With less than half of one percent of Americans now serving in uniform, the elites of Washington are happy to thank us for our service, graciously accepting two centuries of freedom as their natural birthright. In America, civilian leaders control our military, a tradition reinforced by law and custom. The deal is that our armed forces give those civilian leaders our service and deference, while they give us orders and respect. Or at least they did until quite recently.
Take the case of Mike Pompeo, just confirmed as our Secretary of State after an unexpectedly tough fight. You might think that an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, former congressman and CIA director would have had all the right credentials for the job of secretary of state — enjoying the same bipartisan consensus once extended to Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Yes, but they were all Democrats while Mr. Pompeo was nominated by Donald Trump, totally erasing the distinction of graduating first in his class at West Point, not to mention five years of service as an armor officer on what was then the front line in West Germany.
Naturally, Pompeo was opposed by a cabal of Democrats, from the recently acquitted Robert Menendez of New Jersey to Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Senator Warren took particular umbrage because Pompeo had once complained about the unholy silence of Muslim leaders after the Boston Marathon.
But maybe elevating politically incorrect statements above honorable service is just what Democrats do.
Or consider the latest cause célèbre: the public trashing of Rear Admiral Ronny L. Jackson. Just like with Pompeo, you might wonder how Admiral Jackson’s infamy remained hidden for so long. Sen. Jon Tester, ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, detailed Jackson’s misconduct for reporters: a pill-throwing drunkard who had crashed government vehicles and (worst of all) created a hostile workplace environment. Was this any way for a White House physician to behave? Why if confirmed as VA Director, he might give a whole new meaning to Veterans Affairs! How could the president have failed to anticipate the knee-slapping hilarity which would surely greet his nominee in cynical press warrens all over town?
Deeply embarrassed, Admiral Jackson withdrew his nomination long before any sensible context kicked in. Becoming a Navy physician involves levels of examination most Americans can never imagine: Promotion to Rear Admiral and clearance for a top-secret billet even more so. But any assignment to the White House staff not only brings intense high-level scrutiny but also involves the Secret Service, notably humorless on matters involving medical supervision of a president. Keep in mind that Doctor Jackson served Presidents Bush (43), Obama and Trump — all of whom praised his service and fidelity.
So who’s lying? Those current and former presidents, the Secret Service, NCIS investigators or all those hyperactive Pentagon admirals? Or could it be Sen, Tester, possibly misled by over-eager members of his staff? My money would not be on those unnamed “military people” Senator Tester claimed as his sources but instead on former members of the Obama White House staff.
Because skullduggery based on lies and half-truths is just what Democrats do.
Sen. John Cornyn was right to worry about the lasting effects on public service when nominees can expect such barrages of “rumors and hearsay…I think the country is worse off because of that.”
But that legacy of hit jobs really began in April, 2008 when The New York Times published a 7,000-word, front page “expose.” It charged that the Rumsfeld Pentagon, in a covert program to manage the news, had co-opted the retired military officers appearing on network television.
Full disclosure: I was then a military analyst with NBC News. I was named in that article together with more distinguished colleagues: Generals Barry McCaffrey, Robert Scales and the late General Wayne Downing, father of American Special Forces. In addition to currying favor with Pentagon elites, “Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.”
I had no such ties but precisely on cue, 40 Democratic Congressmen, as well as Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, demanded formal investigations to corroborate a story that eventually won the Pulitzer Prize. It eventually took three years, millions of taxpayer dollars and four separate Federal investigations before we were exonerated of any wrongdoing. I also had the satisfaction of proving that the Times had mysteriously concealed the existence of “Warheads,” a book I wrote about the Pentagon briefing program 18 months before their “expose” appeared.
No matter because Pulitzers are never revoked and by then Barack Obama had been elected. With political-media complicity thus ratified, Congress never apologized for their role in disparaging the honor of old soldiers.
Because that is just what Democrats do.
Colonel Ken Allard is a former Army intelligence officer, West Point professor and military analyst for NBC News.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.