Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Viper Spews Again

I should point out that this post amounts to “water wet, sky blue” stuff, but I believe it’s necessary to answer these charges.

This appeared this morning in The Philadelphia Inquirer. I really try to avoid Linda Chavez as much as I can because her foul literary creations are so predictable. However, this to me is different from ganging up on “liberals\the left\progressives\this week’s Democratic bad guy.” Jean Rohe has been thrust into the spotlight for just trying to do the right thing, and you would think she would deserve something of a pass because she’s really just a college student trying to get on with her life and hasn’t even started a post-graduation career yet (not that that isn’t important in its own right).

You would think she’d get a pass. However, you would be wrong.

What a spoiled kid owes McCain
A commencement protester speaks of honor, but she doesn't understand the concept.

By Linda Chavez

It's amazing what passes for courage these days.

The newest hero in the left's pantheon is 21-year-old Jean Sara Rohe, who gave a self-indulgent little tirade against Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) on Friday when he spoke at graduation ceremonies for the New School in New York.
This, by the way, is an excerpt from Rohe’s “self-indulgent tirade,” as Chavez so disingenuously puts it.

Based on the speech he gave at the other institutions (including Jerry Falwell's inappropriately named Liberty University), Senator Mc Cain will tell us today that dissent and disagreement are our "civic and moral obligation" in times of crisis. I consider this a time of crisis and I feel obligated to speak. Senator Mc Cain will also tell us about his cocky self-assuredness in his youth, which prevented him from hearing the ideas of others. In so doing, he will imply that those of us who are young are too naïve to have valid opinions and open ears. I am young, and although I don't profess to possess the wisdom that time affords us, I do know that preemptive war is dangerous and wrong, that George Bush's agenda in Iraq is not worth the many lives lost. And I know that despite all the havoc that my country has wrought overseas in my name, Osama bin Laden still has not been found, nor have those weapons of mass destruction.

That doesn’t sound “self-indulgent” to me. It sounds like a person of conscience is giving a voice to her gravest fears and concerns (though I admit that Chavez’s response is totally predictable).

Rohe no doubt thought she was speaking truth to power when she said, "The senator does not reflect the ideals upon which this university was founded," but what she really demonstrated was appalling conceit.

You can agree or disagree with McCain's politics, but the man is one of the few genuine heroes in public life.
Cue the “tortured-POW-turned-heroic-politician” narrative (sorry, but the Repugs slimed Kerry for his military bravery, so “what’s good for the donkey is good for the elephant,” more or less – and besides, what the hell does that have to do with what McCain said anyway?).

Although the official biography on his Web site doesn't even mention it, John McCain spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnamese prison camp after his plane was shot down in 1967. He suffered terrible injuries, which were not properly treated, and was beaten and tortured repeatedly. He refused early release, choosing to stay with his fellow captives until all came home together in 1973. He has spent his entire life in public service ever since, first continuing his career as a Navy officer and then as an elected official.

Rohe could have chosen to give a substantive speech detailing why she believes "preemptive war is dangerous and wrong" - or as she so categorically put it, how she "knows" that it is. Instead, she took the easy way out by insulting the speaker and throwing out some leftist chestnuts about the still missing Osama bin Laden and weapons of mass destruction. But the former would have required her to grapple with ideas; she chose to take potshots.
I don’t understand why Rohe should have felt constrained to give “a substantive speech” about why she believes “preemptive was is dangerous and wrong.” Rohe was exercising her right to free speech – nothing more, nothing less. The subject matter was up to her, as it should be.

And assuming that Rohe was taking “potshots” (as far as I’m concerned, she wasn’t), is Chavez seriously trying to tell us she’s never done the same thing? I suppose that has nothing to do with why she called her book about how she views liberals “Useful Idiots,” does it?

And Chavez herself has always been so forthcoming and above-board in her own behavior, right?

Rohe has now decided to explain her decision to forgo a speech she'd written for the occasion, one that would have talked about music and her work with children in the New York City public schools. In a posting to Arianna Huffington's blog, Rohe writes, "A certain not-so-dynamic duo of 'centrist' politicians foiled my standard graduation speech and forced me to act. Until just the day before commencement I really hadn't understood the gravity of the situation," she writes.

Meeting up with some students who planned to protest the speech, she got this brilliant idea: "I checked the schedule for the ceremony and realized that I would be speaking just before the senator got his award. And that's when the idea for a preemptive strike began to brew in my little stressed-out brain. What if I tore McCain's speech apart before he even opened his mouth? After reading his speech a couple of times I picked out a few particularly loathsome sections - and believe it or not, none of these actually came from the extensive section where he defends his position on the war in Iraq - and I began planning an attack against him using his own words."

Just before the moment finally arrived, Rohe found herself in the green room with McCain. She introduced herself, "I almost wanted to warn the guy that I was about to make him look like an idiot so that he would at least have a fighting chance and an extra moment to change his speech to save himself. But he didn't even make eye contact when we shook hands, so I figured I didn't owe him anything."

She couldn't be more wrong. She and the others who jeered not just McCain but the president of their university, former senator and fellow decorated Vietnam veteran Bob Kerrey, owe them their very way of life. Men like McCain and Kerrey have endured more than Rohe and her fellow protesters can even imagine so that all of us might enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Tell you what, Ms. Chavez; try explaining your feelings about Bob Kerrey to your fellow propagandist John Leo at (see, as far as Leo is concerned – and I know nothing about him except this column – Kerrey’s psychological battle of dealing with the ramifications of the ill-fated Thanh Phong raid during the Vietnam War isn’t a “real issue”). It’s amazing how quickly boogeymen turn into heroes for you people when it suits your purposes, isn’t it?

Rohe said the commencement was "an occasion that is supposed to honor us above all." Maybe that's the problem. McCain was addressing a bunch of spoiled kids who think they deserve "honor" for having made it through college.
Oh, so the whole school now is “spoiled,” Chavez? And how convenient of you to overlook this quote from Rohe (explaining why she at first didn’t understand the depth of outrage by students at The New School over McCain’s speech and position on the war in Iraq):

Forgive me now if I seem out of touch with my student body, but as a double degree student who had spent the last month in hibernation working on her recital and her thesis, in addition to working with the preschoolers, I hadn't done anything else for weeks.

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity in Washington.
Ann Coulter is easily the most repugnant female conservative currently plying her awful trade, but Chavez is a close second (Malkin is in that mix too). With the appropriate level of fanfare and self-inflicted sense of martyrdom, she has proclaimed herself “the most hated woman in America.” With literary refuse like this, it’s easy to see why.

Update 6/2: This letter appeared in the Inquirer in response a few days ago...

Outrage off target

To paraphrase Linda Chavez, it's amazing what passes for outrage these days. Chavez ("What a spoiled kid owes McCain," May 25) ripped into commencement speaker Sara Jean Rohe for daring to criticize Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) when they both spoke at The New School's graduation. Chavez was especially incensed that a 21-year-old "spoiled kid" would attack anyone with a war record as heroic as McCain's.

Excuse me, but where was Chavez's indignation back in 2000, during the South Carolina primary race, when the same John McCain was blindsided by one of the nastiest smear campaigns in the history of American politics? Among the rumors circulated by Bush supporters against McCain was that his wife was a drug addict, that he had cheated on her, and that their adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually black.

Rohe said nothing about McCain's war record, but the Bush forces certainly did. His five years as a POW, it was suggested, had made him mentally unstable and not to be trusted with nuclear weapons. He was even accused of collaboration with the enemy amounting to treason, and labeled "The Manchurian Candidate."

And what was Linda Chavez's response to this trashing of John McCain and his service to the country? She accepted a position in George W. Bush's cabinet. It's people like Linda Chavez who give hypocrisy a bad name.

Isaac Segal
Cherry Hill, NJ
Thank you, Mr. Segal!

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