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 November, 2009


 Countering the Cheney's Cheapshots

The Fifth Deferment Speaks

Next May will mark the 40th year since my return from Vietnam.

I wasn’t a volunteer. President Johnson ordered me there. I complied.

Nobody ever explained exactly why I was being sent there. I just read my orders, and I dutifully followed them.

I was sent to the other side of the world to secure the basic human rights of people about whom I knew little – while there were people of my race still struggling to secure their own rights.

But in May of 1969 a call to serve my country meant I had to put my personal feelings about equality aside.

I never openly protested that war. Yet I’ve never fully shaken the feeling that I’d been nothing more than a faceless number on a list. My young life was put in jeopardy to suit some vague and unachievable goal.

Every war, every skirmish, this country has engaged in since, has made me respect the thousands of would-be faceless names on somebody’s list.
They deserve our utmost respect.

When, on October 29th, President Obama visited Dover AFB in Delaware to pay a personal tribute to 15 service members and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents who had died a few days before in Afghanistan, he was trying to say these were certainly not “faceless names on a list.”

They were Americans who gave their lives in a war that was not of their making.

Obama’s single salute in front of a flag draped coffin should have never been the subject of scorn. Predictably, it was.

Scorn, I’ve come to learn, is the only substitute America’s right wing has to offer these days.

First, Liz Cheney, the daughter of a man who, unlike me, failed five times to heed this country’s call to duty, issued her analysis.

“I don't know why he went to Dover. I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House press pool and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around. It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do it,” she told a right wing radio talk show host.

Liz Cheney’s dad, Vice-President Dick Cheney, never showed up with or without cameras at Dover AFB. He never paid tribute to this country’s fallen warriors in person.

In fact, on Cheney’s fifth draft deferment request, he was granted a hardship because his wife was pregnant with - Liz Cheney.

The deceit doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

It’s true that President Bush paid visits to the families of military personnel who had lost family members in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would never doubt his sincerity in that regard. But he, like Cheney, never visited Dover.

Cheney’s daughter, or as I’d like to call her “The Fifth Deferment,” however, is gaining quite the reputation for being a feckless flamethrower.

Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, deserves weekly (and even daily) derision.

He took “The Fifth Deferment’s” attacks on Obama and he intensified them during his 30 minute, serious-question-free interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

“It was a photo-op - precisely because he's having so much trouble with this whole Afghanistan dithering," Limbaugh told Wallace.

His use of the word “dithering” comes straight from the mouth of Dick Cheney.

Cheney’s assertion that Obama is “dithering” when it comes to developing an Afghanistan strategy was laughable.

He’s one of the prime forces behind two seriously flawed war strategies – including Afghanistan.

He’s in need of finding a shadow, and staying in it.

As for Limbaugh, he too, has had a couple of draft deferments of his own. Back in the 1960’s, it didn’t seem that he was a concerned about “liberty and freedom” as he is today.

“Everyday you get up and there's a new potential threat to liberty and freedom being launched by this man and his administration,” he told Wallace.

But here’s the kicker. “Some days I feel like in the trenches of a war,” to which I’d have to ask, HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

Edward A. Owens is a three time Emmy Award winner and 20 year veteran of television news. E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net