Monday, February 14, 2005

OK, I really don't know WHAT to make of this. Seriously.

Once again, credit to Atrios for the link, we have
the story of 29-year-old Johnnie Chennault who, after having joined the Navy Reserve, is preparing to ship out to Iraq later this month, leaving behind his wife. And 11 children.

No, that's not a misprint. 11 children. At the age of 29. What the hell?

The point of Atrios' link is, not surprisingly, to emphasize the whiny, pansy-ass, chickenhawkery of right-wing crybaby Jonah Goldberg, who's too much of a coward to get his ass shot off in Iraq, and defends his cowardice with the fact he has a daughter. That's right. One. Singular. And yet we have Johnnie, with his 11 kids, marching off to war.

But, really, there's a bigger issue here, isn't there? What the hell is a 29-year-old doing with 11 children?! According to the article, four of them are hers from a previous marriage. (Insert obligatory snark here about the so-called "sanctity" of marriage.)

But still, at what point do you have to say enough is enough? As the article states:

Chennault, 29, had inquired about enlisting in the Army, the Air Force, the Marines and the Navy, but they all told him it was against policy to take someone who has that many children to support on a newly enlisted man's pay.

And maybe this should have been a clue for Chennault that he was making some really bad career choices. It's not like he's independently wealthy -- he's an assistant manager in the auto department at Sears, for God's sake! And unless Sears is paying a lot more than they used to, I can't imagine his salary is going to let him live comfortably while supporting a wife and a football team's worth of younguns. But here's my take on this, for what it's worth.

The article's theme is, naturally, about the noble sacrifice and selflessness of Chennault as he prepares to defend freedom, liberty, liberty, liberty, freedom, freedom, liberty and Halliburton. I don't see it that way. I see it as Chennault being one of the biggest assholes on the planet. As you can see in this excerpt from the article:

While her husband is away, Ronda Chennault will rely more on her parents and on their church, South Haven Baptist. The children will have to do more for themselves.

So, to indulge Chennault in his obvious obsession to play soldier, the burden is being dumped on his wife, his kids, her parents and their church. If all of them are happy with that, far be it from me to snark about it, I guess. But here's where I draw the line:

His employer, Sears, will make up the difference in pay while he's in Iraq, an assignment Chennault thinks will last seven or eight months.

Frankly, if I was Sears, I'd tell him he's on his own. As the article points out, Chennault has worked for Sears for nine years, but he completely voluntarily joined the Navy Reserve only two years ago. In short, he clearly already had a serious family commitment before he decided to make that military commitment. No one forced him. It was entirely his choice, and a pretty obviously stupid one under the circumstances. And now, he wants his employer to subsidize that stupidity.

It would be one thing if Chennault had already been a long-time Reserve member before collecting a passel of kids. But to have voluntarily joined the Reserve in his position is plain idiocy and I wouldn't criticize Sears one bit if they took the attitude that, hey, your choice, you deal with it. And, no, your job won't be waiting for you when you get back.

The fact that all of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines turned him down for obvious reasons should have been a clue. If Chennault is too stupid to accept free clues, I don't see why anyone else should have to suffer the consequences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how many of you are out there so quick to run our family down. When the article says we will be relying more on family and the church it refers to moral and emotional support...not financial. As far as Sears making up the pay difference, this is one of many companies that support our military and make up pay differences for ALL soldiers...not just because they feel sorry for us. We are not on welfare and are not asking for a handout, nor would we be if Johnnie becomes one of the fallen. He made sure of that before even joining by taking out life insurance in the event of war or even a car accident. Obviously you skipped parts of the article when you skimmed it. Johnnie volunteered for this after we discussed it and because he wanted to set an example for our children of giving back to our country AND to others. His family comes first and foremost....that is why he is willing to put his life on the line for our freedom, as well as yours. We are all very proud of him and of all the soldiers of the past, present, and future. It's a shame there are not more out there willing to risk their lives for others.

Ronda Chennault
proud christian, wife, mother, American