Look, I know the Josh Earnest interlude on Tuesday, in which the White House spokesman purported to show sympathy with Pearl Harbor survivors while also warning them, in essence, to get over it, makes a great soundbite. It’s clickbait.
We reported earlier on the relevant passage in Earnest’s presser:
Earnest responded by saying veterans may very well feel “embittered,” especially if they personally fought in World War II:
If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered, and I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister.
But Earnest followed up by saying those veterans should overcome those feelings for the good of the country.
“Yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered,” he said, adding:
But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.
Quite honestly, I’m not feeling indignation for the vets. I think the vets in question are big boys – they proved that more than 70 years ago – and they can take care of themselves.
But it’s worth pointing out how Team Obama has once again left the door open to complaint, annoyance, and the worst interpretation of everything, by leading from behind in exactly the wrong direction.
“Embittered,” for crying out loud? What a rhetorically toxic way to address the entire question (i.e., whether World War II veterans would appreciate having the prime minister of Japan at a Pearl Harbor commemoration).
It doesn’t matter if someone else – i.e., a journalist – said or implied it first (that vets might be “embittered”). If you’re in charge, you don’t just go with that. You change the proposition.
Embitterment about what happened on 7 December 1941 is the wrong attitude on 7 December 2016. I feel pretty sure the vast majority of vets haven’t been carrying around bitterness in their hearts for all these years. Sorrow, remembered horror, a sense of gravity and awe about all that changed on that day – sure, those sentiments are there. Respect for fallen shipmates. Reflection and nostalgia about what came before, and all that has passed since. The vivid, powerful memories of the grinding combat that ensued afterward.
For many who were POWs under Japanese control, there has certainly been a reason for embitterment to linger longer. But I suspect that they, too, if they are still alive, have mostly let go the pain of hatred they can do nothing about. Embitterment can’t be slaked or requited. It can only be shaken off.
“Bitterness” is not what our nation’s veterans are about. Embitterment is a human condition that should never be encouraged. If it has to be addressed, in matters of state, overcoming it is what should be lauded with genuine and heartfelt respect.
But better still to not refer to it at all, and speak instead of how the courage and ingenuity of America’s fighting men in World War II earned them and their people the remarkable position they have been in for so many decades now: administering a period of peace in which former enemies became allies, and moved forward together.
That’s what a leader would do.
The Obama administration, by contrast, was simply unable to rise above its progressive-left limitations.
“Embittered” is what indoctrinated leftists are when they see white people. Embitterment is a primary and politically indispensable quantity for the left. So it’s necessary to vaunt and tend it, even when you have no particular sympathy for those who supposedly feel it. (As assuredly is the case with the Obama administration and military veterans.)
For Obama, moreover, force of arms used for political goals never produces anything useful. It’s axiomatic that the methods of decisive maneuver warfare must not produce a politically acceptable peace. (Hence the lunacy of Obama’s policies in Syria and Libya, where the dangerously foolish “responsibility to protect” idea has taken precedence over trying to actually end the conflicts, by securing a political outcome on territory.)
So for Obama, there will be no acknowledgment that American soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines won a military victory in the Second World War so resounding that no nation in history has ever had the political latitude and opportunities the United States had after 1945.
For the Obama contingent, the idea of magnanimity in victory is a meaningless con. The turning of new pages isn’t a fresh start, a clean wind, the beginning of a new adventure. It’s a false promise; and more than that, it’s a distraction from the chronic embitterment we need to get back to.
Don’t look for evidence of conscious planning on the Obama administration’s part; i.e., planning to rhetorically elevate bitterness and downplay the common-sense understanding of what our fighting men achieved through force of arms. It’s not evidence of a plan that identifies the “Obami.” It’s the reflexiveness of their world view. They don’t have to plan, to see everything through their negative, Generation of ’68-era Frankfurt School filters. They just do.
They can only speak from that exotic perspective. We’ve never had an administration so ideologically straitjacketed. Pray God we never have one again. Embitterment is their middle name. But it’s not yours – and it’s certainly not the middle name of our homely, dauntless, noble, citizen-soldier World War II veterans.