During the 1960’s as a college student, I became involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement. My view of the war changed from one of indifference to opposition as President Johnson expanded our involvement and more of our young men were killed in action. This opposition was directed toward our government’s policy – never to those who had enlisted or were conscripted into this war.
When I first began working to end the United States’ engagement in southeast Asia, mine was a minority opinion. But as more of our fathers and sons and brothers fell in battle, what had started as a movement of college students spread throughout the country. The protest marches soon included mothers and fathers and grandmothers and the American people en masse demanded the war end. And those in Washington heard their voices and we brought our troops home.
Unfortunately, the antipathy to this war became so great that it carried over to those who had served in it. Those who would now be called members of the ultra-left treated those returning soldiers with scorn and disrespect. They did everything they could to shame them for exercising their consciences and doing what they viewed as their duty. It’s amazing that a movement that for many of us was a plea for peace could be so mis-interpreted by some as a vehicle for them to exhibit anger and hatred.
I offer this backdrop to you because today the ultra-left is thoroughly in charge in Washington. And it shouldn’t surprise any of us who lived through Vietnam that the same attitudes and tactics that they exhibited fifty years ago are still part and parcel of their playbooks today. The goal is to enforce their philosophy on everyone and convert them to their way of thinking – irrespective of the tactics that they feel they must employ to achieve that end. To them, the end always justifies the means.
That brings us to the question of how our CIC, President Obama and his administration is dealing with the partial government shutdown. Are they simply trying to deal with the reduction of less than one fifth of government by efficiently trying to manage resources, or are they trying to make a statement by taking actions which seek to score political points? I believe the latter conclusion is inescapable if a person reviews the evidence.
Perhaps the most egregious of the President’s actions are the closing of the WW II Memorial and the refusal to pay for the families of five of our soldiers and marines who died this weekend in Afghanistan to attend their return home at Dover Air Force Base.
The Administration spent limited resources to erect barriers to prevent World War II veterans who flew to Washington on honor flights to view the memorial erected in their honor. The veterans, in their eighties and in wheelchairs broke down the barricades to this open air memorial in order to view it. Fortunately, those in the Park Service who are responsible for maintaining the memorial did not stand in their way and, reportedly, some of those encouraged them to do so.
What must be the view by those veterans of a CIC who attempts to prevent them from viewing a memorial that was established to honor them for their service? If you’ve seen any of the interviews with those vets, you know the answer to that question. And they’re not part of the 37% of Americans who give the President a favorable rating.
Then there are the four servicemen and one servicewoman whose remains were brought home yesterday. Their families, who would normally be flown at government expense to attend their return, had to have their trips funded by a private not-for-profit organization. The excuse by DOD Secretary Hagel was that despite the fact that the Congress passed a bill to make sure that funds were available for this purpose, the law presumably was deficient the way it was written according to DOD lawyers. Both the Secretary and the President expressed “outrage” at this situation.
Well, how outraged can the two of them really be? Frankly, it’s hard for me to picture Sec. Hagel being outraged at anything. He barely has a pulse – and his level of competency might be in the single digits. Why, when he learned about his legal department’s concerns didn’t he bring this immediately to the CIC’s attention? Or did he? That is one of the burning questions that is, at this moment, unanswered. Supposedly the Pentagon knew and warned this might occur four days before the partial government shutdown occurred.
The problem could have been corrected immediately by President Obama with a pen stroke on an Executive Order. The President is familiar with this process. He has used it 19 times to amend Obamacare. Perhaps it was the overriding agenda of this administration to try to embarrass its opposition that was the primary motivation for allowing this to happen.
Politics is a dirty business. But someone needs to explain to Obama that he no longer is running for office. If he continues to dishonor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, he might find that he will have one last political battle. That will be running from the reputation and legacy he has created.