Jewish World Review Nov. 4, 2003/ 9 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Wesley Pruden

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When the wise guys aren't very wise | Some of the president's wise guys may not be quite as wise as the president thinks they are.

The wise guys want the president to pander to the Islamists who are so busy grieving over a dirty look in the checkout counter at Safeway or dog feces dropped on the doorstep of a Muslim day care center in Kansas City (perhaps by a Methodist beagle or a Presbyterian pug) they can't find the time to be outraged by the murder of American soldiers in Baghdad.

The White House seems to have decided to cashier Jerry Boykin, the three-star general who described the Islamist jackals who murdered and mutilated American soldiers in the name of Allah as worshippers not of Allah, but of the false god of the assassin.

Another combat soldier, Lt. Col. Allen West, is on the Pentagon's hit list for taking an extraordinary measure to protect his men in Iraq.

Gen. Boykin's sin is that he adopted President Bush-like language to describe the Somali warlord who supervised the butchery of Americans ("the hijackers of a great religion").

Allen West's sin is taking the war on terror seriously. Jerry Boykin offends our domestic Islamic radicals, who you might think would hold no brief for the hijackers of "the religion of peace." But they have made Gen. Boykin their Public Enemy No. 1, and Col. West hurt Arab feelings, and you can see where this leads on the eve of a presidential election year.

Some of the president's gurus, chickenhawks big on war now after having successfully dodged the war of their own generation, are forever whoring after the new thing, this time insisting that the president cashier the general and the colonel to curry favor with the Muslim vote and to hell (where there are no virgins to be passed around) with evangelical Christians.

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The president's "distancing" himself from the general naturally pleases the irreligious punditocracy, which is nearly always pleased when someone sneers at a Christian or scorns a soldier.

Pundits rarely go to church and are almost always too busy to go to war themselves.

However, Jerry Boykin has more friends at church than the White House dreams of, and the Internet is buzzing with the real story of what the general actually said, and how he said it. This is the description of his appearance at the Good Shepherd Community Church in Sandy, Ore., by the pastor, the Rev. Stu Weber:

"No one left the service with any sense of anti-Muslim posture. Everyone left in harmony with the general's consistent theme that Christian people ought to be praying earnestly for their country and their leaders in the conduct of this global war on terror ... Gen. Boykin made his statements as a private citizen, who happens to be a soldier, in a Sunday church service. He was specifically asked to wear his uniform because the service was the church's annual "Patriotic Service." Each year on a weekend between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, the church seeks to honor our veterans who have served to keep our nation free. The service was full of veterans, and some active-duty personnel, many in military uniform. For Gen. Boykin to have refused to wear his uniform would have been an affront to all of them. ... Is there some reason why ranking officers should not speak of their faith?

Our first commander in chief, then an active-duty general, issued on May 2, 1778, the following official order, in writing no less, to his active-duty soldiers at Valley Forge: 'While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to laud the more distinguished character of Christian.' "

The president is under pressure to go 2 for 2 in cleaning up the U.S. Army by forcing Col. West to retire, stripped of his pension, for "communicating a threat" to extract information from an Iraqi thug. The thug is presumably one of the Muslims who the president says have "hijacked a great religion." The thug finally understood the colonel was taking the war on terror seriously, and began, as Pentagon lawyers might delicately put it, to assist in the investigation. He promptly gave up the names of two accomplices plotting an attack on American soldiers.

Battlefield delicacy is nice, but who will speak up for the men he put in harm's way if the president does not? Who will speak up for the president next November if his most loyal constituents do not? The first President Bush got bad advice a decade ago ("your most loyal friends won't like it, but they won't have anywhere else to go"). He took it and his presidency was terminated with extreme prejudice. This is something the president and his wise guys could think about.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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