September 29, 2002
Chickenhawk Down

Chickenhawk Down: These guys make me really scared that Richard Cheney is playing a part at controlling our destiny. It's too bad that their site is no longer active.

Suck.com: Daily September 1, 2000: At the mostly sunny Republican nominating rally, last month, Cheney spoke movingly of his reaction to the somber sight of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Every time he choppered into Washington past the military burial ground, Cheney said, he looked upon "its gentle slopes and crosses row on row. I never once made that trip," he added, "without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans." See for yourself: The graves at Arlington National Cemetery are marked with blocky granite headstones - row on row of them.


Jason McCullough for "Chickenhawk Down," and JMM as well. Posted by DeLong at September 29, 2002 09:00 AM | Trackback

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Is that right? I feel like I remember rows of crosses (along with some Stars of David) there from a visit when I was a kid. I can't find any pictures of this on the Arlington web site, but there is a speech by Clinton while he was *there* that referred to "... silent white rows of crosses that surround us ..."

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/holidays/vetsday/pres96.txt (2nd to last paragraph, 2nd line).

I think there might be something along these lines near the tomb of the unknown soldier, maybe.

Posted by: Anon on September 29, 2002 10:20 AM

What a cheap shot. I've walked through Arlington Cemetery on foot, and attended the burial of family there with the guns fired salute and all. Afterwards, if you'd asked me if there were crosses in the cemetery, I'd have said "Sure." I guess that makes me a truly scabrous human being.

So Cheney flies over it and says he is moved by its crosses. OK, that's makes him a bad person too; though obviously not as bad as me because he was looking down from a fly-by, and wasn't up front and personal like I was.

If instead he had said, "Looking down at the, um, ... whatever those things are down there... always reminded me how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans", would his character be deemed much finer for his ability to express gratitude to America's war dead while simultaneously taking care to avert the risk of any factual inaccuracy?

You know, I used to think I was grateful to America's war dead too -- but you've exposed me to myself, now I know I couldn't have been.

Gosh golly ... it's one thing to disagree on policy and argue that. But why people have to convince themselves that those on the other side are *bad people* is beyond me. They only prove that those on their own side are no better in the processes.

I mean, isn't jumping on these gratuitous, manufactured character shots just the low end of the sort of thing Vince Foster was referring to when he wrote "destroying people is sport" in Washington?

And I'm assuming here that this is all true -- and that you aren't just eagerly repeating something somebody made up, like that picture of Bush holding a book upside down. Suck.com was just a web site. (Were you quicker to jump to the conclusion that Cheney is a bad human being than to verify that there aren't rows of crosses in Arlington?)

Posted by: Jim Glass on September 29, 2002 11:11 AM

I'm glad I'm not the only one who references old Suck articles. How I missed those people.

Posted by: Wes McGee on September 29, 2002 11:25 AM

OK, having searched the question of the crosses for a couple minutes I get mixed results.

The Arlington cemetery web site itself corrects Cheney by saying the cemetery has adopted uniform rounded headstones -- however, that was only after WWI.

And there are also plenty of references around to "rows of crosses" at Arlington -- not least including President Clinton's "The silent white rows of crosses that surround us..." (noted in the earlier post) spoken while he was there and presumably knew what was surrounding him.

And from an Army Corps of Engineers publication describing ongoing renovations at Arlington: "The McClellan Gate, a stone monument of large blocks and veneer panels of fine-grained red sandstone, looms over rows of white crosses and granite and marble markers at Arlington National Cemetery....
http://www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/pubs/oldpubs/may1.htm

So I'll stop there, call the matter "unclear" and leave the rest for Snopes.

But that doesn't change anything I said before. If Cheney is a *bad person* for thinking he flew over crosses then I (and Clinton) must be much worse for thinking there were crosses there when walking on the ground.

And somebody who wants to declare someone else a *bad person* for thinking there are crosses in Arlington maybe should first verify the truth of the matter himself, before casting aspersions on others.

Posted by: Jim Glass on September 29, 2002 12:00 PM

Just so we all have the facts straight, the grave markers at Arlington are, as Brad said, "blocky" granite stones.
Faith emblems, such as star of David, cross, Budhist wheel, etc are etched into the blocky granite stone. They do not in any way comprise the shape of the stone.

Is this a cheap shot at the vice commander in chief?

I don't think so. This is a guy charged with tremendous responsibilty and who has taken that position of responsibility and used it to push with single minded focus for war with Iraq.

This war won't be like the last one. Our troops will be fighting in crowded narrow streets, chemical and biological weapons (if Saddam really has them) will be used against our troops. There will be days that make "Blackhawk Down" look mild.

Cheney knows this. He has been briefed.

Sometimes this is the price that must be paid.

Regardless of whether or not this is one of those times, you'd think that, if Cheney was truly given to contemplating the terrible cost of war, he would take at least a couple of hours or so to go on a meditative stroll through Arlington's grounds. Surely the corporate donors could go that long without access.

I don't think that a couple seconds at a few thousand feet above is sufficient to instill the sense reverence Cheney claims to have. His lip service is slick and hollow and should indeed increase ones sense of uneasiness that
we have the leaders that we do.


Posted by: E. Avedisian on September 29, 2002 12:07 PM

So how do you Cheney-phobes feel (scariness wise) about the guy who, while at Arlington said:

"The silent white rows of crosses that
surround us mark the final resting place of men and women of all services, all ranks, all races, all religions. They stand as stunning evidence that our founders were right -- we are all
equal in the eyes of God. "

Of course, maybe you're used to that kind of poetic license from the guy who remembered all those Black church burnings in Arkansas in his boyhood.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on September 29, 2002 01:15 PM

'So I'll stop there, call the matter "unclear" and leave the rest for Snopes.'

His goofy suggestions for war planning, from Schwarzkopf's book, were much worse.

'What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad?'

'The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait.'

'And somebody who wants to declare someone else a *bad person* for thinking there are crosses in Arlington maybe should first verify the truth of the matter himself, before casting aspersions on others.'

The joke is that Cheney, ex-defense secretary and general all-around supposed military badass, probably is less qualified to talk about war than any average infantryman.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on September 29, 2002 01:29 PM

I always thought the markers were white marble from Vermont, Tennessee and Georgia.

Posted by: dwight meredith on September 29, 2002 01:33 PM

I always thought the markers were white marble from Vermont, Tennessee and Georgia.

Posted by: dwight meredith on September 29, 2002 01:33 PM

There are crosses at Arlington, though mostly in the old parts of the cemetary (Civil War). I have relatives buried there.

As for Cheney's oratory anyone remember

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow between the crosses row on row." from grammar school? It's from a WWI poem by John McCrae. His speech writer probably lifted it or recalled it in distant memory. Still, no reason to hurl such venom at the Veep. I thought this was a civil site where people argued facts about finance, not emotional froth. Right?

Posted by: Josef on September 29, 2002 06:26 PM

If only this was Dick Cheney's only crime...

Yet, the fact is that too many American politicians cannot help but conceive this country as of a Christian republic. I don't see why we should be tolerant to attempts to hammer this repetitively into the American collective psyche. These speeches are carefully written, and thus we can hold these people responsible for knowingly disrespecting America's "secularity". Would you accept if a speech included white supremacist allusions? What's the difference?

In democracy we trust...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on September 29, 2002 08:44 PM

I recall the civil war section as having a thicker version of the "blocky stones" and with a different form to the carved name and dates. If there are indeed crosses they are few and out of the way.

What I, personally, find objectionable is that by making mention of the cemetery, Cheney is attempting to associated himself with a powerful image of patriotism and sacrifice.

Since the guy doesn't (apparently) know what the grounds look like from up-close and since he has been within a few miles range of the place for twenty years while enjoying some of the highest positions in government, one can't help feel at least a little cynical about his expression in the quote.

I guess Brad was using this small example to illustrate larger faults with the disposition of the man.

Posted by: anon on September 30, 2002 12:46 AM

Jim: Does it not annoy you a bit to have people like Patrick Sullivan on your side, who try to support you but can't resist undermining the whole argument for the sake of a quick shot of Clinton-bashing?

Posted by: Daniel Davies on September 30, 2002 06:21 AM

Daniel Davies sez:

"Jim: Does it not annoy you a bit to have people like Patrick Sullivan on your side, who try to support you but can't resist undermining the whole argument for the sake of a quick shot of Clinton-bashing?"

I can always count on zero self-unawareness from SOMEONE here. For whom I have two questions:

1. Why is "a quick shot of [Cheney] bashing" legitimate, but not the same for Clinton?

2. Just what does Clinton's: "The silent white rows of crosses that surround us...." register on your scariness meter?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on September 30, 2002 07:31 AM

Jean Philippe seems to be offended by Yankee Christianity:

"Yet, the fact is that too many American politicians cannot help but conceive this country as of a Christian republic. I don't see why we should be tolerant to attempts to hammer this repetitively into the American collective psyche. These speeches are carefully written, and thus we can hold these people responsible for knowingly disrespecting America's "secularity". Would you accept if a speech included white supremacist allusions? What's the difference?

" In democracy we trust..."

To which, I first remind him that there are thousands of crosses (row by row)just beyond Omaha Beach marking the resting places of Americans who liberated people like you from Nazi occupation. So, if you ever get to see the movie Saving Private Ryan, be sure to hide your eyes at the beginning and end.

Those not so squeamish can look here:
http://www.angelfire.com/nj3/littleolme/images/unknown.jpg

Second, since you're such a devoted democrat, isn't it just appalling that we've got all these opponents of Bush whining that he wants to have a democratic dialogue about Iraq just now?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on September 30, 2002 07:43 AM

>>I can always count on zero self-unawareness from SOMEONE here. <<

I never realised Patrick was a student of Descartes' Meditations ....

Posted by: Daniel Davies on September 30, 2002 07:45 AM

This ought to stir the juices:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/020527/5/mnux.html

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on September 30, 2002 07:51 AM

For more of suck's cheap shots at cheney (I would submit that the fact that it's so easy to take cheap shots at the guy says something), here's suck.com's illustrated story of the 5 guys who served in vietnam so that cheney didn't have to:

http://www.suck.com/daily/2001/01/19/

Suck was *so* great. Sigh...

Mark

Posted by: Mark on September 30, 2002 08:50 AM

In amplification of my earlier post, I think Jim has a point; it is just unfortunate for him as a principled and decent rightwinger that there are so many of the other kind for him to get mistaken for.

Posted by: Daniel Davies on September 30, 2002 09:22 AM

'2. Just what does Clinton's: "The silent white rows of crosses that surround us...." register on your scariness meter?'

Clinton wasn't exactly Mr. Military.

'Second, since you're such a devoted democrat, isn't it just appalling that we've got all these opponents of Bush whining that he wants to have a democratic dialogue about Iraq just now?'

.....except that if you don't agree, you're accused of treason.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on September 30, 2002 11:18 AM

Jason, how much more "Mr. Military" could Clinton have been as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces giving a Veteran's Day speech at Arlington amidst the very graves he mentioned?

Cheney, by contrast, was a private citizen and miles away from Arlington at the time he mentioned them.

And when have any Democrats been accused of treason for their not wanting to participate in a democratic dialogue over Iraq?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on September 30, 2002 05:47 PM

This is the sort of trivial yelping that proves that whether one objects to a cheap shot is entirely dependent on which ox is being gored. The irony, of course, is that many of those who never miss an opportunity to cheap shot the current administration used to sneer, sometimes rightly, about "Clinton haters" who would do the same to the past administration, and many of those objecting to cheap shots now relished in them a short time ago. How anybody could actually belong to either the Republican or Democratic Party, without having an overwhelming hourly desire to wash off the slime left from numerous bottom-feeders, is hard to comprehend.

Posted by: Will Allen on September 30, 2002 06:33 PM

>> I think Jim has a point; it is just unfortunate for him as a principled and decent rightwinger ...<<

Nobody ever before has even called me a conservative -- now I jump several ranks to "rightwinger"! I guess all things are relative. ;-)

Maybe now I'll start a blog of my own because I have sure have a great name for one: "The Principled and Decent Rightwinger".

It'll draw traffic just due to the curiousity effect, better than "The Last Unicorn". Thanks!


Posted by: Jim Glass on October 1, 2002 08:32 AM

>>To which, I first remind him that there are thousands of crosses (row by row)just beyond Omaha Beach marking the resting places of Americans who liberated people like you from Nazi occupation. So, if you ever get to see the movie Saving Private Ryan, be sure to hide your eyes at the beginning and end.<<

I don't understand your point. Personally, I feel just as grateful to American Christian soldiers than to the rest of the American soldiers who freed Europe from Nazi occupation.

By the way, since you're talking about failure to be grateful, Patrick, have you heard of the military help the French provided the US during its fight for independence? Would it prevent you to be grateful for that if there wasn't such thing as a cross on top of their remains? (although, I actually assume there is.)

>>Second, since you're such a devoted democrat, isn't it just appalling that we've got all these opponents of Bush whining that he wants to have a democratic dialogue about Iraq just now?<<

Since, you're such a devoted conservative, Patrick, I need to tell you that, indeed, it's precisely the "right now", i.e. right before mid-term elections, just to crowd out the airwaves from all domestic issues, that disgusses most democrats, I think. Not the democratic debate itself. George Bush sr. did have the decency, at least, to bring this up after mid-term elections...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 1, 2002 09:22 AM

heh. They do exist, mate, although I have a tendentious and intentionally provocative post on my weblog claiming otherwise at the moment.

Posted by: Daniel Davies on October 1, 2002 09:49 AM

Let me see if I understand you Jean-Philippe, you believe that issues of war and peace, say, whether you or your son may be sent off to foreign lands to fight and possibly die, is not a fit subject to debate BEFORE an election? Why?

BTW, a few weeks ago it was the Democrats who were clamoring for this debate.

As to your claim not to get my point about the crosses, just what did you mean by:

"the fact is that too many American politicians cannot help but conceive this country as of a Christian republic. I don't see why we should be tolerant to attempts to hammer this repetitively into the American collective psyche." ?

Seems you ought to be positively livid at this sight:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/020527/5/mnux.html

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 1, 2002 04:03 PM

Patrick, you are trying to cast me as an anti-Christian, anti-American, that's not a claim you should make lightly. Yet, it's a typical tactic of hardline Christian conservatives (vis-a-vis Americans as well as foreigners), so for the sake of the debate, I will reply to you.

I consider the Irak issue to be a cooked up issue to begin with (at least in the way it's been dealt with by the current administration). Bringing it up now to Congress is trying to keep alive the popularity boost Bush jr., and to a lesser extent the GOP, enjoyed after September 11, regardless of the many important policy questions that loom on the domestic horizon.

Why the hell am I supposed to go livid at the sight of crosses on top of the remains of French soldiers? I profoundly respect all freedom fighters regadless of their religion, nationality or ethnicity etc. What I don't respect is recuperation of other people's suffering for the sake of political or religious propaganda.

Do you at least realize that many Americans are not Christian? That many are simply atheist? That others are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist etc? How do you square this with your comfort at characterising the US as a Christian republic?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 1, 2002 05:07 PM

Some numbers for the interested reader.

Patrick, how do you feel about disafrenchising roughly a quarter of the US population? Not to note that there is substancially heterogeity in the Christian group... Do Catholics count as Christians for conservatives? :->

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 1, 2002 05:29 PM

The first casualty of this blogwar seems to be Josef's:

"I thought this was a civil site where people argued facts about finance, not emotional froth. Right?"

Not when there's a heaping portion of moral vanity at stake, Josef.

This thread started with a puzzlingly inchoate claim that the (then)private citizen Dick Cheney, was "scary" because of a reference he made to "crosses" marking military graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Immediately it was pointed out that (then) Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Bill Clinton, during a Veteran's Day speech amid those graves, made exactly the same reference to "crosses".

Since then I've made several attempts to get a straight answer to a simple question: What's the difference between the two claims? In response, I've received exactly one attempt at an answer, and that was risible; Clinton wasn't Mr. Military.

What I have gotten in abundance are evasions, changings of the subject, name calling, and displays of moral vanity. Not to mention outright falsehoods such as Jean-Philippe's latest:

"Do you at least realize that many Americans are not Christian? That many are simply atheist? That others are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist etc? How do you square this with your comfort at characterising the US as a Christian republic?"

That is a deliberate falsehood (and "emotional froth") because, not only have I made no such characterization, but it was Jean-Philippe himself who did:

"Yet, the fact is that too many American politicians cannot help but conceive this country as of a Christian republic."

Jean-Philippe also attempted to reverse the tables
with this "emotional froth" about the 25% of non-religious in the U.S.:

"Patrick, how do you feel about disafrenchising roughly a quarter of the US population?", which followed his earlier claim that:

"These speeches are carefully written, and thus we can hold these people responsible for knowingly disrespecting America's 'secularity'. Would you accept if a speech included white supremacist allusions? What's the difference?"

Which itself was immediately followed with Jean-Philippe's paraphrase of a national motto: "In democracy we trust..."

Putting aside that the 1st Amendment to the Constitution specifically protects everyone from "disafrenchising" (Freudian slip?) due to religion, how does he defend HIS attempt to do it to the 3/4 who are religious?

Not that he's all that serious about his motto, as when the majority of Americans are opposed to him (Iraq), he doesn't seem to like democracy.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 2, 2002 08:15 AM

I think that, indeed, it would be wise here to let go of some of the emotional "froth". I don't consider this as an excuse to let go of an important question. This topic is not about finance or economics after all...

I need to note that Patrick does not answer my questions while accusing me of dodging his. Is it that my actual answers (not the ones he imagines) don't fit his purpose, whereas an honest answer to my questions, would make him feel uneasy? I don't know but in the absence of any answer, I am left pondering about this...

>>how does he defend HIS attempt to do it to the 3/4 who are religious?<<

First of all, there are more than 3/4 of the US population who are religious, in the remaining 1/4 are also lumped in people of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist faith etc. Some of these people are more 'religious' than the median Christian...

Where did you read me writing such thing, I wonder? In an other thread I have even defended science teachers' right to present a creationist view of the origin of the universe, provided the teacher presented it as a faith / revelation based. Why? For the sake of acknowledging all students' religious backgrounds, and help them all feel welcome and comfortable in America's educational system.

My point is that even though the founding fathers of this country strongly felt in favor of seperation of church and the government, the fact is that conservative Christians have attempted over and over (and continue to attempt) to blur the borderline.

Bills obviously belong to the realm of the public / government, and yet they have "in God we trust" written on them. How is a non-believer supposed to feel about that? Why is it okay for religion to creep into public life in this case?

>>Not that he's all that serious about his motto, as when the majority of Americans are opposed to him (Iraq), he doesn't seem to like democracy.<<

I have no problem acknowledgoing that about 60% of Americans according to recent polls are actually in favor of a war on Irak. That indeed justifies going it on democratic grounds. But that's not a reason for asking people like me to shut up, that wouldn't be democratic either, to say the least...

I have two worries regarding the democratic character of a War on Irak though. One is historical: the Reich's war plan was pretty popular in Germany at the onset of WWII... It is unfortunaly very easy for a leader to exploit people's fears and frustration in times of uncertainty and/or anger.

Democracy is beautiful but it has some weaknesses, unfortunately. All in all, I generally find myself in the camp of those who would let democracy play full speed till the end. And if you're about the distort what I am saying (I trust you on this one) think about what you would think if your country was about to outlaw your religion, democratically... Or if a party in the US was campaining for the abolition of democracy itself...

My second worry is that in the absence of responsible and free mass media, the American opinion can only be based, on average, on distorted and very partial information. The mainstream media are a disgrace to this country. Fortunately, there are many high-quality responses to this state of affair, and this blog is part of this phenomenon. And I surely can imagine, this can make some people very nervous :)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on October 2, 2002 09:15 AM

Patrick, I made that comment because the conflict between Cheney's image and his actual ideas is pretty big. In the linked article, he puts forth some truly batshit insane ideas for invading Iraq back in the '91 Gulf War; that combined with the amusing comment on Arlington points in the direction of "just another war-happy civilian." Which is a pretty big contrast to the public persona he has assigned to him.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on October 2, 2002 11:27 AM

Jason, you think people have their "public persona" "assigned to" them? Tell me who it was who assigned the one you obviously believe Clinton was stuck with; such an abolute joke as Cmdr in Chief that even liberals couldn't take anything he said seriously?

But doesn't that make Clinton lots scarier than Cheney?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 2, 2002 06:05 PM

You're playing a losing poker hand, Jean-Philippe, with such cards as:

"I need to note that Patrick does not answer my questions while accusing me of dodging his. Is it that my actual answers (not the ones he imagines) don't fit his purpose, whereas an honest answer to my questions, would make him feel uneasy? I don't know but in the absence of any answer, I am left pondering about this..."

Okay, you asked me:

"Do you at least realize that many Americans are not Christian? That many are simply atheist? That others are Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist etc? How do you square this with your comfort at characterising the US as a Christian republic?"

To which I gave a very blunt answer:

"...not only have I made no such characterization, but it was Jean-Philippe himself who did:

" 'Yet, the fact is that too many American politicians cannot help but conceive this country as of a Christian republic.' "

Right there we have evidence that I did not duck your question, but that it is you who is making things up. I can give more examples. Are you sure you want me to?


Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on October 2, 2002 06:19 PM

Patrick, the only thing I am sure about at this stage is that both of us have succeeded in turning this thread into a non-conversation. Basically, we're not up to the standards of this blog.

We're getting too close to breaching this web site's policy. I have too much respect for Professor Delong's generous provision of a space of mutual respect, learning and exchange to waste my time fullfiling your purposes.

Besides, to tell you the truth I have little interest in rhetorical exercises. See you in an other thread... Let me venture to propose you that we both stick to high standard etiquette next time.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Christian Stijns on October 2, 2002 08:20 PM
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