My father was career Army. When I was about 6 years old he was stationed at Fort Gordon, Ga. We lived in Augusta, home to a golf course that I think was particularly favored by then President Eisenhower. My parents were Democrats, but I remember being hoisted up to sit on my father’s shoulders to get a glimpse of the commander in chief’s motorcade as it went by, with the same sense of pride and excitement that we felt some time later when we stood in the crowd at the National Cemetery to get a glimpse of John F. Kennedy. There has been a great tradition in the American military that respects the idea that our troops don’t fight for partisanship or from loyalty to individuals. They serve, they work, they risk their lives for the Constitution, and for the safety, rights and liberty of the sovereign people of the United States.
As I have learned more about the complex realities of the government’s workings over the years, I’ve certainly come to realize that at higher levels of government political considerations can and do play a role in the thinking and actions of our military leaders. But the sense of their overriding allegiance to the Constitution and the nation has, until now, remained a hallmark of military discipline, and a key safeguard against the kind of abuses that have marred the political history of so many supposedly constitutional republics among our neighbors to the south. The military discipline in this respect has had its counterpart among our civilian officials, who have in my experience respected the fact that they should never ask for or openly be seen to act upon partisan political considerations when dealing with the military, and in particular when dealing with our soldiers in the ranks.
Now comes this report about Obama’s recent surprise foray into Iraq:
According to an e-mail from a sergeant in Iraq:
We were pre-screened, asked by officials “Who voted for Obama?”, and then those who raised their hands were shuffled to the front of the receiving line. They even handed out digital cameras and asked them to hold them up.
Take a look at the picture at AP and notice all the cameras are the same models. Coincidence? I think not.
Though in the blogosphere this contrivance has received the attention and outraged criticism it deserves, Obama’s media claque has portrayed the sham as though it were an authentic display of respect and enthusiasm from the front lines. To me, however, the fake enthusiasm is in reality far less repugnant than the open abuse of our troops – officially asking that they declare their political allegiance and giving preferential treatment to those who declare their support for Obama. Whatever the complexities of life at the higher echelons where politics and personal relations must inevitably play their role, inviting and exploiting open displays of political loyalty in the ranks, and even worse at the front lines, shows reprehensible disrespect for a tradition important not only to the integrity of our troops but of our military and our nation as a whole. Whatever show Obama’s people wanted to put on, what their reported actions show beyond doubt is their ruthless disregard for the honorable tradition of non-partisan service that has helped America to avoid the shabby fate of so-called “banana republics” whose constitutions proved as susceptible to rot as the fruit for which they are named.
This behavior bespeaks a Caesar-like ambition to identify and reward not the honorable service, but the political and personal fealty of our military people, so that they eventually become, like the legions of ancient Rome, the personal instruments of demagogues and tyrants rather than the conscientious guardians of the safety and liberty of the constitutional republic. It is also consistent with Obama’s open display of contempt for the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the presidency. Is he making a calculated effort to replace allegiance to the Constitution with loyalty to himself and the dictatorial faction he represents?
Taken together with steps to consolidate dictatorial control over the economy; to establish a KGB-style national security force; to establish a mechanism that could be used to disarm private citizens; to corrupt the census-taking process for political ends; to weaken the nation’s defense capabilities; to erase our borders and encourage invasion and permanent settlement by large numbers of illegal immigrants with no commitment to constitutional self-government; this conscious gesture suggesting the political corruption of our military forces bespeaks a design for despotism that no one who cares for America’s liberty can afford to ignore.
It seems that almost every day there emanates from the Obama faction some new assault on the traditions and decent pride of our people. This one struck me with particular force at the personal level, perhaps because as an “Army brat” I thought of the stinging humiliation it implied for the men and woman essentially told to go to the back of the bus for exercising the right of citizenship that every day they risk their lives to defend. The bombs and bullets of the enemy will not discriminate, as Obama’s minions reportedly did, between the personnel who voted for Obama and those who did not.
Knowing the quiet faith and integrity of most of our military people, I feel certain they will not let the proffered slight interfere with their duty. But I pray that the lesson of their experience will not be lost on the citizenry here at home that they serve. Every day our soldiers prove their fitness for the dangerous but sacred trust they are asked to perform. And every day, Obama gives new cause to doubt both his fitness for the office he dubitably claims, and his allegiance to anything but his own dangerous ambitions. In the face of these ambitions, we have, like our soldiers, a sacred duty to perform. Are we still up to it?