Adam Johnson Tries to Argue GOP ‘Chicken Hawks’ Are Cowards, Then Forgets How to Argue

Adam Johnson wrote a pice for Alternet, which was reprinted on, in which he trashes the top five Republican “Chicken Hawks.” For the uninitiated, a chicken hawk is someone who has himself never served in the military, but is “eager to send American men and women overseas.”

First mistake. Johnson uses a word that encourages the reader to believe that these men are excited to send people to war, that they are just itching to send men and women to die. Eager. False.

Johnson then proceeds to list these five men: Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and George Pataki, and compare their hawkishness to their lack of military records, including the wars in which they could have participated.

The following are two excitedly douchie quotes from Johnson (the whole piece can be read here):

“Military service also was the last thing on Christie’s mind in his military age years. He worked for corporate law firm Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci and launched his political career as the state coordinator for George H. W. Bush’s 1992 campaign…He skipped the Gulf War and the Bosnian War.”

“When Cruz was of enlistment age, he groomed himself to be an anti-elitist “small government” conservative by attending Ivy league schools where he was a debate champion and then ladder-climbing in the GOP establishment, first clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court and then returning to Texas to work as a special prosecutor. Cruz could have honed his military credential in the Gulf War, Bosnian War, Kosovo War, War in Afghanistan and Iraq War. Instead, his chosen weapon is a verbal barb.”

Johnson then compares his deliciously prickly opinions of these men with things they’ve said about wars and skirmishes, such as the following from Ted Cruz:

“The mission should be defeating ISIS before they succeed in carrying out more horrific acts of terror, before they succeed in murdering Americans. If need be, we should go that step.”

And this from Rick Santorum:

“If we don’t start winning the war against ISIS my fear is we are going to see casualties here in the United States.”

Oh, the horror! They’re just so—what’s the word?—EAGER to send men and women to their deaths, bereft of any and all understanding of what that entails!

Oh wait, that’s not what that indicates at all. Silly me. I was in the head of a mush-brained liberal for a second.

Johnson then undermines his own argument and the entire point of his piece by stating:

“The more those sending our largely poor classes off to war have little firsthand experience in what they are being asked to do, the greater the likelihood of tragic mistakes. While military service doesn’t, of course, make one more dovish—the perpetually belligerent John McCain disproves this assumption—it perhaps gives some pause. Some perspective. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t entirely divorce the consequences of war from those who level it.”

Wait, didn’t he just spend his entire piece telling me that these men are chicken hawks—men “eager” to send youth to war, but who themselves were too chicken to go to war? I mean, that was the thrust of the entire piece, yet he just undermined the entirety of his argument in a single paragraph.

Johnson accidentally mentions the two teeny-tiny-little things that make us who we are, and what make us able to make decisions that have consequences outside our own scope of experience: intellect and empathy.

As human beings, we have the intelligence (even if we didn’t serve in the military) to grasp the weight of the decision to send men and women into battle. More than that, we have the emotional understanding of the consequences of such actions. It’s called not being a sociopath.

To suggest that someone’s non-enlistment as a youth means they are out of their depth when mulling the choice to send people to war is an odious suggestion. It dismisses all intellect and empathy in favor of personal experience, which—as Johnson even pointed out by citing John McCain–does not always prevent one from being a hawk. I would add Tom Cotton to that list as well.

Ah, I get it. Johnson just hates these candidates and wants to undermine them in any way he can. In this instance, he happened to choose the military angle. This could have been moderately successful if he hadn’t then undercut his premise in his final paragraph.

In a nutshell, Adam Johnson’s article goes like this: “These men are desperate to send troops to die, but they’re cowards! Oh yeah, one doesn’t have to have served to know what they’re talking about. Shh! Don’t read that last part! Lol.”

Good try on the attempted hit piece, Adam. But next time, do a proofread before you hit the publish button, checking for portions that spoil your premise entirely.