Thursday, February 16, 2012

A little presidential history

Do you realize that (barring a last-minute miracle for Ron Paul) this year will mark the first presidential election since 1924 in which neither candidate has seen military service?

There was a spate of service-less elections in the early twentieth century, but those were all contests between men who had come of age in the late 1800s, when the military was mostly composed of professional soldiers and it was unusual for a young man to serve and then go on with his life.

Heck, the latter half of the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth were dominated by veterans of the War Between the States and the Second World War, respectively. Every president between 1945 and 1980 was a combat veteran. (To his credit, President Reagan served but was not allowed into combat service.)

Newt, Rick, Mitt and Barack are all guys who had ample opportunity to serve their country and instead stayed home safe. Embarrassing. I hope it's not going to be a trend. The willingness to place one's body between one's home and danger is a crucial part of what makes a good statesman. And a man who is going to be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces ought to have done his time in those forces.

Disclaimer: I never served myself. I paid a visit to an army recruiter in high school, but was turned down because of my childhood asthma, and I never made any further effort to enlist. To my lasting regret.

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