Sunday, April 06, 2003
If there is a good and bad aspect to David Bloom's death on the Iraqi sand it is that his loss will personalize war’s dreadful harvest to many Americans who do not share a direct personal connection to our troops.
The cynic I am must admit first that I was not a fan of Mr. Bloom’s pre-war career with The National Biscuit Company. He seemed to personify the smug insulated media yuppie of the modern era I so detest. From the unfilled shoe of the promotionally disabled Weekend Today to his pack running at the White House, I found nothing redeeming in Mr. Bloom’s career until this war. In this first coldly brutal conflict of the modern era David Bloom bloomed. As I wrote here in this blog after the first day of the Iraq II ground battle, these fine young American troops (and by their historic and media redeeming bravery I include the embeds within the meaning of the word “troops”), no matter the depth of their training, were not raised to even begin to understand the level of brutal force that was demanded of ground commanders to repel mindless Iraqi advances. It was evident from battlefield reports that the commanders themselves were shocked.
It is a measure of Washington’s folly that they moved rapidly to blur these initial reports and evidence of criminal negligence if the Marine Combat 1 Commander was removed for “political” considerations.
From that first day of battle this cynic was sincerely impressed with the historic immediacy of the embed reportage and the human concern these reporters dramatically displayed (and display still) for the soldiery.
I was impressed that old guys, like Walter Rodgers (we many years ago when he was a young AP reporter shared a bus ride and a conversation) and Ted Koppel, were embedded with the troop and not back at the Saigon Hilton in Kuwait. I mordantly chortled (to quote a hero) that Rummy wasn’t pleased the embeds were drifting off plan. The presence of cocky youth, like CNN's Ryan Chillcothe, didn’t initially impress but their reporting, to use an old broadcasting expression, “blew my socks off!” What was not to be impressed? The great beauty and innocence of American youth wrapped in all our technical and patriotic glory was the real shock and awe to the beetling jealousy of the craven world. It was Gulf I with the Moon landing blended into Psy Op sledgehammer and barring a disastrous chem/bio attack this Psy victory continues no matter what one thinks, good or ill, of the Bush Administration.
In a previous post I drew a comparison between this war and a pagan sacrifice. The expiation of sin by ritual bloodletting; I still feel this comparison is apt if a bit cold and over intellectual in a Wolfowitzian sort of way.
I am sorry for David Bloom the person and his young family and the price, like so many young soldiers and their families, that has been their loss and the suffering that will ripple from it. The people of America cannot afford to allow this blood price to be dressed in sugary glory and these deaths, Iraqi and American, to be in vain. War is never pretty or clean. War never goes according to pre-set political plan…plans gel from War’s chaos.
AETCo Intaglio Portrait, US Grant
I reflect on US Grant who shied from bloody meat at dinner but whose battle rage is legend. The bravery I’ve observed within the American ranks hasn’t been entirely restricted to active duty front line troops. Generals know History and History’s lessons.
As David Bloom’s wartime humanity brought him to journalism’s truth so too the concept of soldier has returned to the American hearth from its Vietnam estrangement. I hope the Generals remember that they are America’s sons as well and that they continue their sworn duty to our shared children and fight this battle as soldiers and not politicians.
Video Still Frame: NBC