When people are having a good time, you don't want to be the skunk in the garden. And this week, people were having such a good time at that big White House welcome for the Queen. The New York Times says her majesty was "making Americans go weak in the knees." Sometimes we colonials seem so dazzled by British royalty that I wonder if General Washington did defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown.
But a less playful thought also occurred to me watching the first and royal families all gussied up. I couldn't help but think of Prince Harry, the Queen's grandson, who is headed for Iraq with a cavalry regiment, even though he's a conspicuous target for assassination or kidnapping. There's angst in official circles that other members of his regiment will be put at graver risk because of his celebrity. So guess what his comrades -- his fellow soldiers -- are doing? Rather than petition the Queen to keep the young man home, they have gotten shirts printed up with the words across them: "I'm Harry." Marvelous, no? The commoners and the Prince are in this together: one for all and all for one. What a notion -- that war should be the great equalizer, that no one's son or daughter is privileged from duty or danger.
You have to wonder how the last four years might have been different if only our President had asked sacrifice from everyone. Instead, mostly folks from the working class and professional soldiers are doing the dying in Iraq, while the rich spend their tax cuts. War on the cheap, except for those fighting it.
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Watching all the wrangling in Washington this week over timetables and exit strategies and benchmarks, it occurred to me that this travesty might end much more quickly if what is happening in Iraq were not just word-play to our leaders -- something others die for while officials talk, talk, and talk. Suppose the next time they pow-wow and palaver the President and Congress were asked to wear shirts with the words written across them, "I'm Harry."
Bill Moyers is the host of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. This essay appears on tonight's program. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at pbs.org/moyers.
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