Politics and the Troops
The Washington Post reported this on Friday:
Greg Kelly of Fox News is pursuing a story no one else seems to want to touch. On Tuesday, he filed this report: "Twice last month in speeches to military audiences, the president attacked Democrats and fired back at their accusations that pre-war intelligence was manipulated by his administration. . . .It seems that Bush really wants fascism to be on the march, not freedom. Thankfully, our military consists of honorable men and women who are fully capable of seeing through these despicable acts, and who have sworn to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution. Pray for them. Please.
"The attacks against critics at military settings may have put troops in the awkward position of undermining their own regulations. A Department of Defense directive doesn't allow service members in uniform to attend 'partisan political events.' . . .
"Several members of the military told FOX News that Bush is inviting the troops to take sides in a partisan debate in his speeches.
" 'This is a very bad sign,' said retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, who led Central Command in the early 1990s and is an administration critic. 'This is the sort of thing that you find in other countries where the military and political, certain political parties are aligned.' "
Kelly apparently isn't done with the story. Here he is asking a question at yesterday's press briefing :
"Q Scott, this is going back a little bit, but we've received some complaints from soldiers, both former and current, about the Tobyhanna speech and the Elmendorf, Alaska speech. They cite their own regulations that say U.S. soldiers cannot participate in partisan political activity. But when the President attacked Democrats, they are -- they feel like they were put in the position where they're supporting a democratic cause in uniform. Does the President feel --
"MR. McCLELLAN: Who said that? I think the President was talking as Commander-in-Chief to our troops and talking to them about the war that we're engaged in.
"Q Well, he was talking about Democrats, as well. 'Some Democrats who voted to authorize use of force are now rewriting the past.' He said, 'It is irresponsible Democrats --
"MR. McCLELLAN: That's true.
"Q -- 'claim we misled them.'
"MR. McCLELLAN: Now, I notice -- now, I notice they're not making those same claims recently.
"Q Well, nevertheless, does the President feel like it's appropriate to inject the troops into what is, I think, quite clearly a partisan debate?
"MR. McCLELLAN: No, I disagree. The President is the Commander-in-Chief. No one has been more involved in this war on terrorism than our troops and their families. And our troops understand the importance of the mission."
Here are the transcripts of Bush's remarks at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska on November 14; and Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, on November 11. At the air force base, for example, Bush said that "some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past. They are playing politics with this issue and they are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy."