Monday, February 16, 2015

"I Cannot Tell a Lie"

This week we celebrate President’s Day.  George Washington, our first President and Commander-in-Chief said, I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”  

In the military, we have high ethical and moral expectations of our fellow servicemen and, even more so, of our commanders, to include, maybe especially, the Commander-in-Chief.  Trust is the glue that holds organizations together.  It’s impossible in words to express the contempt a soldier has for someone, especially a leader, who will lie to them.  This is embodied in West Point's Cadet Honor Code: "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."   

I was a captain in the 75th Ranger Regiment when Bill Clinton became President.  The third stanza of the Ranger Creed says in part, “I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong, and morally straight.”  It was impossible to be unaware of the “bimbo eruptions” -- ultimately highlighted by the scandal involving his dalliance with his subordinate, Monica Lewinsky.  My thought was always, “if he would do that to his wife, what would he do to me?”  I’m sure Mrs. Clinton is a royal pain, but still – he took the vow.  “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”  The DNA evidence said differently, Mr. President.  

The irony: Clinton lied to the entire country and kept his job; a General was fired for telling the truth. The New York Times reported in June of 1993 on an Air Force inquiry finding that “Major General Harold N. Campbell called Mr. Clinton a "dope-smoking”, “skirt-chasing”, “draft-dodging” Commander-in-Chief in a speech last month in the Netherlands.”  In fact, we also knew that Bill Clinton loathed us.   While in England as a Rhodes Scholar, Clinton wrote a letter to COL Eugene Holmes of the University of Arkansas ROTC department thanking him for, “saving me from the draft” and explaining his “loathing the military.”  Sadly, we knew that what the general said was completely true.  Nevertheless, Clinton lied; the General fried.

Shift now to our current Commander-in-Chief.  We all know politicians say things in order to get elected, but principle can only be compromised so much before one is rightly regarded as “unprincipled” or worse, a flat-out liar.  In the military, one of the most disparaging comments that can be made about a leader is to say, “He’s a politician.”   According to a recent Military Times survey of almost 2,300 active-duty service members, “Approval of Obama — never high to begin with — has crumbled, falling from 35 percent in 2009 to just 15 percent this year, while his disapproval ratings have increased to 55 percent from 40 percent.” 

David Axlerod, the Obama political campaign strategist, and later, senior White House advisor, in his new book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics writes that Barack Obama misled Americans for his own political benefit when he claimed:  a) If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; b) Benghazi was the result of a video; c) There is not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS; d) Yemen is a success; e) The border is secure and deportations are higher than ever; or f) None of the above?  If you guessed f, you’re correct. 

Time magazine reports, “Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first (2008) presidential campaign, even as Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. ‘Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a sacred union’.”  As a candidate for president, Obama told Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church that marriage is only for heterosexual couples,  “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.”

King Solomon, purportedly the wisest man to ever live, said, “Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool— how much worse lying lips to a ruler!”  Frankly, I’m not sure if 85% of the military doesn’t like Obama’s difficulty with honesty, his policies, or both.  Maybe Ben Franklin was on to something when he said, “Honesty is the best policy.”

As young George said, “I cannot tell a lie.” What we really need now is a Washington in Washington.

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