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A Retired General Wants to Know What's Wrong with Our Country

Bud Kennedy

A retired Air National Guard general called Thursday with three worries.

"Something bad's gone wrong in this country," said retired Brig. Gen. Tom Daniels, 62, of Fort Worth.

"Something's wrong in Arlington. Something's wrong in Austin. And something's wrong in America."

He flew missions in Vietnam. In the Pentagon, he served proudly under President George H.W. Bush - "whom I loved," he added.

"Now our country chooses a black man as president - and suddenly, the governor is talking about secession? And Arlington is boycotting the president? They won't even let children see him in school?"

Eight years removed from 9-11, Daniels feels a chill.

"Look how united we were!" he said in his booming command voice. "Now - look how we've squandered it!"

He didn't even have to mention U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson:

"We're hollering at each other now," Daniels said. "We hate each other."

And he sees that as dividing our heroes in uniform.

"I talk to military guys all over the world - white, black, brown," he said. "They're asking, 'If it was unpatriotic to talk this way about the last president, isn't this unpatriotic?' They're concerned. This is nothing but open, unabated racism. Nobody's saying that."

I know what some of you are going to say. It's political, not racial.

But I also can't imagine people acting this way over, say, a President Harry Reid or even President Al Gore.

"All I know is, the black guy wins, and suddenly these nuts are out there on TV and radio preaching to long-haul truck drivers all over the country," Daniels said.

"Somebody needs to start talking back. Where are the moderates in the Republican Party? Where are the people like George [H.W.] Bush who made sense? They're letting the nuts lead them around by the nose."

He is particularly steamed that Arlington schools still refuse to replay Obama's address to schoolchildren yet will bus fifth-graders to hear George W. Bush on Sept. 21 at a Super Bowl event at Cowboys Stadium. "I've always called Arlington a true all-American city," he said. "I love the parks. I love how they stuck their neck out to get baseball and football."

He lives near the Arlington border and shops in the city.

"But now they're one of the few cities in America boycotting the president's speech? That's wrong."

Daniels reserved special vitriol for Gov. Rick Perry.

"He's Air Force. He should be ashamed," Daniels said. "I'm ashamed of him." Perry "should know better" than to float talk about Texas leaving the U.S., Daniels said.

"Even for a campaign, it's the wrong thing to talk about," he said. "That's not our Texas. We love our country. We're not going anywhere. We don't believe in secession."

He had one final question.

"When is somebody in Arlington or Austin going to stand up to these people?"

It's his mission.

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Bud Kennedy is a homegrown Fort Worth guy who started out covering high school football here when he was 16. He went away to the Fort Worth Press and newspapers in Austin and Dallas, then came home in 1981. Since 1987, he's written more than 1,000 weekly dining columns and more than 3,000 news and politics columns. If you don't like what he says about politics, read him on barbecue.



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