Respect from the military will have to be earned, Mr. President-elect

ABC News reported today on a visit PEBO made to troops stationed in Hawaii:

President-elect Obama stopped by the Marine Corps base in Hawaii Kaneche Bay where servicemen and -women were eating Christmas dinner in Kailua Thursday evening.

“Just wanted to say hi, hey guys” Obama said as he walked into the Anderson dining hall which was decked out in Christmas decorations.

The diners represented seven military units — Marine and Navy — some of whom were joined by their families for Christmas dinner.

As Obama entered the room, it was absent of the regular fanfare of cheering and clapping. The diners were polite, staying seated at their respective tables and waited for the president-elect to come to them to stand up.

Obama, dressed casually in a blue polo shirt and dark khaki trousers, worked his way around the room — table by table — and took pictures with the service members. He slapped them on the back at times, shook hands, and signed some autographs.

“Hey guys, Merry Christmas” The president-elect said as he walked from table to table.


The president-elect spent about an hour with the troops. Obama transition aides say that Obama did not eat with the uniformed men and women — he ate at his beach home with his family and friends Christmas night.

John Hinderaker writes in response:

I don’t doubt that Obama comes from an anti-military background, much like Bill Clinton, who famously wrote that he “loathe[d] the military.” But Obama knows that he is about to become commander in chief. He seems to be making the right gestures, and I assume he is smart enough to understand that being President requires him not only to be symbolically pro-military, but to take an active interest in the welfare of our troops. Until his actions compel a conclusion to the contrary, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he holds our military in the esteem to which it is entitled. I hope and expect that we’ll see more efforts on his part to build bridges to the military community.

Yeah? It’s gonna take a lot more than “symbolic gestures” like visiting troops in Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, and playing basketball with them in Afghanistan on a trip designed to highlight your “foreign policy creds.” Barack Obama repeatedly and routinely denigrated the mission in Iraq, not just as a US Senator, but as a candidate for Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Whether or not he meant to demean the sacrifices of our troops, that’s exactly what he – and anyone else – did who either said or implied that they were making the ultimate sacrifice for a “lie” … that their deaths were “wasted” deaths. That’s what he did when he noted over the summer that, even knowing the successes that the surge would have brought to the table – including the sharp downturn in violence – that he still would have voted against the surge. It was something he said no doubt to please the anti-war left, whose votes he needed to help him win the election, but it was also something he said that turned the stomachs of the military and those who supported them alike, who realized that not only would the violence and death have escalated as a result of not putting the surge in place, but that the deaths of our servicemen and women over there would have been in vain, because he wanted troops out by March of this year.

As CIC, or one who stands in line to be the CIC, no matter the situation our troops are in as a result of a mission they’ve been sent on on behalf of the United States, a CIC never openly admits defeat, a CIC never denigrates the mission they’ve been sent to fight, a CIC never says that their deaths are “wasted.” A CIC, whether they’ve served in the military or not, should understand – or in Obama’s case, learn – that it’s no small gesture a man or woman takes when they sign up to serve in the armed forces. As soon as they sign their name on the dotted line, they’ve placed their lives on the line to serve and protect this country with honor and dignity, and to represent the interests of the United States no matter what foreign land they step foot on, on the orders of their Commander in Chief.

Barack Obama will be their Commander in Chief in a matter of a few weeks. Until he’s indicated that he has realized his error in some form or another for how he spoke about them and the war in Iraq, until he proves that he realizes, contrary to claims he’s made previously, that the safety and security of Iraq is imperative to us winning in the war on terror and that the mission there must continue, he will not earn their respect beyond that they are required to give whoever sits in the big chair. Respect to them isn’t earned simply because he ran a good campaign that got him elected. Their respect will be earned once he stops uttering meaningless platitudes about “gratitude for service” and starts showing it with more than “just words.”


Hugh Hewitt has some related thoughts.

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