Tuesday, October 17, 2006


They're Losing The Vets, Too

Seems that yet another generation of veterans is re-learning the fact that the Republican Party couldn't care less about them or about Americans in general:

When a NASCAR race is on, the patrons at VFW Post 392 don't hesitate to flip from the American League baseball playoffs to watch. This is a watering hole for military men and the women who keep them honest, a place where people keep name tags on their own liquor bottles behind the bar and still talk about their dislike for Bill Clinton. A full copy of the U.S. Constitution hangs on one wall, across from a bumper sticker that reads "I Love Jet Noise." In the men's bathroom, there is a "Hanoi Jane Urinal Target" in each of the commodes, along with a bull's-eye picture of Jane Fonda in all her 1960s antiwar glory. But you might be surprised by the political views of the folks inside. Hugh McCabe, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who is sipping a glass of white wine with his niece, son and daughter-in-law on a Sunday night, has had just about all he can take from Washington. "Anybody who is an incumbent, vote 'em out. That's my feeling," says McCabe, who wears a red plastic bracelet at the members-only bar here at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post to show his support for the troops. "We need a third party in government called common sense." Though he doesn't declare a party affiliation, McCabe says he voted for President Bush in 2004. He worked on the 2000 presidential primary campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., because they had both served together in Vietnam on the U.S.S. Forrestal, an aircraft carrier once docked in nearby Norfolk. Ask him about the biggest issue in the upcoming election, and he'll say he doesn't care much what Rep. Mark Foley of Florida did or didn't do over e-mail with teenage pages. But he fears his grandchildren are growing up in a more dangerous world, and he isn't happy at all with the Iraq war. "We shouldn't be there," he says. He is, in so many words, the Republican congressional leadership's worst fears come true. And if public opinion polls are to be believed, he is not alone here in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, where the incumbent, Republican Thelma Drake, is fighting hard to retain her seat. The district, which includes parts of Norfolk, Hampton and all of Virginia Beach, has the highest concentration of active-duty military in the country. One in five voting-age residents is a military veteran. With a handful of major naval bases and the constant roar of fighter jets overhead, there is rarely a public event here that isn't preceded by a high school ROTC honor guard to present the colors of the American flag.
This district was gerrymandered by the GOP to include more veterans. That gerrymandering may be what winds up throwing it to the Democrats.

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