Meet the Chickenhawks

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The following information was taken from the website of the New Hampshire Gazette,

A chickenhawk is a term often applied to public persons — generally male — who (1) tend to advocate, or are fervent supporters of those who advocate, military solutions to political problems, and who have personally (2) declined to take advantage of a significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime.

Some individuals may qualify more for their political associations than for any demonstrated personal tendency towards bellicosity. Some women may be included for exceptional bellicosity.

There is another, less savory definition of the term chickenhawk. It is not relevant to this discussion; we intend no such associations to be drawn here.

We encourage every interested American to feel free to nominate chickenhawks, or to fill in missing information. Nominations are solicited from all sources.

George W. Bush: Yeah, right. He was in uniform. Big deal. See

Bill Clinton: He may have launched a few cruise missiles to distract us from a dalliance with a girl half his age, but our judges believe he wasn’t bellicose enough to make the cut. Your mileage may vary.

Tom Delay: “DeLay’s excuse for having a yellow streak as wide as the Rio Grande down his back is truly imaginative, if you take a delight in the bizarre. The man who believes Dioxin is good for you (again, we are not making this up), claims that he volunteered for Vietnam, but all the spots were taken up by minorities, so he was not allowed to serve. Clearly all those years of exposure to toxic chemicals had some serious side effects on ‘Ol Tom.” – Esther and/or Jeff Clark

Paul Harvey: A complicated case. We’re working on a dossier.

Ted Nugent: An amusing case. We’re working on a dossier.

Richard Perle: We’re working on a dossier.

Ronald Reagan: A complicated case. He remains listed because our judges believe his bellicosity outweighs his relatively painless service.

Pat Robertson: “[His own] libel suit [against fellow former Marine Pete McCloskey] turned out to be an embarrassment to Robertson. During depositions, Paul Brosnan, Jr., a retired university professor who served with Robertson in Korea, backed up [Congressman Pete] McCloskey’s claim and went even further, asserting that the televangelist had consorted with prostitutes and had sexually harassed a Korean cleaning girl who worked in the barracks.” –Rob Boston, The Most Dangerous Man in America, Prometheus Books, 1996. Our judges feel his remarkable service in the field of bonehead politics outweighs the marginal service he provided, particularly given his acquiescence to his old man’s efforts to snatch his chestnuts out of the fire.

Steven Spielberg: We read his films as ultimately adding to the glorification of war. Perhaps we’re wrong. This nomination has been challenged, and is open to debate.

John Wayne: “Another notable Hollywood faker to consider is Marion Morrison. Born in 1907, he decided to jump past his competitors like Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda by using his married status as a reason to avoid volunteering for the cause. As John Wayne, a phony name for a phony man, he played a lot of war heroes, while he ran away from anything resembling patriotism, except the pose. – Ray Duray

Click here to see the complete chart.

Another Sort of Chickenhawk Altogether
We realized with a shudder today that with all the noise we’ve making about “chickenhawks” – who are in general a less-than inspiring lot – we’ve neglected to mention a self-described chickenhawk of an altogether different sort: Robert Mason.

Robert Mason was an Army helicopter pilot with the First Cavalry in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966. His best-selling memoir “Chickenhawk” will likely remain the definitive portrayal of the war as seen from the pilot’s seat of a Huey.

In 1984, when Mason’s “Chickenhawk” was on the New York Times best seller list, its author was in prison for trying to sail a boat full of marijuana into the country. How an ace Army helicopter pilot became a drug smuggler is revealed in Mason’s second book, “Chickenhawk: Back in the World.”

It will come as no surprise to Mason’s fellow veterans that PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – had something to do with the course of his life after the war. Mason’s aptly-named wife Patience wrote a valuable book of her own, Recovering From the War: A Guide for all Veterans, Family Members, Friends, and Therapists, published by Viking in 1990.

The fact that the term “chickenhawk” applies to belligerent draft dodgers like Saxby Chambliss and Tom Delay, and to men like Robert Mason, is, as far as we can tell, simply further proof that if you follow something to its extreme, you may meet its opposite.

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