By Harry Welty
Ford Bell is a philanthropist
Ford Bell is a philanthropist. He must be. I heard it on public radio when he
announced that he was going to challenge Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic primary
for the U.S. Senate. He’s running because Klobuchar won’t promise to vote to
pull our troops out of Iraq in the next six months.
A philanthropist is a rich person who gives his or her money to worthy causes
because they care about people. Bell disapproves of our war. I don’t blame
him. It was poorly conceived, poorly justified, poorly executed. Its made
America look like a bully and now it makes America look pathetic. George Bush
has spent the past three years undoing his Father’s greatest achievement –
getting America over Vietnam. George the son has brought the specter of Vietnam
back to life.
Forty-one years ago I first heard my Republican Father criticize Lyndon Johnson;
swear at him really, because he was digging us deeper into Vietnam. I was in
By contrast my Grandfather, Dad’s father-in-law, who thought that sending
American soldiers to fight wars on other continents was foolish, also believed
that being a loyal American meant “my country right or wrong.”
Dad didn’t see it that way. Seven years later he was still cursing the
President, a new one, over Vietnam when I was in college and just a year away
from the draft.
Ford Bell, the philanthropist who cares about people enough to give them his
money to make their lives better, remembers Vietnam. Ford Bell wants to pull
American troops out of Iraq in six months because he hates war and wants to end
God knows, that George Bush’s clumsy administration has snatched defeat from
the jaws of victory. People are dying at an alarming rate long after Bush
declared “mission accomplished.” But would pulling American troops out of
Iraq stop the killing? Would it stop the war or would it only stop the killing
of American troops? If this is the only result of Ford Bell’s philanthropy
well then, I’m not impressed. Hell, I’d go farther. I’d say Ford Bell
doesn’t give a damn about the people of Iraq, the people who will die if Iraq
descends into a full fledged civil war once we pull our troops out. It gives a
whole new meaning to the idea of being for “peace.”
Granted, we never should have gone into Iraq. George Bush gambled with Iraqi and
American lives after convincing a majority of the American public that we were
fighting the bad guys who blew up the World Trade Towers. We were persuaded that
“it’s better to fight the terrorists over there than here in America.”
That’s not a very philanthropic notion either because it says its better for
Iraqis to die than of Americans. If God cares about people surely he/she
doesn’t care more about American lives than Iraqi lives. Of course, I could be
wrong. Like the philanthropy of Ford Bell, God could be a much smaller deity
than I was led to believe.
During the Vietnam War people began abandoning my Grandfather’s side to join
my Father’s side. It was a gradual process. War supporters started out at:
“my country right or wrong” then switched to a more pathetic: “America
has never lost a war.” This was the mantra of politicians like George Bush’s
father, a congressman, whose friends could pull strings to keep his son out of
the fighting while dropouts got drafted.
I never liked either of these arguments for “staying the course.” I was
struck then as I am today by another thought. We will make the people we meant
to save pay for our mistakes and our retreat. In Vietnam it was the North
Vietnamese who would wreak havoc on our South Vietnamese allies. In Iraq it will
be an all out civil war between Kurds, Sunni’s and Shiites.
Should a civil war break out after our hasty retreat Ford Bell the
philanthropist can console himself about the carnage by blaming it on George
Bush. I’ll blame Bush too but I’ll also blame Ford Bell.
As much as I wanted the Vietnam War to end I will always be ashamed at the
memory of thousands of doomed Vietnamese desperately storming the American
Embassy in the vain hope for a helicopter flight to America and safety. It would
take a cold heart to wish that fate on the people of Iraq. Ford Bell must be a
different kind of philanthropist.
I’ll be voting for Amy Klobuchar.
Harry Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.lincolndemocrat.com