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The Chickenhawk from the 1st District

Sending missiles into Mexico? Really?


I don’t know if Republican First District Congressman James Comer really means the nuttiness he spouts or if he’s just pandering to the MAGA white folks back home in Kentucky.

His motive doesn’t matter. It’s nuttiness either way.

Recently, Comer, who chairs the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said we should have bombed Mexico when we had the chance. Okay, not the whole country – just illegal south-of-the-border drug labs.

The congressman claimed on Fox News that “it was a ‘mistake’ that the administration didn’t go through with bombing drug labs in Mexico after then-President Donald Trump suggested it in 2020,” Kate Riga wrote in Talking Points Memo.

She quoted Comer: “One of the things we learned post-Trump presidency is that he had ordered a bombing of a couple of fentanyl labs, crystal meth labs, in Mexico, just across the border and for whatever reason the military didn’t do it. I think that was a mistake.”

The congressman from “WhereverHeHangsHisHat” has become “the pasty face of a new, grievance-riddled Republican Party, steamrolling the nation toward the sort of discord unseen since the Vietnam War,” wrote Bill Straub, a Northern Kentucky Tribune columnist and Kentucky Journalism Hall of Famer.

Comer’s bombs-away bloviation makes him a perfect candidate for the old “Chickenhawk Database.” It was an online hall of shame for conservative pols, pundits, and assorted celebrities who were gung-ho for war when they were middle-aged — Comer is 48 — or in their golden years but declined military service in their youth. He’d also have been a prime “War Wimp.” More on that in a minute.

Steve Fowle, a Vietnam vet and newspaper guy, compiled the database, explaining that Chickenhawks shared three qualities: “bellicosity (a warlike manner or temperament), public prominence, and a curious lack of wartime service when others their age had no trouble finding the fight.”

Comer was born on Aug. 19, 1972, according to Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, invaded Kuwait in 1990, the year the ever-patriotic Comer graduated from Monroe County High School. Saddam’s aggression and annexation of Kuwait sparked the 1990-1991 Gulf War war in which the U.S. led a 35-nation coalition that ultimately expelled Saddam’s forces.

The ever-patriotic Comer turned 18 shortly after Iraq attacked Kuwait. Instead of joining the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force,  as thousands of other young men and women did, Comer went on to attend Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where he graduated in 1993 and subsequently became a farmer and politician.

Comer still dotes on The Donald, who gave him a ride on Air Force One in 2017. While Comer opted against the prospect of shooting it out with Saddam’s soldiers, his hero Trump trotted out a questionable medical excuse that saved him from the distinct possibility of having to dodge Viet Cong and North Vietnamese bullets in Vietnam, the war of his salad days.

“In the fall of 1968, Donald J. Trump received a timely diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that led to his medical exemption from the military during Vietnam,” Steve Eder wrote in The New York Times in 2018. “For 50 years, the details of how the exemption came about, and who made the diagnosis, have remained a mystery, with Mr. Trump himself saying during the presidential campaign that he could not recall who had signed off on the medical documentation.

“Now a possible explanation has emerged about the documentation. It involves a foot doctor in Queens who rented his office from Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and a suggestion that the diagnosis was granted as a courtesy to the elder Mr. Trump.”

Trump never misses a chance to profess his patriotism – even hugging the Stars and Stripes. But in the 1990s, he had likened “trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases on the dating scene to ‘my personal Vietnam,’” Aaron Blake wrote in The Washington Post in 2019.

I’m 73. Vietnam was the war of my youth, too. College deferments and a congenital vertebral deformity, documented by an orthopedic surgeon, kept me from the draft and Vietnam.

I didn’t cheerlead for the Vietnam war; I didn’t want anybody going to Vietnam. Those who did go deserve the same honor and respect due to every American who fought in every one of our wars. I’ve never been a flag-waver for our post-Vietnam wars, though I honor and respect vets of those wars, too.

I can’t think of anything more hypocritical and more dishonorable than some old guy like me, who never served, beating the drum for military action. “I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in,” said Sen. George McGovern, the Democrat who ran for president in 1972 in opposition to the Vietnam war.

McGovern flew a B-24 bomber in combat over Nazi-occupied Europe in World War II. His skill and bravery earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Comer and Trump would also qualify as a “War Wimp.”

“A war wimp is a tough-talking conservative hawk who favors big military build-ups, more and bigger nukes, sending American troops hither and yon, and going eyeball to eyeball with anybody who looks at us the wrong way,” columnist Mike Royko wrote in the Chicago Tribune in 1985.

“But that’s not all there is to being a war wimp. A war wimp is also somebody who, when a war was actually being fought while he was a young man, found it convenient to be somewhere safe.”

Royko explained that Congressman Andrew Jacobs, an Indiana Democrat and Korean War Marine veteran, coined “War Wimp” to demonstrate “his amused disdain for those who talk a good fight, just as long as somebody else will have to fight it.”

Sounds like Mr. Comer and his desire to have our military attack our neighbor, while he’s in his 1st District home in Frankfort.


Background info on the Chickenhawk Database can be found here. Info on the War Wimps can be found here.

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Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)

Arlington, KY



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