Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is getting a free pass simply because he served in the military.
President Obama, the press, and several senators have praised Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s military service as a qualifier for the job. White House officials believe that Republicans would find it difficult to vote against a war hero. Obama: “With Chuck, our troops will always know, just as Sergeant Hagel was there for his own brother, Secretary Hagel will be there for you.” NY Times, Myra McPherson claimed that as “a grunt who has seen war from the trenches,” Hagel would not plunge America recklessly into war the way Donald Rumsfeld did. Mr. Hagel would be the first enlisted combat veteran to be defense secretary, a grunt who has seen war from the trenches. Others who have plunged America into war — like the former defense secretaries Robert S. McNamara and Donald H. Rumsfeld, both former officers — had never fought in combat.” Senator McCain: “I just want to make it clear, Senator Hagel is an honorable man. He has served his country, and no one on this Committee, at any time, should impugn his character or his integrity.”
There are some who decide whether to support a particular war, or specific war tactics, based on whether a republican or democrat sits in the White House. And it appears that many, the liberal press in particular, decide who’s qualified, who to trust, and whether military service is important, based on that person’s party affiliation. In terms of respect, it certainly didn’t seem to matter to the press that the senior George Bush was a military hero. During the Reagan administration, the military service of Oliver North (Silver and Bronze Star), Meese, Weinberger, Poindexter, and McFarlane, had no bearing on the relentlessness of liberals to try to destroy these men’s careers and reputations.
The nation should honor its veterans. But whether or not an office holder, or potential office holder was in the military several decades ago, should not qualify or disqualify a person for this type of job. Or for that matter, whether the candidate had a minor brush with the law, attended an ivy-league school, or even graduated high school forty years ago. Some eighteen year-olds dislike school, are immature troublemakers, and are hopeless ne’er-do-wells. But many turn out just fine later on in life. Others get worse as they get older. Veterans Timothy McVeigh (Bronze Star), David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, James Earl Ray, and Lee Harvey Oswald, come to mind. In the Nixon administration, veterans Nixon, Agnew, Haldeman, Erlichman (Distinguished Flying Cross), Colson, and Mitchell didn’t become famous law-breakers until later in life. And let’s not forget Senator McCain’s old pal — WWII Navy fighter pilot Charles Keating.