Marshall on Bush’s Moral Cowardice

I think this may be one of the best things I’ve ever read by Joshua Micah Marshall. And that’s saying a lot: With the president descending to the most shameless sort of attack politics…

An excerpt:

The current debate about these two men’s military service has put the spotlight on physical courage. But that really is a side issue in this campaign, if we’re talking substance. The real issue isn’t physical bravery but moral cowardice.

President Bush is an examplar of that quality in spades. And it cuts directly to his failures as president. Forget about thirty years ago, just think about the last three years.

Before proceeding on to that, one other point about the two men’s service. On the balance sheet of moral bravery, as opposed to physical bravery, the two men are about as far apart as you can be on Vietnam. On the one hand you have Kerry, who already had doubts about whether we should be fighting in Vietnam before he went, and put his life on the line anyway. On the other hand, you have George W. Bush who supported the war, which means he believed the goal was worth the cost in American lives. Only, not his life. He believed others should go; just not him. It’s the story of his life.

That is almost the definition of moral cowardice.

We have a more immediate sense of what physical bravery and cowardice are. In fact, when we speak of bravery and cowardice, the physical variety is almost always what we’re talking about. It’s whether or not you can charge an enemy position while you’re be fired at. It’s whether you’re immobilized by the fear of death.

Moral cowardice is more complex. A moral coward is someone who lacks the courage to tell the truth, to accept responsibility, to demand accountability, to do what’s right when it’s not the easy thing to do, to clean up his or her own messes. Perhaps we could say that moral bravery is having both the courage of your convictions as well as the courage of your misdeeds.

As I’ve been saying here for the last couple days, the issue isn’t that Bush ducked service in Vietnam. It’s that he tries to smear other people’s meritorious service without taking responsibility for what he’s doing. He gets other people to do his dirty work for him. Again, that image of McCain calling him on his shameless antics and his look of fear, his look of feeling trapped.

The key for the Kerry campaign to make is that the president’s moral cowardice is why we’re now bogged down in Iraq. It’s a key reason why almost a thousand Americans have died there. President Bush has set the tone for this administration and his moral cowardice permeates it.

There’s more, and it’s all really, really good. It gets right to the heart of what bothers me about Bush, and about the latest Swift boat shenanigans by Rove and Co.

Janus/Onan made a comment the other day that I was getting kind of out of control with the Bush-hater stuff lately. To the extent you feel the same way, apologies for the zealotry. But the man really does have no business whatsoever being president of the United States, and this piece does a great job of explaining why.

One Response to “Marshall on Bush’s Moral Cowardice”

  1. Ian Wood Says:

    Out of the nearly $60 million donated to 527 groups (like the Swift Vets and MoveOn) by the top 25 donors, 97% of it went to pro-Kerry organizations. Of the top 10 highest-funded 527s, exactly one is anti-Kerry.

    And Bush is the “moral coward” who’s getting “other people to do his dirty work for him”?

    Please. Do some research, would you? Challenge your assumptions.

    [Data: opensecrets.org]

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