, “Well, I may be a conservative, and though I donate large amounts of money and time to the Republican Party and hate Democrats, you can trust me to do my job no matter what.” Tell me, why should anyone take you at your word? Why should anyone trust you? You just told half the citizenry that you’re against the people they elected to represent them, which means that you just told half the citizenry that you’re against them. You don’t just serve the people you agree with. You serve all of them, and you have to keep that in mind before you try your best to destroy our credibility with the half you don’t agree with.

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