In One Eye

Sunday, July 17, 2005
Two things:

The way the blogosphere is working these days is this: Bloggers agonize over the issue of the day in their little feifdoms throughout the week, and then Frank Rich synthesizes everything better than anyone could ever hope to. Again, today, Mr. Rich doesn't disappoint.
[The Rove/Plame] case is about Iraq, not Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons. The real culprit - the big enchilada, to borrow a 1973 John Ehrlichman phrase from the Nixon tapes - is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American sons and daughters to war on trumped-up grounds and in so doing diverted finite resources, human and otherwise, from fighting the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. That's why the stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-conceived war, not the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative who posed for Vanity Fair.
Meanwhile, governors are finding that they don't have a lot of armed forces within their states.
The nation's governors voiced sharp worries Saturday for the National Guard troops they share with the federal government, saying changes caused by the huge demands of the war in Iraq need more examination ...

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Republican incoming chairman of the National Governors Association, said more attention must be paid to the needs of Guard members returning from overseas deployments, especially younger members who need to find work.

South Dakota Gov. Mike Round, a Republican, said the Guard's recruiting system still works, but the stresses of the war are showing.

He is concerned that troops returning from the war zone may resign if their spouses and parents raise objections to continued service. "The second time around, will they be allowed to re-enlist? That's the question," he said ...

"Most governors would say we're putting more strain on our Guard and Reserves than many people are fully comfortable with," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican.

More than 250,000 National Guard troops have been mobilized for active duty since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, the Army general in charge of National Guard forces.

"You haven't seen these kinds of participation from the states since the Civil War," Idaho's GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said.

National Guard soldiers represent about 40 percent of the U.S. ground force in Iraq.
While many Republican governors are tiptoeing around this issue, at least they've raised it. To be sure, overseas duty should not be within the purview of Guard and Reserve forces. Since it has become so, it's—not surprisingly—gotten much more difficult to recruit and retain people within those forces.

Or, to paraphrase Goldie Hawn in the deathless Private Benjamin: They did join the Guard, but they joined a different Guard. (For more on the heartbreak of overseas duty, take a look here.)