Cocky ignorance

Thomas Sowell's picture

Now that Senator Barack Obama has become the Democrats’ nominee for President of the United States, to the cheers of the media at home and abroad, he has written a letter to the Secretary of Defense, in a tone as if he is already President, addressing one of his subordinates.

The letter ends: “I look forward to your swift response.”

With wars going on in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a Secretary of Defense might have some other things to look after, before making a “swift response” to a political candidate.

Because of the widely publicized statistic that suicide rates among American troops have gone up, Senator Obama says he wants the Secretary of Defense to tell him, swiftly:

“What changes will you make to provide our soldiers in theater with real access to mental health care?”

“What training has the Pentagon provided our medical professionals in theater to recognize who might be at risk of committing suicide?”

“What assistance are you providing families here at home to recognize the risk factors for suicide, so that they may help our service members get the assistance they need?”

“What programs has the Pentagon implemented to help reduce the stigma attached to mental health concerns so that service members are more likely to seek appropriate care?”

All this sounds very plausible, as so many other things that Senator Obama says sound plausible. But, like so many of those other things, it will not stand up under scrutiny.

What has been widely publicized in the media is that suicides among American troops have gone up. What has not been widely publicized is that this higher suicide rate is still not as high as the suicide rate among demographically comparable civilians.

No one needs to be reminded that suicide is a serious matter, whether among soldiers or civilians. But the media have managed to create the impression that it is military service overseas which is the cause of suicides among American troops, when civilians of the same ages and other demographic characteristics are committing suicide at an even higher rate at home.

Moreover, this is not the first time that military service overseas has been portrayed in the media as the cause of problems that are worse in the civilian population at home.

The New York Times led the way in making homicides committed by returning military veterans a front page story, blaming this on “combat trauma and the stress of deployment.” Yet the New York Post showed that the homicide rate among returning veterans is a fraction of the homicide rate among demographically comparable civilians.

In other words, if military veterans are not completely immune to the problems found among civilians at home, then the veterans’ problems are to be blamed on military service — at least by the mainstream media.

Does Senator Obama know how the rate of suicides or homicides among military veterans compares to the rate of suicides or homicides among their civilian counterparts? Do the facts matter to him, as compared to an opportunity to score political points?

Perhaps even more important, do the media even care whether Senator Obama knows what he is talking about? Or is the symbolism of “the first black President” paramount, even if that means a President with cocky ignorance at a time of national danger?

The media have been crucial to Barack Obama’s whole candidacy. His only achievements of national significance in his entire career have been media achievements and rhetorical achievements.

Perhaps his greatest achievement has been running as a candidate with an image wholly incompatible with what he has actually been doing for decades. This man who is now supposedly going to “unite” us has for years worked hand in glove, and contributed both his own money and the taxpayers’ money, to people who have sought to divide us in the most crude demagogic ways.

With all his expressed concern about the war in Iraq, he has not set foot in Iraq for more than two years — including the very years when progress has been made against the terrorists there.

You don’t need to know the facts when you have cocky ignorance and the media behind you.


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Submitted by bigwillsmall on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 11:21am.

"You don't need to know the facts when you have cocky ignorance and the media behind you. "
Exactly. Which is why George Bush has been successful as our duly falsified president. He has the entire patriotic ignorant american populace riled up about. Cheap gas is the vector to Freedom that the founding fathers were referring to. Not free speech, or standing up for your beliefs. Because those values are long gone and we have a pacifist population complicitly bombing poor people so we can take the oil out from under them cheaper. Kinda like how slaves didn't exactly get their money for their value eh? But does it not matter if it is in Our "Best" Interests? Dare republicans stand for what they really are doing by oppressing those brown people? Oh well the constitution abolished slavery - on US SOIL when you can't get away with it. The whole system is rigged to keep us all producing. Of course we have pacifier Televisions, Video Games, and Beer to keep us from breaking off from the herd (of sheep).

South America is leading toward human dignity in a way America with its self-indulgent capitalist practices negligent of other peoples has never considered.

About Obama vs McCain, it is change vs. status quo. And the status quo I live under has not had a president that could command me in my lifetime. The flag is upside down. The nation is filled with holes in its economy and its constitution(figurative and literal), and oppourtunists all around the world are picking at the pieces. Just watch as americas Anchor Producers are bought out by foreign nationals.

I use capital letters to emphasize my recognition of a body's proper name. If it seems wrong that's because it lost its standing.

Please, Jesus, God, Buddah, Mohammed, Krishna, and every other god in the books and some that aren't, deliver us from our disgrace, and let us live to reflect and change.

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 10:29pm.

"You don't need to know the facts when you have cocky ignorance and the media behind you." Exactly. Which is why George Bush has been successful as our duly falsified president."

Hey's great to see another blogger on here who realizes that George 'the emperor' Bush, has 'no clothes.' He never has and never will.

WakeUp's picture
Submitted by WakeUp on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 12:03pm.

Been a member for less than an hour. Welcome to the boards. What a way to make your entrance. Your reponse to the article is a prime example of what your are alluding to (you know, being cocky and all). YOUR post is full of rhetoric and otherwise a smoke screen. Glad you found a place to get on your soap box and spout off what you wanted to say. But, why didn't you address the points of the article? Oh I know, let's deflect the attention away from the meat of the article and change the subject. Nice try. But a failure.

Now, Obama is ignorant. Who does he think he is demanding a response from the Secretary of Defense. What an arrogant .........

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