But before coming to any rash or snarky judgments, we should consider his predicament, and extend to him our empathetic commiseration.
For Bob Herbert is suffering from severe depression.
In his column this week, "Wounds You Can't See," Herbert reveals his worsening state of mind. He is angry that President Bush has been able to manage the battles of Afghanistan and Iraq without causing the American people more pain and suffering:
The U.S. has been at war for years now, but ordinary Americans have never been asked to step up and make the kind of sacrifices that wars have historically required.
There is no draft. There are no shortages of food, consumer items or gasoline. We’re not even paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That multitrillion-dollar obligation has been shoved off to future generations. Incredibly, taxes have been lowered, not raised, since the wars began.
On the home front, this is as pleasant a wartime environment as one could imagine.
And Herbert can't stand it! He wants to suffer! He wants you to suffer!
Of course, nothing is preventing Herbert from helping the war effort by making whatever sacrifices he thinks would be useful and appropriate. He could donate to Adopt a Platoon or Adopt a Sniper, for example. he might not be too old to join up in some useful capacity.
And he could actually use his column to support America instead of supporting America's enemies! Imagine that! But I guess that would be too much of a sacrifice . . .
Incidentally, contrast Bob Herbert's insane desire for suffering with President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863:
In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
Lincoln had a hostile Democrat New York press with which to contend, but I don't think even the most rabid copperheads were so foolish as to wish that the country they still in fact loved would suffer more than it already had endured.
Mr. Herbert is worried that the lack of sacrifice and suffering on the home front is contributing to the psychological stress endured by our Armed Forces:
Among the least-noted aspects of these two seemingly endless wars is the psychological toll they are taking on those who have volunteered to fight them. Increasingly, they are being medicated on the battlefield, and many thousands are returning with brain damage and psychological wounds that cause tremendous suffering and have the potential to alter their lives forever.War is hell. Nobody knows that better than the men in the front lines.
But why shouldn't psychological problems receive 21st century medical treatment equivalent to the 21st century surgical and medical treatment accorded physical problems?
Does Herbert really want to deprive our soldiers of the best in modern psychological medicine, just so they can suffer more?
What an idiot!
Meanwhile, re-enlistments in front line fighting units are at all time record levels.
The troops can take it.
Undoubtedly, with the success of the so-called "surge," the Iraqi Army's defeat of Mookie's Mehdi Militia, an imminent Status-of-Forces agreement providing for a long-termn Korean-style US military presence in Iraq (right on Iran's doorstep!), Herbert's Bush Derangement Syndrome has taken a turn for the worse!
He's the one who needs Prozac!