No Thanks for Your Service

Why the Right is trash-talking the troops

Tucker Carlson attacked the Marines, and the ruff-tuff creampuffs on the right sided with Carlson.

Joe Biden recently promoted two female Marine generals to combat commands, which Carlson professed to find ludicrous; he denounced the president for making the service “more feminine.” “So we’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits,” the frozen food heir told viewers last week. “Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.”

Carlson got some pushback from, among others, amputee vet Senator Tammy Duckworth (“Fuck Tucker Carlson”). And some active Marines got salty — one showed a female servicemember doing a fireman’s carry of a male comrade and told Carlson to “Get right before you get left, boomer”; another invited Carlson to enlist.

These troops were forced by the brass to apologize and, true to modern media practice, the Marines’ apology got far more headlines than Carlson’s ridiculous remarks: “Marine Corps Account Says It ‘Messed Up’ in Response to Fox’s Carlson,” “Marines Admit ‘Messing Up’ For Attacking Tucker Carlson Over ‘Pregnant Soldiers’ Commentary,” “Marines face backlash for ‘unacceptable & appalling’ messages bashing Tucker Carlson,” etc.

Since then a bunch of conservatives, ranging from veterans to lifelong non-combatants, have rushed to Twitter not only to defend Carlson but also to suggest the Marines and other branches of the service are no longer something America should be proud of, but a bunch of sissified social justice warriors.

Cancelculture-crybaby Ian Miles Cheong:

Brainpill-peddler Mike Cernovich:

Plagiarist Benny Johnson:

Hillbilly cosplayer J.D. Vance:

Professional butch-posturer Patrick Howley:

Eccch alia. And now GOP Senator Ted Cruz has issued a formal challenge to the soldiers being mean to Tucker Carlson, as reported in the rightwing Washington Examiner story headlined “Ted Cruz accuses the US military officers defending women in uniform of ‘weaponizing the institution’ in a ‘contentious cultural dispute’”:

The culture war between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and the Pentagon was kicked up a notch over the weekend as Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz entered the fray with a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, demanding a policy to insulate military units from being used “in the service of left wing political causes.”

“The last week has witnessed the Pentagon mobilize systematic, public attacks against television host Tucker Carlson that in substance, tone, and political resonance are inexplicably inappropriate,” Cruz wrote.

This may seem like a weird turn from conservatives; for decades militarism was a major part of their political profile, and “support the troops” one of their mantras. It’s also strange that they’re banging on about women in the military — something we haven’t heard them or anyone else bitch about since the Gulf War.

To understand this, you have to understand just how crazy Trump and the 2020 election has driven them.

For four years conservatives proclaimed that liberals had made America a pitiful giant and Trump was going to beef up the military and make it respected again. Though he occasionally droned a terrorist to keep the blood-lustier elements in his coalition happy, Trump mainly traded mash-notes with dictators and solicited their patronage at his hotels instead.

Except for the occasional opportunity for macho display, in other words, Trump was uninterested in the military because there was no way to squeeze bribes or graft out of it —and in the bizarre Twilight-Zone game of “Simon Says” that is Trump’s leadership of the conservative movement, that means to its erstwhile enthusiasts that the military itself is no longer important. Polls suggest members of the serving military picked up on this, and voted Democratic more than usual (though veterans stuck with Trump).

Now Biden is president and Trump’s conservative patsies are completely unmoored, with no principles new or old to cling to. For example, they’ve just seen the Democrats push through an expensive stimulus package which is not only more popular than any living Republican, but which everyone knows conservatives have zero room to criticize since their hero handed rich people a budget-busting tax cut in 2017.

With their “fiscal responsibility” shtick and most of the other stuff they used to pretend to care about debunked, the only thing conservatives have left to talk about that they think normal people might relate to is cancelculture crybaby nonsense like the Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head guff with which they have busied themselves for weeks.

But deep down they must realize this is not going to cut much ice with normal people — a constituency that increasingly eludes their grasp.

So, finding outreach impossibly difficult, they increasingly retreat to their own echo chambers, eschewing the outside world and its independent voters and seeking comfort in their weird totems and fetishes.

Weirdness like this attack on the military is the result. They’re trash-talking the troops not, like the hippies of yore, for the ill-advised wars and occupations they’re sent on — to Trumpkins, such things are meaningless and may as well not be happening — but because they sense the military, like everyone else, looks down on them, and that must be because they’ve been taken over by the same Cancel-Culture Woke-Mob menace that is making everyone else look down on them. That’s why they’re trying to tell you with a straight face that the efficient, disciplined men and women of the U.S. armed forces are exactly the same as their fantasy of dainty Smith students calling everything problematic. They’re not trying to convince you. They’re trying to comfort themselves.