I know in the next few months, there will be human interest stories about vets coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq all over the mainstream media, and I will have to hold my tongue and swallow my bile and put in an extra mile at the track to keep myself from exploding when someone says, “Did you see that bit on Dateline about the guy who lost his legs in Iraq and is doing the Ironman?”. I will be mad for two reasons:
1) These programs will suck. They will be produced by hacks. They will be full of syrupy music (probably with lots of Celtic pipes and female chorus music) and overwrought voiceovers about overcoming adversity from reporters who wouldn’t know adversity if it walked up, introduced itself and presented its card (“ADVERSITY: Kicking you in the ass since Time Immemorial”) and its references. These are compelling stories, and they deserve to be told well. Paula Zahn, Matt Lauer, Wolf Blitzer’s beard and any of the interchangeable Wigs & Voices of Fox News are not now and never will be up to the job.
2) None of the people who talk about the shows afterward with approving voices will think that, hey, maybe if the media had done its job in vetting not only the plans for the War on Terror but the crew who kicked it in motion (and, for that matter, had vetted them back in ’99 back before they could do real damage) and pointed out that the whole thing was being executed poorly and the guys weren’t getting all the support (ie new body armor, training in urban warfare, backup from NGOs who know how to fix broken states, a pantsload of allies to spread the burden) they needed, and that maybe we should finish the job in Afghanistan before traipsing off to Iraq where everyone and his mother knows things will suck, maybe, just maybe…HE WOULDN’T HAVE LOST HIS LEGS IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Of course, it’s easy to spew that out here. I have yet to say that second part out loud, and I know there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when I’m going to have to say it. I hope I can say it without letting my passions getting the better of me, ’cause nothing will lose a fight like a flaring temper. Anyway. I’m off to see Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight. I’m sure I’ll be mad at both Michael Moore and George W. Bush. How’d’ya like that?