Shakespeare, South Korea, and Stunning Non Sequiturs

Josh Marshall invokes the Bard today, bringing us an exchange from Henry V involving two English soldiers that a disguised King Henry encounters shortly before the battle of Agincourt. One soldier, John Bates, doesn’t think it appropriate to question the king’s motives; the other, Michael Williams, is skeptical of the king’s cause, but he fights regardless, because disobeying means rejecting the very notion of being a subject. Here’s Williams:

[I]f the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp’d off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all ‘We died at such a place’- some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

Washington Monthly guest blogger Debra Dickerson brings her own military experience to the table in considering the photos of American soldiers tormenting Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. In a lament of “female participation in male-associated crimes,” Dickerson argues that the military isn’t sufficiently feminized:

…I spent the first few years of my 12 in the Air Force trying my damndest to be one of the boys. I started smoking, drank like an idiot, cursed like a sailor, always wore fatigues and combat boots, didn’t carry a purse. Even wore a man’s watch. Once, when they took me to a club (in 1981 South Korea) which hosted live sex shows, I refused to punk out and leave until after the first ‘act.’ Longest half hour of my life but I was too bought into my macho new environment, the environment which was oh so much more empowering than the misogynist ghetto I was fleeing from, to back off from any of it. I told myself that keeping up with the men, whatever they were doing, was feminist.

Tim Graham at The Corner is complaining that the morning shows “landed really hard today on Iraqi prisoner abuse.” It was “another Bush-bashing morning” in which Don Rumsfeld was “pounded” for an apology.

Graham then loses it entirely, endorsing a stunning non sequitur voiced by rabid radio talking mouth Laura Ingraham, who suggested that instead of Rumsfeld apologizing to Iraqis for misconduct by brutal military police officers, ‘How about Matt and Katie apologize for that lame show they put on every day?’”


Noam Scheiber at TNR says Democrats shouldn’t be so concerned that John Kerry may have been “several weeks late” in running ads to define himself to the American people. “…[O]ne enormous difference between Kerry’s position now and Gore’s in 2000,” writes Scheiber, “is that Gore stayed within the public finance system, meaning he could only spend $9 million between the end of the primaries and the convention. It’s that difference, not whether a candidate goes on the air in mid-April or early May, that would seem to matter for the outcome of the race.”

Besides, writes Glenn Reynolds, Kerry has bigger problems: A group of former officers who commanded Kerry in Vietnam have announced their opposition to his candidacy. The Kerry campaign complains that the group is made up of “Republican shills,” and, indeed, Republicans outnumber Democrats among officers by a ratio of about 8-1. Nonetheless, writes Reynolds, “even without that stuff, I think it was a mistake to use Vietnam as a “branding” tool for Kerry.” He adds: “To young voters it seems ancient history, and to older voters it doesn’t exactly have positive associations.”

It’s safe to say, however, that Kerry’s not going to stop talking Vietnam anytime soon.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.