At the end of a week when many paused to reflect during Passover and Easter ceremonies, a question with no real answer seemed to crash into our culture with all the subtlety of a marching band in a funeral parlor: Why do so many Republicans seem so angry all the time at so much around us?
The fury of some like Ted Cruz is understandable. It’s fueled by his massive ego and outsized ambition along with his personal belief that he is so smart and the rest of us are so pedestrian that he can manipulate opinion to win the Republican nomination for president with the support of the mentally ill wing of his party.
“A real president,” Cruz the bombardier said last week, “would stand up and say on the world stage: Under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran will either stop or we will stop them.”
Then there is the minor league Cruz, the tough talking, totally in-over-his-head governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who is running to crack down on the salaries of teachers, cops and firefighters everywhere. Oh, he’ll also teach Iran a good lesson by throwing any deal out the window no matter what other countries might think. Imagine Scotty informing Angela Merkel of his decision while he wears his Cheese-Head Hat.
There are so many others too. There’s the kid who started the pen pal club with the ayatollah, Tom Cotton. There’s the mental midget from Illinois, Mark Kirk, who went right to the basement for his best thought on Iran, claiming that England got a better deal from Hitler than the U.S. got from Teheran. Kirk, not a history major.
But my personal favorite? In this corner, from Baltimore, wearing the costume of a true warrior, locked and loaded and ready to roll, the former Ambassador to the United Nations, John “Bombs Away” Bolton. He took to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times to declare war on Iran. After all, why waste time!
“The inconvenient truth is that only military action…” Field Marshall Bolton wrote, “can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”
Bolton, of course, is one of the Mensa members who told George W. Bush that it would be swell to go to war in Iraq. Twelve years later things are really going well there.
At least Bolton knows war on a firsthand basis. At age 18 he was in South Vietnam where…OH, I’M SORRY…MY MISTAKE…that was another Bolton. That was Dennis Bolton from Bedford, Indiana, born two weeks before John Bolton was born in Baltimore in November 1948. Two different young men with two different tales to tell.
Dennis Bolton went to Vietnam. John Bolton who went to Yale. Dennis Bolton was killed near DaNang on April 19, 1967 where he served with the Marines while John Bolton finished his freshman year at New Haven.
In 1967, Bedford had a population of about 13,000. It’s a nice small town where Gene Hackman could have filmed Hoosiers, one of the great sports films ever. Ten young men from Bedford were killed in Vietnam.
Indiana, of course, is the state where Mike Pence and Republicans in the state legislature spent the week clowning it up over their lost fight to make it harder for some Americans simply to be happy. Make no mistake about it, their war was against same-sex marriage and they suffered a TKO when the country turned against them in the snap of a finger, an overnight knockout delivered with stunning speed. But I digress.
In 1967, Baltimore had a population of about 930,000. It’s a tough town with a lot of different neighborhoods, some dangerous, many working class, where Barry Levinson hadn’t made Diner yet and HBO hadn’t given us the gift that is The Wire. Four hundred and seventeen residents of Baltimore were killed in Vietnam.
Dennis Bolton’s name is on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. John Bolton’s name was on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times as well as on the lips of some angry, fevered lunatics whose principal policy option is to fight rather than talk.
Obviously, Bolton never made it to Vietnam. He joined the Maryland National Guard to avoid going to Vietnam and, hey, good for him. At least he served.
Of course, he blamed his absence from combat on the politics of the time. On liberals like Ted Kennedy and others, claiming they had already lost the war by the time he was ready to take on the North Vietnamese Army. I guess that explains the itch, the unfulfilled need, the frustration that guys like Bolton have lived with across the decades.
And today, “Bombs Away” Bolton still has a strong desire to light it up. And according to some pundits he's even considering a run for president. Obviously his platform will remain as unchanged as his thinking: Different time, different dangers, different countries but same selfish solution: Send someone else’s kids to fight and die while Bolton and others play with a lit fuse in a world more dangerous than dynamite.