Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Martial Envy

Author Garrison Keillor wrote a piece in Salon today saying the United States should amend the Constitution to require presidents to serve in the military for at least two years. It's a charming sentiment, but a horribly misguided one.

A reader responding to the column nailed it by accusing Keillor of having "martial envy." Whenever something bad happens, many of us long for a strong man wearing a uniform to come and fix it for us. This may even be more pronounced among civilians who only know military life as an abstraction.

The concept of military service commands almost universal respect because it involves self-sacrifice for a greater collective good. Keillor seems to think this would instill an everyman's sense of humility in our presidential hopefuls. Of course that's not always how it works out.

Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt didn't serve in the military. Richard Nixon and George W. Bush did serve (except when he didn't).

Need we say more?

3 comments:

Kilian said...

I agree Greg, that article is way off base even for Mr. Keillor who has been hanging out at Lake Wobegon far too long anyway.

Greg said...

I actually sort of like Keillor's Minnesota nice schtick in small doses, which is why his thesis bugged me so much.

Kilian said...

Maybe because I'm in the midwest and I hear it all the time it bugs me but yeah I agree, when I'm on a long drive I almost always leave Prairie Home Companion on if I find it on the dial. He may be a liberal but he's got as much of a taste for "the way it was" as Ronald Reagan.