Charles Lindbergh’s Babies: <br>It’s Liberal Democrats <br>Who Echo the Isolationists
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As Donald Trump careers toward the election, it looks like his critics are going to try to tar him with his own campaign slogan, “America First.” It was, after all, the cry of those who wanted America to stay out of the fight against Hitler.
They formed the “America First Committee” in 1940, even after the war in Europe had begun and the Nazis were gearing up for the Final Solution. The left is going to try to hang all this on Mr. Trump.
This is going to be rich, let me just say, particularly coming from the Democrats. Imagine Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders trying to make an issue of Donald Trump’s reluctance to go to war.
When Mr. Sanders’ generation was signing up to fight the Communists in Vietnam, the future senator was lurking on a Stalinist kibbutz. Mrs. Clinton may have voted for the Iraq war, but she turned out to be a summer soldier.
What standing does either one of them — or President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry or the New York Times — have to go after The Donald on America First and its ilk?
Almost the entire Democratic camarilla was for Mr. Obama’s appeasement of the Iranian ayatollahs. And for transferring $150 billion dollars to the terrorist state, while we’re shrinking our defense forces.
This is the dirty secret of the Democratic Party elites. The reason they are so quick to get up on their high horses is that there’s so much hypocrisy among the left-liberal intelligentsia.
In some ways the America First Committee was more honorable than the modern left. It was incorporated in September 1940, a year after Hitler invaded Poland.
No doubt it was swarming with anti-Semites, although its membership also included some of the best and the brightest. One future president, Gerald Ford, was a member, according to Bill Kauffman’s book on the America First Committee. Another, JFK, put in $100.
Ken Burns, in his story of the Roosevelts, lists poet Robert Frost, actress Lillian Gish, and composer Charles Ives among those in America First. Alice Roosevelt Longworth was a founding director.
The most charitable interpretation of the America First Committee is that the country was still binding its wounds from World War I. We had just slogged through the Great Depression.
America First’s delusions were dashed on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, bringing America legally and unambiguously into the war.
Let’s remember how America First reacted. It disbanded three days after Pearl Harbor and went to war to save Europe, America, and the Jews from Hitler. They and the whole country stayed with it until victory.
Gerald Ford got into the war, as did JFK, whose older brother, Joseph, perished in England. Even Charles Lindbergh, who’d been a spokesman for America First, tried to get into the fight.
The FDR administration wouldn’t let him in, and Lucky Lindy ended up appearing in arms in the Pacific — as a civilian. He educated our pilots in the finer points of maneuvering against the enemy.
What a contrast with the Vietnam-era peace movement, which not only opposed the war but, all too often, seemed to root for our enemy. The young John Kerry actually met with Vietcong emissaries while we had GIs in combat.
The “America Firsters” may have sought to stay out of the war, but they eventually answered the draft. They didn’t throw away their medals. They came home testifying to the horror of Hitler’s war against the Jews.
Maybe I missed it. Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt interview with The Atlantic magazine about how Hitler and his henchmen were rational, even though they were anti-Semites?
No, that was President Obama, talking about top Iranians. Whatever Donald Trump has done, he hasn’t done something worse than that. He’s made a point of eschewing isolation.
“I’m not isolationist,” Mr. Trump told the Times, “but I am ‘America First’.’’
Mr. Trump’s language echoes a song that Merle Haggard started warbling in 2006, when the Democrats in Congress were beginning to waver on the war. “Yeah, men in position are backing away,” he sang. “Freedom is stuck in reverse.”
Haggard, now gone, wanted to get out of Iraq and get America back on track. He called his song “America First.” Which Democrat will have standing to mock Donald Trump if he makes it his theme song?
This column first appeared in the New York Post.