I’ve watched this five times and I’m still not sure what he’s saying. I think he’s trying to argue that there’s no legitimate national security interest to our being in Iraq because, if there were, we wouldn’t have to recruit the poor by running ads and offering financial incentives. Patriotism would be incentive enough and would cut across classes. But since patriotism apparently isn’t enough, that proves the war is illegitimate which means the poor end up bearing a disproportionate share of the burden which in turn means we should either limit our strategic options by eschewing war entirely to prevent this inequity or reinstate the draft so that the sacrifice is shared equitably among people who didn’t enlist and don’t want to be there. Which I guess means the war in Afghanistan is illegitimate too.
He also gently reminds Pelosi that the new Democratic Congress is supposed to be about hearings, fact-finding, deliberation. So why the rush to get this issue off the table?
I’m going to get some dinner. Someone figure out what he’s saying and explain it in the comments.
Update (Bryan): Let me take a stab at this. The fact that the military keeps meeting its recruiting goals, even in the middle of this “illegitimate” war in Iraq, is a real problem for demagogues like Rangel. Liberals like Rangel (and John Kerry, and, well, most liberals actually) really do believe their own propaganda about the military–that it’s disproportionately poor, uneducated, and attracts only those with few or no other options in life(like, er, Norman Schwartzkopf, Richard Meyers and John Abizaid…?). When Rangel was in the military that may even have been true to an extent–the rich always had an easier time avoiding the draft than the poor do. But it’s not true now. The only strata of American societ that is participating less in the military than it once did is the poor. The middle and upper classes are still kicking in their proportionate share.
Now we don’t have a draft, and we have this “illegitimate” war, and still have young Americans voting with their lives to support, fight in and if necessary die in this war. For Rangel, that’s a real problem, and one for which he has no answer. He can cite poll after poll showing broad discontent with the war, but he can’t say that Americans aren’t supporting it–they stubbornly keep enlisting, re-enlisting and volunteering to go to Iraq time and time again. Some Americans, those most closely in touch with today’s military, support the mission.
Like most secularists of the left, Rangel only understands material motivations to personal action–money, prestige, position, that sort of thing. It’s completely alien to him that young Americans could actually volunteer to join the military in the middle of what is to him an obviously “illegitimate” war. He just doesn’t understand it, and never will. Hence, his incoherence on the subject. For him, re-instating the draft would reset the world to the way he understands it, with the poor again actually shouldering more of the burden of national defense, and giving him his precious class warfare angle of attack against the war. And against America itself, which is usually the end game of any liberal political gambit.
At least, that’s how I see it.