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« Suckled on Revenge, Part III | Main | The right not to feel ’uncomfortable’ »

March 23, 2007

George P. signs on for eight-year tour of duty

I was delighted to see this story on the Politico announcing that President Bush's heartthrob nephew, George P. Bush, son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has just been accepted in the Navy Reserves as an intelligence officer, where he will serve eight years.

Why is this good news? Because, as Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer write in AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service--and How It Hurts Our Country, far too few of our elites are willing to set aside their personal and career plans to don a uniform for a few years.

Bush--a young man who grew up in a wealthy family, and is the nephew of a sitting president and the son of a sitting governor--is about as elite they come. Bush is, moreover, the chief operating officer and part-owner of a successful real estate development firm.

As the Politico notes, after Bush finishes his intelligence certification, he "can volunteer for active duty or be deployed." (Note to the cynical: Plenty of Reserve officers have served, and continue to serve, in the Middle East).

George P. says he was inspired to join the Reserves after attending the commissioning ceremony of the USS George H.W. Bush, an aircraft carrier. "My grandfather's my hero, and what really sold me on the ultimate decision was having the chance to see the CVN-77 be commissioned under his name," Bush says.

As Roth-Douquet and Schaeffer note, "Our museums are filled with portraits of the scions of leading families who led fateful charges, sometimes were harmed, sometimes returned to fame and fortune, all of whom did their part." Today, very few well-heeled sons and daughters do, which "undermines the strength of our civilian leadership, which no longer has significant numbers of members who have the experience and wisdom that comes from national service."

And, the authors add, "It is hard for a civilian leadership that lacks meaningful ties to the military to make the case that it has the wisdom, fairness, and commitment to make the call for those sacrifices."

George P. is setting a good example to other highly privileged twenty-somethings who never even thought of military service. If he eventually runs for office, as many think he will, George P. will have earned the right to lead.

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