Is this what happens when a nation's fighting forces have to grind (and die) through two long wars in a decade -- one begun on false pretexts and exited ignominiously; the other trudging along without definable purpose long after most everyone has forgotten what the point ever was? Soldiers aren't dumb and they know enough to suspect their sacrifice is being misused.
Veterans have long been considered a Republican base constituency, a group among whom Democrats were lucky to get any votes at all. But the Washington Post reports that Obama political strategists think that the president can win far more current and former military voters than has been the recent norm for a Democrat.
While the Wapo discusses the 2012 campaign politics, Reuters/NewYork Times makes bold claims about what the current crop of veterans take from the wars of the '00s.
It's hard to believe that the military has changed enough so Obama's lead among veterans will hold up when Republicans wrap themselves in the flag. Neither he nor Romney were ever in uniform, but Obama can certainly portray himself as a responsible Commander in Chief who did wind down one war. And his family friendly overtures should help him in the era of the overstressed "all-volunteer" force.
Vets are different than the nation's general demographic profile. Eighty-four percent of vets are white; 93 percent are men. Twenty-five percent have a disability (compared to 14 percent of non-vets.)
The largest demographic block of living veterans --34 percent -- are from the Vietnam era. Their war, whether they affirm or despise it, was a Democratic war. Vets of the wars of the '00s are 10 percent of the total. They fought Republican wars. Will their disillusionment realign their politics? This election may begin to suggest an answer.
Demographics from National Journal. Photo of the President at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan from US Army Flickr.