My pal Paul called this morning from New York, where he and I had lived in the same building on Central Park South and become friends some 40 years ago.
Paul is a guy with smarts and the guts to go with them.
Coincidentally, in the early days of World War II, we were both paying a visit to the Japanese in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. I was 21, and was a gunnery officer on a Destroyer Escort. Paul, at 17, was ashore fighting in places such as Vella LaVella, where only the obedient brave or the suicidally mad would venture.
Not far from Paul’s operations was a young guy named Jack Kennedy, racing his PT boat out of Rendova.
If some inexplicable circumstance should put me back in the Solomons with only one guy of my choice at my side, it would be Paul, hands down.
Paul is as brave as any man, but, more importantly, he can think as well.
Both Paul and I remain, even in these infelicitous days, patriotic Americans. Naturally, we recoil at the steady stream of lies coming from the mouth of the present president.
Obama seems to have grown up with a monstrous dislike for the truth — and he has learned to profit politically from habitual broken promises.
After Paul and I finished telephoning, I hung up the phone and turned on the radio.
A guy on the news was telling the world how President Obama plans to serve Americans with his health care program.
What comes from the radio stuns me — This president, who has never provably run anything in his life, and has never, to my knowledge, put on a uniform of any kind — even a Boy Scout’s — is explaining that his grand plan of health care will provide diminished care to the very young and to the old!
I assume, knowing that Obama is a solid brass hack politician, that he has no worries about his own old age — former presidents and their kin will be cared for as “special cases.”
Suddenly I think about Paul and I down there in the Solomons as part of a bloody national effort to stop the Japanese from taking over the lives of all our future descendents.
Every U.S. generation since the 1940s would have a different pedigree had not we young guys joined in some scary hell-for-leather missions to stop the Japanese military ferocity.
Guys who fought for their country back then don’t talk about it much.
But they have a damn-good right to get their hackles up when their president tells them that they will be given less than their deserved share of health care because they have dared to grow old.
My father fought in both World Wars because he thought that it was “the right thing to do.”
I am glad that he’s not present to witness the disdainful medical lagniappe that the president of the United States is preparing to serve up to grizzled U.S. veterans of life and of war.