Presidents and Soldiers of Blessed Memory: A Comment UPDATED

As is so often the case, an issue with several important elements has been compressed and distorted, both by politicians and by the media.

Here are a few thoughts on these somber issues, which are now, unfortunately, the subject of mudslinging.

  • It is right and fitting that presidents phone or write the loved ones who gave their lives for our country and for their comrades in arms. How Presidents undertake this terrible responsibility should be their choice.
  • It was wrong and unbecoming of Pres. Trump to criticize his predecessors about their ways of honoring our fallen soldiers.
    • ALL his predecessors were decent, honorable men who took these losses seriously. That should be acknowledged, not turned into a partisan football.
      • UPDATE: We can differ with people politically without concluding that they are, by definition, knuckle-dragging, immoral fools.
      • American politics is being corrupted by our collective inability to differ politically without slinging mud personally.
    • It is beneath the Office of the President to criticize President Obama on this issue. It should be publicly shamed.
    • Trump’s false and undignified criticism was sufficiently upsetting to Pres. George W. Bush, who has been the most dignified of recent ex-Presidents, that he spoke out publicly, at least indirectly criticizing Trump.
      • UPDATE: Steve Bannon’s criticism of GWB on these issues is noxious. Not surprising, but still noxious.

  • It is wrong and unbecoming for others, such as the Congresswoman from Florida, to do the same thing, turning a private moment of grief into her public moment in the spotlight.
    • Her bad behavior was made worse because she took a benign statement by the President and twisted into something malicious.
    • Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, known for her hats and not what’s under them, has now personally attacked Gen. Kelly, a Gold Star father.
    • She’s loathsome.
    • UPDATE: General Kelly incorrectly characterized Rep. Wilson’s speech in Florida at the building dedication. It was not all about her, as he said. She shared the credit for the building. (I am sure he misremembered, rather than lied.)
    • UPDATE: Sarah Sanders statement that Gen. Kelly cannot be criticized is clearly wrong and misunderstands the roll of free speech in our political discourse. That would be true even if Kelly were still an active-duty military officer. Sanders has properly walked back most of her statement, but, like most political figures, she can’t quite say the plain truth: “I was wrong.”
  • The loss of service members in Niger, which gave rise to this controversy, was a tragic military error, compounded by a lot of uncertainty about the events in their immediate aftermath. It is unclear why the military was slow to reveal publicly what happened.
    • The Democrats have implied that it is Pres. Trump’s “Benghazi” (that is, a high-level political coverup). It’s not unless there is a full-scale coverup and months of lying and misrepresentation, as there was after Benghazi.
  • CNN has run the story 24/7. That’s media malpractice. That, unfortunately, is also CNN’s motto.
    • CNN is like a dog with a bone: they bite it and hang on, long after all the meat is gone.



  • Penny Ford
    October 20, 2017

    As a total aside — but I hope a meaningful one — my close friends are returning this autumn after almost 25 years (with a short break for kids to go to high school in the US) running and gradually improving the primary hospital in Niger. In all the news stories about these deaths I never saw mentioned that Niger is *the* poorest country in the world and has been so for some time. The country is so poor that physicians faced with health crises among children must choose among the ill to decide which of the sick can be given supplemental oxygen. I have been shocked again and again to hear the circumstances of the lives of the people of Niger. The question of how we can help is a broad but critical challenge to our national integrity. We can send troops, but we cannot figure out how to get oxygen to every child who needs it? I know these things are not mutually exclusive but I also know that we badly need information to make wise choices about what footprints we leave along our journey as a wealthy power. What does it mean to be “the poorest”? Isn’t it time we found out?

    • Tim Favero
      October 20, 2017

      Penny Ford,

      I agree with you 100%. Why were they in Niger? The short explanation is that we were there to help their military “become” or “train” their soldiers.

      You are correct, there is much more. Why do we not help out with oxygen, clean water, and the ability to help these people fend for themselves economically?

      All of these are valid questions.

      I happen to think that there will be much more criticism until we know, and I also think that this just didn’t happen recently. These types of operations have been going on through several administrations.

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