Chris Matthews: West Point ‘Enemy Camp’
Along with serious discussions about President Obama’s newest new Afghanistan strategy, a minor brouhaha has errupted over Chris Matthews’ labeling West Point “the enemy camp” last night. Jeff Porter has the scoop at Newsbusters:
“It seems like in this case, there isn’t a lot of excitement,” Matthews said. “I watched the cadets, they were young kids – men and women who were committed to serving their country professionally it must be said, as officers. And, I didn’t see much excitement. But among the older people there, I saw, if not resentment, skepticism. I didn’t see a lot of warmth in that crowd out there. The president chose to address tonight and I thought it was interesting. He went to maybe the enemy camp tonight to make his case. I mean, that’s where Paul Wolfowitz used to write speeches for, back in the old Bush days. That’s where he went to rabble rouse the “we’re going to democratize the world” campaign back in ’02. So, I thought it was a strange venue.” [emphases Porter’s]
At Scared Monkeys, we get, “Are you kidding me? So this is what liberals in the MSM think our our fine military institutions like United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and the United States Air Force Academy. They think that there very place that creates the leaders of the United States that defend their rights of Freedom of Speech, the enemy. Unreal.”
JammieWearingFool adds, “Well, actually maybe it’s not all that hard to believe since to Matthews and his ilk the military is the enemy.”
Erick Erickson chimes in with, “Classy.”
First, Matthews saying mildly stupid things in his stream-of-consciousness analysis is hardly news at this point. It’s what he does. He’s a bright, likable guy but he’s very emotional and gets caught up in the moment.
Second, even within that context, Matthews isn’t using the word “enemy” in a literal sense. People in politics and sports have long used military metaphors to describe clashes with the other side. They “put on their war paint” and “go to war” and “take no prisoners.” It’s silly, of course, but it’s a natural part of the lingo.
And, like it or not, the United States military in general and West Point in particular are considered to be naturally hostile to Democratic presidents. The degree to which this is the case is wildly overstated; soldiers are professionals, tend to respect their commander-in-chief, and trained to obey orders. But it’s undeniable that Reagan and the Bushes were held in higher esteem in military circles than Carter, Clinton, or Obama. Republicans are presumed to both have more admiration for the military whereas Democrats are presumed to be somewhat hostile. Republicans are more supportive of providing the military the tools it asks for, while Democrats tend to favor of cutting defense spending so as to support social welfare programs. And Republicans are more deferential to military leadership and customs while Democrats tend to push for social change.