Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
June 22, 2006

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 junior high.
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 this one.
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