1. No, I don’t want him fired or anything like that. I think he was earnestly thinking out loud, and from his apology, I think that he could tell that his line of thinking was (even apart from the public reaction) taking him places he didn’t want to go.
2. A lot of Hayes’ commentary just feels off. There is the part when he says that he is uncomfortable with using the term hero to describe the fallen but he acknowledges “ obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that.” Public discourse on the fallen is going to be an approximation, but if Hayes was going to wonder whether (for instance) troops who died because their Humvee ran over an IED or because they were shot by an Afghan security officer they were training should not be described as heroes, the calendar offers about 320 or so better days to bring up the subject.
3. I don’t know what Hayes is talking about when he says he feels “uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.” I know many people with the highest regard for those in military service (some of whom are their close relatives - though not all have close relatives in the service.) I don’t know what fraction of the fallen dead they would regard as “heroes”, but whatever it is, it hasn’t stopped many of them from opposing the Iraq War or the Afghan Surge. I don’t see their esteem for those in the military (which includes reverence for those who died) to lead to a desire for the bombing of Syria or the invasion of Costa Rica or whatever Hayes imagines.
4. There was an element of deep political cynicism in what Hayes was saying. The implied point was that the public honor accorded to those who were killed in military service (by calling them “heroes”) increases the chances of future military interventions and that this is undesirable. The corollary would be that a diminution of the public honor accorded to those who died in combat might be desirable in helping Mr. Hayes win his next round of foreign policy disputes with John McCain - disputes that he might otherwise lose in public argument about the merits of the military operation in question. This is detestable and I think that Hayes himself has recoiled from where his line of thinking was taking him.