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October 29, 2009

War and Baseball Do Mix

Michelle Obama World Series Vets.jpg

With all the service photo-ops lately (Monday, Tuesday), I’m having more and more trouble separating the Administration’s “support our troops” meme from the outright endorsement of militarism and even pro-war cheerleading.

First Lady and Mrs. Biden’s emotional World Series photo-op takes compassion for wounded vets, adds it to passion for two great American pastimes — war and baseball — and mixes it all in a blender.

Michelle’s embrace of the Yankee’s Derek Jeter is a poignant counterpoint to Yankee executive, Tony Ordiernos’ lost hand. And then, Ordierno, a wounded vet, is the glue that ties one field of action to the other, Ordierno being the son of the U.S. Commander in Iraq and also a member of the Yankee family. And then Yogi, a Yankee Great, was on the field last night for the nostalgic link to “the great War.”

(image revised/title changed 8:30 am PST)

(photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters. pPre-game ceremonies before Game 1 of the 2009 Major League Baseball World Series in New York, October 28, 2009)

  • mike

    What? No puppy and fresh apple pie?

  • Karen H.

    The current administration seems far better able to casually catch what the former administration had to capture by force. Props are gathered and let loose while the Bushes posed stiffly conscious of their circumstances.

  • nightbird

    BNN… you’re cynicism is showing again. Kind of tiresome.

  • Kevin

    I’m with nightbird on this one. What are Dems supposed to do, never acknowledge military service? I think it’s better that we don’t leave it all to the conservatives, the ones who actually abuse it and use it for their own gain. At least give points that it’s the ‘display’ of a military serviceman who comes away from war damaged.

  • mcmama

    I’m with nightbird and Kevin. Your reading of this picture feels strained to me. We’re in a war. The last administration used healthy, armed troops as stage props to bolster its banty-rooster strutting. This administration says, War is hell, here’s the proof, and we need some time to figure out how best to approach the current quagmire.
    Give them – and us – a break.

  • bystander

    Dang it, Michael! Since when did this become your mission statement? Really. When did that happen? If you aspire to be a “progressive blog” then it is absolutely necessary that you write only supportive things about these images. And, where did you get this image anyway? Those sources have never tried to sell us a war. We’ve never been given propaganda using military images before. Forget that whole business about the military analysts on the teevee. And, whether we can, or cannot see images of vets returning home in coffins. That was just during Bush43. You need to stop this nonsense right now! Some of us really, really, really don’t want to know if visual images in our media are being used to shape our perceptions. And, we especially don’t want to know if it’s happening on Obama’s watch.
    (/snark; for those with a “tin ear.”)

  • Kevin

    Nice try, bystander.
    We’re not saying supportive things should be said. We’re just offering another viewpoint on something that is subject to interpretation, as all things usually are – especially in media. For example, a person could look at the subject photo above and think about…I don’t know…this perhaps:

  • DennisQ

    People don’t care about veterans; that’s why the suicide rate is so high among them. Tony Odierno is an anomaly – a disabled vet with a job because of his disability.
    It’s always been the case that veterans returning from the war are discarded. This is especially true for a losing war. Veterans are living symbols of a national embarrassment.
    Formal ceremonies honoring veterans are a sop to the national conscience. When BNN points out these less-than-noble motives, folks like Kevin and nightbird and mcmama flip out. Veterans are trotted out in support of militarism, and for no other reason.

  • Kevin

    All we did was offer an opposing viewpoint. This is flipping out?
    Again, images are subject to interpretation. With regard to the soldier in uniform, some may be filled with pride, some react with indifference, and others with sadness (which comes closest to my feelings about seeing him…he lost his hand/arm for what?).
    I believe the imagery of the hook where the hand should be doesn’t bang any drums or wave any flags. I think the photo says “we appreciate our soldiers, too” and look at what the hell we’ve done to them…

  • DennisQ

    It’s true that your opinion is more moderate than the other two I mentioned. However, Tony Odierno is simply a prop in the picture. The Yankees may call him an executive, but I’d bet he doesn’t make any important decisions. He’s part of the Yankees’ campaign to suggest it’s patriotic to pay big money to attend baseball games. That, and singing God Bless America at every home game.
    Incidentally, Odierno is not a soldier, which implies that he’s drawing a paycheck from the Army. He’s drawing a pension based on a formula that rates the extent of his disability. A missing arm might be worth $1400 a month but he seems like he’s able to dress himself for work.

  • mcmama

    I don’t feel flipped out. I do wonder how you reconcile your first two paragraphs with your third: “Formal ceremonies honoring veterans are a sop to the national conscience…” Are you proposing that we avoid honoring them? How, exactly, will that prevent them from feeling that they’ve been discarded?
    I don’t fault the administration for honoring them. I just don’t think doing so is the same as glorifying militarism. Strutting around in a flight suit, giving endless (incoherent) speeches while flanked by healthy young servicemen and -women, wowing a fawning (and craven) press corps with tough talk about ‘dead or alive’ and ‘with us or against us’ – that is militarism. Spotlighting injured vets is the opposite.

  • lytom

    Friendly feeling of being in…All the passive, receptive audience soaks it in. Patriotism at its best. Except, US is still an empire bent on destruction using its armed forces, and other ways and means to achieve that aim. That is the undercurrent that the audience, ready to see the ”fight” – the baseball event – on the field does not feel, care to feel and is made not to think about.
    US is still Masters of War and that together with the propaganda and feel good will not result in any change.

  • Morgan

    You make a lot of assumptions.

  • g

    Your assumption that Odierno does nothing more than serve as a figurehead seems to be reinforcing a stereotype that disabled people aren’t capable of doing work non-disabled people do.
    I have no idea what his primary skills are, but I would imagine that his injury doesn’t prevent him from doing the kind of work an executive does – which involves leadership, ideas, direction, oversight, etc.
    Why would you assume he would be incapable of that kind of work?

  • g

    You seem to be reinforcing stereotypes that disabled people can’t return to the workforce in any meanful role other than to be a symbol of their own disablity.
    Why wouldn’t he be capable of serving as an executive, and why wouldn’t MLB expect him to do so if they are giving him that title?
    Disabled people serve in many upper management positions, and their physical disability doesn’t prevent them from being successful.

  • DennisQ

    He’s there to sell militarism. His purpose is to put the lump in your throat as you ponder what a good and great country this is.
    And he’s not a Yankee executive, fergoshsakes. He’s an intern.

  • bystander

    Thanks DennisQ. I did not know how Odierno came to work for the Yankees. Appreciate the prompt to search. As best I can track down, Tony Odierno is interning with the Yankee’s management, apparently, in Stadium Operations as he works on his MBA from NYU. According to one of those sources, Odierno came to the attention of the Yankees when Johnny Damon was given an award by the Wounded Warrior Project with which Odierno was involved.
    I don’t know that I’d accept the idea that we intentionally disregard or discard our veterans. And, I don’t know that’s the view you’re actually advocating. But, it seems absolutely true that we disregard and discard the military adventures we send them on, and any lessons we might have learned from the same. As we shoot those, often failed (since WW2), adventures down the memory hole, invariably we shoot those who served in them down the memory hole, as well. Unless, of course, we need a prop for the 4th of July or for a Veteran’s Day parade. Or, perhaps, as you suggest, as a means to assuage our collective guilt for refusing to learn what these military adventures, and the various losses (life/mind/limb) associated with them, would teach us. I’m not surprised that we do this, I’m only surprised when vets agree to serve us this way.

  • mjfgates

    I didn’t know anybody put apples in puppy pie.

  • DennisQ

    It’s not that we intentionally set out to discard the veteran but that soldiers and veterans assume the entire burden of the war. Everybody else can escape, and they do.
    The problem with honoring celebrity veterans like Tony Odierno is that it’s presented as an expression of solidarity with veterans, but that solidarity does not exist. Veterans are mostly dumped on a society that mostly doesn’t want them around. The suicide rate among veterans reflects the degree of their alienation, and it’s astronomical. Some estimates are 18 suicides a day but it’s hard to get an exact number because veterans with mental health problems tend to disappear.
    Stack that up against the lump-in-your-throat good feeling you get when Tony Odierno throws out the first pitch at the World Series. This gesture is presented as if America stands by our veterans and supports them. That is simply not the case.

  • mon_oeil

    I find First Lady Michelle Obama stunning in this photo and from the back the ball player resembles President Obama, which gives it an added fascination. It is beautiful how Derek Jeter and Tony Ordiernos frame her smiling face.

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