Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2003 / 10 Adar I, 5763

Raoul Lowery Contreras

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Consumer Reports

Hey, Gary Hart: Living on knees is wrong | Former United States Senator Gary Hart from Colorado is considering a race for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2004. To that end, he came to town this week.

A hundred people paid $30 apiece for broiled salmon and rice. A few paid $24.95 for his newest of seven books.

Despite seven books, a law degree, a doctorate from Oxford and two terms in the United States Senate, Gary Hart falls short as a candidate for any office, much less as a candidate against George W. Bush.

There wasn't a single Black person in the dinner audience and only one Hispanic, me --- and I am a Republican.

In quiet polite tones, Senator Hart who, like his President W.J. Clinton, never served in the military, expressed grave doubts about the impending military campaign against Iraq. He suggested that the American public would not stand for American soldiers dying in old Babylon. He suggested that Americans would, not might, die in huge numbers if they fight house to house in Baghdad. He suggested that America should continue to "contain" Iraq and its leaders, Saddam Hussein.

He suggested that fanatic terrorist Al Qaeda agents can infect themselves with small pox and then come and mix among Americans spreading that long- forgotten disease, the one that wiped out millions of Amerindians when the Spanish came to the American mainland in 1519.

Yes, Senator Hart said those things in an eloquent plea to maintain the status quo. It was a plea so reminiscent of the Gary Hart of the Sixties and of English leaders in the 30s while they watched Hitler's rise in a Germany that was just as stupid then as it is now.

The man lives in a time warp. He is back to his George McGovern days. Urban fighting in Baghdad, he said over and over, will be costly and bloody. His example: Mogadishu, the bloody battle in Somalia that cost 18 American soldiers their lives.

Hart forgot to tell the audience that those 18 men died because his President, William Jefferson Clinton, sent those men into battle without the proper equipment. They tried to do their job with unarmored vehicles, without armored fighting vehicles, and with limited air support by Blackhawk helicopters, one of which was shot down by ground fire.

It was painful to sit through his 1960s style peace speech. All he needed was a tie-dyed t-shirt and hair down to his pupik. His lily-white audience (myself excluded) was so 1960s, so "Better Red Than 50s Dead," so Susan Sarandon and so Jane Fonda. It was so Joseph Heller. Author Heller wrote in "Catch-22" that it is better to live on one's knees than to die on one's feet.

The evening was a terribly painful flashback. All those peace-people who screamed "baby killer" to our soldiers and Marines have grown up and can afford $30.00 for a dinner for a has-been Senator. Some were feverishly taking notes; some were breathlessly recalling "Hell no, we won't go!"

When Hart related to them that there is a desk in the Pentagon that projects losses of men in combat, he declared that the President is holding back by not announcing what those estimates are. It's called "Force Depletion, Senator."

There are officers who do these estimates once they are given various scenarios to work with.

The only thing wrong with Hart's declaration that we will lose many, many men in Iraq, is that we heard the same thing before the first Iraq war. CBS's six-million dollar Dan Rather told us that 50,000 body bags were ordered by the Pentagon. How many men were killed, Dan Rather, Gary Hart? Fewer Americans were killed in the Gulf War than are murdered in Baltimore in six or seven months.

The question to be asked of Gary Hart and his fellow travelers running for President against George W. Bush is-Is President Bush guilty of malfeasance as Commander-in-Chief like William Jefferson Clinton was in allowing his Secretary of Defense to deny our men in Mogadishu, Somalia, the armored vehicles they needed to do their jobs and live?

Would "President" Hart ever send men into combat, for any reason? Probably not is the impression he left with those 50ish 60s people the other evening. He sounded so Oxfordian, so much like British Prime Minister who gave away chunks of free people to Hitler for "Peace in our time."

There were no Arab Americans there, no Kurdish people, no Iraqi Christians to plead for freedom and liberty from dictator Hussein with candidate Dr. Hart.

There were no Blacks, no Hispanics (except for me) present to not hear how their sons and daughters are steaming for the Persian Gulf to save the United Nations from a League of Nations death.

Dr. Gary Hart was and is a painful flashback to the time when our soldiers and Marines were called "baby killers." Those very people at the dinner I attended for former Senator Gary Hart were the same ones who screamed to soldiers and Marines, including me, "baby killers."

To be around those people now is painful. To consider that Dr. Hart may run for President, however, is not, for just like his alma mater, Oxford, was wrong when it opposed war with Adolf Hitler, he is wrong today.

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JWR contributor Raoul Lowery Contreras is a columnist, radio talk-show host, and author of "The New American Majority, Hispanics, Republicans & George W. Bush" and "A Hispanic view: American politics and the politics of immigration." Comment by clicking here.

02/05/03: Advise and consent by smear
01/14/03: "Stabbed in the Back by Friends"
01/07/03: Minorities will be the first to die in Bush's "oil wars"?

© 2003, Raoul Lowery Contreras