Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Media — Rick Moran @ 11:08 am

The strange and bizarre saga of William Arkin endures as the Military Affairs columnist and blogger for the Washington Post continues to offer up explanations for what he really meant in his January 30th post savaging the American military.

Yesterday, Arkin posted an incoherent defense of his position that referred to his critics as “arrogant and intolerant” while furiously trying to backtrack from his original thoughts by lying about what he said in the January 30th post.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t work very well. In fact, a couple of hours after the response to his critics was posted, it was hastily taken down. Someone somewhere at WaPo may have seen Arkin’s response as not only inadequate but insulting as well and subsequently removed the offending post from Arkin’s webpage.

Arkin proved himself nothing if not dogged by posting a second, less inflammatory but still incoherent response to his critics that still contains obvious falsehoods about what he said in the original post while saying that he knew all along that his words would draw a huge negative reaction and that he did it on purpose to get a dialogue started on the issue of the military being put on a pedestal:

I knew when I used the word “mercenary” in my Tuesday column that I was being highly inflammatory.

NBC News ran a piece in which enlisted soldiers in Iraq expressed frustration about waning American support.

I intentionally chose to criticize the military and used the word to incite and call into question their presumption that the public had a duty to support them. The public has duties, but not to the American military.

So I committed blasphemy, and for this seeming lack of respect and appreciation for individuals in uniform, I have been roundly criticized and condemned.

Mercenary, of course, is an insult and pejorative, and it does not accurately describe the condition of the American soldier today. I sincerely apologize to anyone in the military who took my words literally.

Long time readers of this site know that I rarely use profanity in a post but Arkin’s words impel me to make an exception:

What a crock of shit.

Everything he writes rings hollow. I don’t believe for one minute he could have possibly sensed the firestorm of controversy that erupted over his insults. And his “apology” - that he’s sorry anyone in the military took his words “literally” - is a shocking prevarication.

He didn’t just use the word “mercenary” in passing. He used it as part of what passes for humor on the left. It was a deliberate smear - the kind that keeps you in good standing with the anti-war crowd. It is a wink and a nod at the hard left, telling them that he agrees with them but that the mask must stay on so that the slack jawed, goober chewing, shotgun toting, mouthbreathers in the hinterlands don’t get their panties in a bunch:

But it is the United States, and the recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.

In effect, he was telling his friends on the left to take the insult literally while maintaining a certain deniability by making an awkward bon mot out of the phrase.

Where Arkin refuses to back down is in his belief that the American soldier shouldn’t be dissing the home folks - not when patriots like him “support” them:

Those in uniform who think about and speak out about this predicament are rightly frustrated and angry. Many seem to find some solace in blaming the media or anti-war “leftists” or the Democratic Party or the liberals, or even an ungrateful or insufficiently martial American public.

But if those in the military are now going to argue that we are losing in Iraq because the military has lacked for Ssomething, then the absence of such support should be placed at the feet of the Bush administration, Rumsfeld and company, and a Republican Congress — not on the shoulders of the American public, who have been nothing but supportive, even those who have opposed the war…

In the middle of all of this are the troops, the pawns in political battles at home as much as they are on the real battlefield. We unquestioningly “support” these troops for the very reasons that they are pawns. We give them what we can to be successful, and we have a contract with them, because they are our sons and daughters and a part of us, not to place them in an impossible spot

Is it “solace” those men on the NBC report were seeking? It sounded to me like they were seeking an answer to a very good question - a question that Arkin refuses to even try and answer (except by muddying the waters by saying they shouldn’t be asking questions in the first place): How can you “support the troops” without supporting their mission?

Arkin is silent on this point except to say that of course you can be supportive of the men while opposing the war! How dare you even raise the question!

No explanation. Just platitudes about free speech - a curious defense given his scolding of the soldiers themselves for speaking out. I agree with Arkin that it is possible to be a patriotic American and oppose the war and agitate for bringing the troops home now. And while we shouldn’t question their patriotism, we damn well can question their judgement. Of course, they can similarly question the judgement of those of us who support our continued deployment. This is called democratic debate. Perhaps Arkin has forgotten how that works and that the soldiers also have every right to participate.

All of this comes back to the mask being worn by Arkin and many on the left and how it hides their true feelings about the military and the United States in general. At the beginning of the war, we heard much from our lefty friends about how this time, unlike what happened in Viet Nam, they wouldn’t blame the war on the troops. No spitting please. No calling them “baby killers.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that they don’t really think that. They’re just not going to make the political error this time around of getting the rest of the American people angry at them for what they truly believe.

This why it is impossible for Arkin and others to answer the simple question posed by the soldiers. There literally is no answer because the soldiers are correct. But for very good political reasons, most of the anti-war crowd will obfuscate and set up straw men about “free speech” rather than give a direct response. Simply saying that it is possible to support the troops while opposing their mission doesn’t cut it. By putting the onus on the troops for asking it, Arkin tries to shift the focus from the obvious answer - he doesn’t “support” the troops or the war effort - to why the interlocutor was wrong for inquiring in the first place. They are “intimidating” the American people or they are “blaming” the citizenry for our failures in Iraq by asking the question.

We got a glimpse of Arkin’s mindset yesterday from this exchange that Michelle Malkin transcribed from an interview conducted by Fox’s John Gibson on his radio show yesterday:

GIBSON: The general tone of this piece is that the troops owe us, that we continue to support them through the war that they are losing.

ARKIN: Oh, come on, John, that’s your characterization! (Voice rising) I don’t say they owe us anything! I just say that when the troops start to express their dissatisfaction with the American public, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves whether or not the American public is their servant or they’re the servant of the American public. (Voice louder) I nowhere suggested that the troops shouldn’t have the right to speak up. I merely said we shouldn’t put them on such a pedestal that they are above criticism IF THEY SAY STUPID THINGS!

GIBSON: Well, what is so stupid about…[plays NBC segment...Staff Sergeant: "If they're going to support us, support us all the way."]

GIBSON: What is so wrong…


Note that Arkin still makes no attempt to answer the question of how one can support the troops without supporting the war. He simply states it as fact - as if it were as much a part of the natural world as the sun rising and setting. No explanation needed. And his contention that he never asked the troops to shut up is patently false. In his original post, he hoped that their commanding officer took them aside and read them the riot act:

I’m all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn’t for them to disapprove of the American people.

He is clearly saying - despite his caveat about his supporting the idea of “everyone expressing their opinion” - that it “wasn’t for them” (not their place) to disapprove of the American people.

This does indeed sound like he thinks they shouldn’t be able to express an opinion on the subject despite his hollow nod to the First Amendment. No amount of explaining. No attempt to set up additional straw men will change that singular fact. The only thing he can do is apologize - something Mr. Arkin seems intent on avoiding at all costs.

In my post yesterday, I wrote that I was going to email the editor and publisher, asking them to fire Mr. Arkin. I didn’t do it because of this post by Don Surber that made me change my focus. I don’t think it’s necessarily “stupid” to ask for his resignation but I get Don’s point about not stifling debate. Arkin didn’t quite go far enough in his insults to warrant removal. But I don’t think it too much to ask for his apology - a full, honest, and complete mea culpa for the disrespect he showed to our people in uniform.


  1. Well done, Rick. I’m married to a Vietnam vet, one of those ‘baby killers’. This guy makes me sick. I posted the words of “A Soldier” that I have seen on a few blogs circulating around, and I think I orginally saw it on Blackfive. It’s a good post to read concerning how the soldier in the field feels about what’s going on back home.
    Most of all, he owes the military a huge apology for being such an idiot. Because of their sacrifices, he is free to spout his nastiness here.

    Comment by Karen — 2/2/2007 @ 12:08 pm

  2. I have wondered for years at the left’s incoherent “We support the troops but do not support the mission” screed. I cannot for the life of me fathom how they cannot understand how this hurts the troops and enboldens our enemies. Recently, I have heard an analogy that may put it into perspective - especially on this Super Bowl weekend.

    Imagine an NFL team playing on their home field in front of their home crowd. The game is a lopsided score, in favor of the visiting team. The home crowd boos the home team during the game.

    Now ask yourself just a couple of questions.
    Does that affect the morale of the home team?
    Does that prop up the morale of the visiting team?

    Yeah, I know we are in a war that is not being fought in front of the home crowd. In this case, it is even worse. We are fighting a war (game would be the analogy here) on the enemies turf (other teams home field) but the media (game announcers) are not viewing the war (game) the same as the soldiers (players). In fact, the reporting is depicting a lopsided victory for the enemy (other team).

    Don’t you think this could/would affect the morale of the soldiers fighting this war? The military is kicking the everloving crap out of an enemy that resorts to terror tactics against its own people in order to make news reports that our military is losing. Logically, you cannot say we are losing the war without meaning the enemy is winning! What kind of logic is that to the soldier in the field? And someone like Arkin wonders why they think the way they do?

    General Giap, commanding general of the North Vietnamese Army during the Viet Nam War, has stated time and again that opposition to the Viet Nam War at home gave the North Vietnamese continued hope even when they lost battle after battle with American forces. That’s history speaking loud and clear. And yet, no matter how many times the anti-war left tries to equate this war with Viet Nam they refuse to consider the effects of media misrepresentation and home opposition to the situation on the ground.

    Comment by SShiell — 2/2/2007 @ 1:41 pm

  3. Arkin obviously comes from the John Kerry school of Apology Writing: “I’m sorry you’re too stupid to understand me.” A living, breathing apology which means nothing until interpreted by Noble Appointed Scholars.

    Pity I’m too dumb to properly understand his words.

    Comment by Georg Felis — 2/2/2007 @ 1:48 pm

  4. “Logically, you cannot say we are losing the war without meaning the enemy is winning!”

    In guerilla war the normal result is that everyone loses but the people who actually live there can’t leave so they end up in control of the ruins of the country.

    Comment by Drongo — 2/2/2007 @ 2:21 pm

  5. Cop out.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 2/2/2007 @ 2:22 pm

  6. “Note that Arkin still makes no attempt to answer the question of how one can support the troops without supporting the war.”

    It’s like what Whoopi Goldberg said the other night on O’Reilly when discussing her opposition to the war. Something like: I don’t have to explain myself. It comes from my heart.

    I guess that’s where Arkin is coming from too. He doesn’t have to explain himself because it’s all about feelings over facts. It’s just a feeling he has and he doesn’t have to explain it to anyone. GET IT NOW, RICK!

    Comment by bubbaj — 2/2/2007 @ 6:19 pm

  7. I get it now! The Right Wing Nuthouse inhabitants are setting us all up so if we leave Iraq–we won’t, by the way–you get to blame it all on the hateful peace fairies who assaulted our troops with bodily fluids. It’s got nothing to do with American can-do know-how and superior firepower after all, huh?

    You are a real hoot.

    Comment by Schwarzwasser5000 — 2/2/2007 @ 11:57 pm

  8. The notion that someone who wishes to keep our troops in Iraq is also a friend of our military people there is a laughable one.

    This war was a terrible blunder from the beginning, and it is time to cut our losses and rebuild. It is hardly the fault of our fighting men that Bush’s madness has in the end only empowered Iran, so why should they be asked to die for it?

    Comment by Lawrence Crawford — 2/3/2007 @ 9:56 am

  9. I think it is ENTIRELY possible to support the troops without supporting their mission–indeed, I don’t see how this proprosition isn’t pretty much self-evident unless I’m employing a different definition of “support” than some others. However, I think that this is a huge red-herring. The libs don’t just not “support the mission”–they hate the troops and the millitary, PERIOD, regardless of the mission–at least as long as a Republican president is in the White House.

    Comment by Basa Ulaanbatar — 2/3/2007 @ 12:57 pm

  10. Basa Ulaanbatar Said:
    12:57 pm

    I think it is ENTIRELY possible to support the troops without supporting their mission—indeed, I don’t see how this proprosition isn’t pretty much self-evident unless I’m employing a different definition of “support” than some others. However, I think that this is a huge red-herring. The libs don’t just not “support the mission”—they hate the troops and the millitary, PERIOD, regardless of the mission—at least as long as a Republican president is in the White House.

    You are absolutely correct!!!

    Comment by Kathy Burgoyne — 2/3/2007 @ 1:43 pm

  11. Another Grim Milestone for the New York Times

    Long before even 9/11, the Times was banging the “Bushies” gong…

    Trackback by Doug Ross @ Journal — 2/3/2007 @ 1:55 pm

  12. “The libs don’t just not “support the mission”—they hate the troops and the millitary, PERIOD, regardless of the mission—at least as long as a Republican president is in the White House.”

    That is an awesomly offensive thing to say and, in my experience, gobsmackingly untrue.

    Where’s your evidence?

    Comment by Drongo — 2/3/2007 @ 4:46 pm

  13. Georg (#3),

    Arkin’s gyrations also harken back to the Dick Durbin approach to an apology, where he is sorry that others were offended by his words.

    Even though Arkin was being dead serious, surely by now some apologist for the mad/rad left has tried to float the “botched joke” on Arkin’s behalf.


    Comment by Chip — 2/3/2007 @ 7:36 pm

  14. Evidence?


    Comment by Chip — 2/3/2007 @ 7:43 pm

  15. One more time.



    Comment by Chip — 2/3/2007 @ 7:45 pm

  16. “Gobsmackingly”? What the heck is “Gobsmackingly”? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Oh, and my “evidence?” Have you been living in a cave for the last 40 years? Why not ask for my “evidence” that the Pope is Catholic or that Sun rises in the west and sets in the east? Would you like me to fax you a picture to prove that bears crap in the woods?

    Comment by Basa Ulaanbatar — 2/4/2007 @ 9:13 am

  17. “Oh, and my “evidence?” Have you been living in a cave for the last 40 years?”

    So, no then, you just look at a small sample and extrapolate it to everyone, demonising half of the population of the country as traitors.

    Comment by Drongo — 2/4/2007 @ 10:22 am

  18. Aren’t they, though?

    Comment by Basa Ulaanbatar — 2/4/2007 @ 1:26 pm

  19. Drongo,

    If the troops are being used as political pawns, it is only because the anti-war left is so willing to use them as such.

    As evidence to support my observations, we need look no farther than Ted Rall’s traitorous exploitation of Pat Tillman’s death. (Rall is syndicated in well over 100 newspapers.) Not only did the left have no problem with Rall’s ridicule of Tillman’s death, but they quickly elevated Tillman posthumously to anti-war poster boy after it was rumored Pat had been critical of the CIC.

    Despite all this treasonous behavior within their own ranks, far too many on the left still have the gall to self-righteously spew the chickenhawk fallacy and smugly sneer at those who display “support our troops” magnets.


    Comment by Chip — 2/4/2007 @ 10:30 pm

  20. Arkin really is a contemptible worm. But his attitude is pretty mainstream for the Democrat party. We need only consider the positions held by a few prominent Democrats to see this is so.

    Charlie Rangel (D-New York, Chairman/House Ways & Means Committee) recently expressed his belief that no young person in their right mind would serve in Iraq — only economic desperation could force someone to enlist. (Translation: no one serving in Iraq is motivated by patriotism).

    John Kerry (D-Mass., Democrat candidate for President 2004) advised an audience of college students that if they were smart and studied hard, they wouldn’t end up stuck in Iraq. (Translation: the military is a dumping ground for society’s losers).

    Bill Clinton “loathed the military.” (No translation necessary).

    If Arkin’s journalism career peters out, he will no doubt have a bright future as a Democrat politician.

    Comment by GnuCarSmell — 2/6/2007 @ 11:03 pm

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