Support for Bush overwhelming at Marine Corps base
By Thanassis Cambanis, Globe Staff | October 8, 2004
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq -- It is a measure of President Bush's unassailable popularity among the US Marines on this base that the only one who admitted that he supported John F. Kerry would say so only on condition of anonymity.
The 19-year-old private said he recently bought a copy of the film ''Fahrenheit 9/11," which questions Bush's rationale for going to war. ''If half the things in that movie are true, we're here for the wrong reasons."
With that exception, Marines freely boast that the Corps is Bush country.
''I think 'W' is the man," said First Lieutenant Andrew Thomas, 25, who still has not signed up to get his absentee ballot at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, an hour's drive south of Baghdad.
But Thomas said he had told one of his fellow Marines to remove a Bush-Cheney 2004 bumper sticker pasted on a Humvee on the base. ''We all want him to win, but that's wrong," Thomas said. ''The sticker's got to go."
The ease with which on-duty enlisted Marines discussed politics, and the near-uniformity of their views, exemplified the extent to which the military vote has become Republican since the draft was eliminated in 1973.
Studies that track political attitudes in the military indicate that the officer corps has historically been far more Republican than the general population at large, and that gap has grown in the last two decades.
According to a 1999 study by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, a consortium sponsored by three North Carolina research universities, Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the officer corps by a ratio of 8 to 1. By comparison, the general civilian population has a roughly equal proportion of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, according to the group.
Richard H. Kohn, formerly the chief historian of the Air Force and a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was one of the authors of that study and said the gap appeared to be growing.
Military officers since the Vietnam War have perceived the Republican Party as more in tune with their values and interests, Kohn said, and many exhibited a ''visceral, personal dislike for Bill Clinton."
In the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, headquartered at Base Kalsu, the enlisted ranks appear to be following the same trend.
''It's the military; people are going to vote for Bush," said Lance Corporal Rick McClusey, 19, who said he seeks out political debate with fellow Marines.
An avowed Republican, McClusey said he avidly reads the books he receives in the mail every month from the Conservative Book Club. The last one he read was ''The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" by Mark W. Smith.
He was the first in the unit to sign up for an absentee ballot, with Captain Leigh Dubie, a 20-year Marine veteran who serves as the voting officer at the base. Marines and soldiers on the base give Dubie absentee ballot forms, and she helps anyone who needs to register to vote or get their ballot on time.
About 200 people on a base of about 2,000 have voted so far, she said, but that number only includes military personnel who did not organize their own absentee ballots.
''This is the first year that people are jumping at the gun to vote," Dubie said.
Before the 24th Marines deployed to Iraq in July, Dubie tried to get people to fill out ballot paperwork so they would not have to worry about it under the stress of combat.
''I told them if you want a voice in how the military is going to be in the future, this is your chance," she said.
Asked whether she expected Kerry to have any support, Dubie laughed.
''We crack jokes about that," she said. ''People say, 'We want to make sure we even have a military in four years, so we better vote for Bush.' "
McClusey -- the first in the unit to request his absentee ballot from Dubie -- said the nearly-uniform support he had encountered for Bush over Kerry did not translate into unanimous support for the invasion of Iraq.
''Even if the decision to come here was questionable, at least he had the guts to come over here," he said.
Adding that ''I know I sound like a medieval conservative," McClusey said he had only met one Democrat during his nearly 16 months in the Marines.
Standing near him in the operations center, Jamie Tyson, a 35-year-old Marine, interrupted. ''I voted for Clinton twice," he said. Tyson, who described himself as an independent, also said he had voted for both Bushes and plans to vote for the president's reelection this year. ''I picked the winner every time," he said.
Of Bush, he added, ''People may question his strategy, but no one questions his commitment to the military as a whole."
Ain't just marines.
Army is the same way.
Not too sure about the Air Force, though.
My nephew is Force Recon. He said all the Marines support Pres Bush. About 2/3 in the other branches of service in Iraq.
I didn't know our President's official title was 'W'.....of course, if the guy was in the army someone would've already bitched about it
I don't know a single member of my detachment that can stand Kerry, so the AF is on board too.
Some poll was done recently towards the military as a whole - 78 percent of the vote went to Bush - 18 percent to Kerry. There are some idiots out there - the Kerry fans at my unit are the socialist lazy POS who do not belong in the military to start with.
And here I was thinking the Marines were a bunch of Nader voters. Color me surprised.
It would be interesting to do a poll of the spouses of servicemen and women currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm guessing you'd occasionally find some resentment of Bush for "taking my husband/wife away from me".
Hope I'm wrong –
Yeah, I'm sure you'd find it. But I'm also sure that anybody who voiced that opinion would be ashamed as all hell down the road when this is all over.