If a soldier who volunteered to serve in the military rapes or murders someone while in uniform, has he served honorably? Has Bradley Manning, who voluntarily joined the military and then betrayed his country by turning over hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks, served honorably? Did Benedict Arnold, another volunteer, serve with “honor and distinction”?
According to the logic of our national-security adviser, Susan Rice, they all did. Merely because they volunteered in the first place. Lieutenant Calley of My Lai Massacre fame? “Honor and distinction.”
Ms. Rice is aggressively stupid, immaculately clueless, and a disgrace to our system of government, but one does have to admire her tenacity. Late last week, Rice tried to extract herself from her effort to sell Private Bowe Bergdahl as a hero who served, as she had put in on ABC’s This Week
, “with honor and distinction.” (The rank of private is correct, in that his promotions were phony.) In her attempted walkback, Rice claimed that anyone who ever signed on the dotted line had served honorably: “What I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”
If this administration cannot embrace our military, might it not at least stop insulting those in uniform? No soldier is finally judged to have served “with honor and distinction” until his or her service is complete. There’s a glaringly obvious reason for that.
Of course, we’ve heard a series of increasingly ugly comments from White House staffers as their lionization of Bergdahl has collapsed. Administration hacks who have never served our country in any useful capacity stage-whispered that right-wing activists were “swiftboating” the reputed deserter. In fact, it was the other way around: The real character assassinations were launched from the White House, and they targeted soldiers from Bergdahl’s platoon who had, indeed, served with honor and distinction. Those courageous young men stood up for justice, refusing to allow the administration’s blithe betrayal of military values to prevail. In response, White House loyalists insinuated that Bergdahl’s comrades in arms might be psychopathic. This is Chicago politics leveled against truly honorable soldiers — yet more evidence of this president’s disdain for those in uniform.
Then, on Sunday, the New York Times front page — once again indistinguishable from its self-abusing editorial pages — snarked that Bergdahl’s unit was “known for its troubles” and that (Lord preserve us!) the soldiers in Bergdahl’s battalion, on dangerous duty at a harsh outpost, weren’t always properly attired. Well, ending the draft was great for our military, but dreadful for the country. Anyone who had served even a couple of months as a private at Fort Hood would grasp that soldiers sweating on sunbaked ground in eastern Afghanistan generally do not display the spit and polish of the Old Guard drill team performing in Washington, D.C.
And perhaps those bold reporters from the New York Times would like to criticize the imperfect field uniforms of SEAL Team Six or our Special Forces? To their faces?
Doubling down on its shamelessness, the same front page applauded Obama for personally ending a failed strategy in Afghanistan — without bothering to mention that the truly catastrophic, troop-killing “strategy” was Obama’s own. The revisionism is worthy of the heyday of Chairman Mao.