Mittens, Commander-In-Chief Material?

The video message below was produced by the Truman National Security Project, a group of progressives who believe “progressive values and national security go hand-in-hand.”

Imagine that.

Remember how Republicans tried to turn John Kerry, a Vietnam war hero, into a lying fraud? They claimed he was “unfit to serve” as commander-in-chief because all of the combat medals he was awarded were illegitimate. They also claimed that his criticism of the Vietnam War, after he came home, betrayed the trust of our troops and harmed those still in the field.

The swiftboating of John Kerry was one of the most despicable campaign tactics in the modern history of politics.* But it was based on the doggedly persistent but false meme that Democrats are national security weaklings, that we don’t care about the military, or we want to dismantle it and make America a third-rate power. Barack Obama, even though he gave the order that put Osama bin Laden’s body in the bellies of a thousand fishes, is still attacked for being weak on national security issues. Still.

The Truman Project is fighting back against that overarching false meme, which has helped win Republicans so many elections, that Democrats are somehow less interested in protecting the country, less patriotic, and Republicans are the real commander-in-chief types. The project’s mission, which is to recruit and train “a new generation of progressives across America to lead on national security,” is based on a simple premise:

Understanding national security is a litmus test for leadership.

Watch and see if Mittens passes that test:


*Check out this article from the Huffington Post a few weeks ago to see how Republicans slandered Democratic candidate for Georgia State Representative, Scott Holcomb, a Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan veteran. His GOP opponent—who never served in the military—falsely accused him, in a campaign ad, of doing drugs while he was serving in the Army. Yep, Republicans love our troops, as long as they are Republican troops.



  1. The clip sums the issue up well. I am reminded of criticism of Obama’s lack of military credentials a couple years back by a certain Conservative gadfly who took umbrage at his mispronunciation of the word “corpsman” and accused that ” he had to be taught how to salute”. Hmm. Like Obama, Romney has no military background, but unlike Obama, Romney, a former Bishop in a religion with a violent history, indicates a readiness to use the armed forces proactively. Also, there’s every reason to think that, unlike Obama who taught Constitutional law at the college level, Romney is no student of history.

    These differences could give a whole different meaning to “on the job training” because Republicans, including Romney’s Bush-inherited foreign policy advisors, understand very well the value of jingoism. This was refreshed for me yesterday as I read Rachel Maddow’s passages on the invasion of Grenada (Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power). I never appreciated at the time what a ridiculous exercise in high jingoism that was! Food for thought.


    • Treeske

       /  October 29, 2012

      I’ll second that Jim and add that not only Mitt but also his five sons never served in the Military. To the LDS members, Missionary work in order to build a better Mormon character is more important than serving the country which they are so talently exploiting.


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  October 29, 2012

    So now you choose to enter the field of the ability of either man to command our military establishment, right. And you think Obama is the right guy for such matters of course. Well I am more than happy to counter that belief and herein will only use Benghazi as a prime example.

    More and more information is now coming out showing that our response or lack thereof to the terrorist attack on our consulate was an abject failure of the entire National Command Authority, which includes EVERYTHING, including the Commander in Chief himself.

    I won’t bore you with the details of “it was the video” (we HOPE) 2 week response. I won’t even try to debate why more security was not placed in Benghazi before the attack, all pretty lame excuses for sure considering what happened on 9/11/2012.

    But let’s just talk about what SEEMS to have happened during the attack. This involves the late breaking fiasco over the relief of General Carter Ham, Commander of Africa Command, the theater military commander directly responsible for any military responses in Benghazi.

    That Joint Command, a four star Army General was relieved for cause DURING the fire fight in Benghazi. There is no dispute over that FACT nor the fact that Obama has appointed a replacement commander, subject to Senate approval.

    WHY was General Ham relieved?????

    NO FACTS whatsoever have been released by DOD or the administration related to that action to relieve a commanding officer of four star rank DURING a fire fight where Americans were being killed. Again NO FACTS, statements, etc. as to why a four star general is back in Washington cooling his heels pending “further investigation”.

    Try this scenario on for size, one becoming very virulent on the internet and for damn sure my college class mates discussion group, a bunch of retired “military jerks” like me.

    1. A real terrorist attack was underway and various situation rooms, including the WH had real time video from an overhead Predator drone showing the attack as it evolved.

    2. The theater commander, Gen Ham, scrambled forces, including drones and maybe even a “gunship” to both observe and respond to the attacks, 8 hours worth of attacks on two different facilities.

    3. Drones and “gunships” the xxx-130 kind can do lots of harm to “attackers” using laser sighting, etc., close in protection for sure.

    4. A SEAL “sighted his laser” on attackers expecting “bombs away” from supporting aircraft. But he was killed while awaiting help.

    Why no help from seemingly available airborn support sent by the theater commander as you would expect a theater commander to do, I hope. He was told to “stand down” by SOMEONE in the National Command Authority. WHO that was, we don’t know, yet. Why such an order was given, we don’t know, yet?

    In other words if protecting Americans was in fact a priority in a terrorist attack why were available resources NOT ordered into action simply to stall the attack or TRY to stall it and thus save four American lives?

    The “online scenario” even goes farther. It is being reported that Gen Ham did or said “something” and his second in command relieved him on the spot, within “30 secs” as is being told. True or not, who knows but we DO KNOW he was relieved during the fire fight as reported by mainstream media.

    You can discount such information as totally unfounded, rumors, speculation, and attacks on the President from right wing crazies. Go ahead as I expect nothing less from “you guys”. As well I suspect we will not know any answers until after the election.

    This is NOT a political comment or viewpoint. It goes to the very heart of issues related to when and how to use military power to PROTECT America or even Americans finding themselves in harm’s way through no fault of their own.

    There is an OCTOBER SURPRISE for sure but certainly not one the Dem want to see or hear. But it is now “out there” in full force for sure. Ignore it at your political peril.

    If the details are too confounding for “you guys” then try a simpler and more basic point.

    Obama used, wisely, the “Powell Doctrine” when he ordered the raid to kill OBL. Overwhelming force, firepower, surprise, etc. was available and his military commanders and men on the ground used it wisely and successfully. Good use at a tactical level of the Powell Doctrine if you will.

    But sometimes when the shit hits the fan and America or American lives are at stake you don’t have time to assemble Powell Doctrine levels of responses. Instead you do all possible to RESCUE those in harm’s way and stabalize the situation as quickly as possible. There are thousands, tens of thousands of military men and women that would have risked, even given their own lives to rescue that consulate in Benghazi but it now seems they were told to STAND DOWN in such attempts.

    I sure would like to know who gave such orders and why he or she gave them at the time the attack was going on. Absent such an order I am GUESSING that Gen. Ham would have obliterated a whole “field of terrorists” attacking that consulate. After all that is what theater commanders usually do when AMERICANS are under attack!!!

    Then the question becomes, assuming my scenario is anywhere close to accurate, is SHOULD we leave a “field of terrorists” lying around an embassy that is under attack or instead let them take over the facility and kill Americans?

    We did just that in Terhan in 1979, did not use available firepower to “mow down a mob” attacking the embassy. And now it seems we did the same on a smaller scale in Benghazi only there we wound up with four DEAD Americans, not just hostages for over 400 days.

    Would Romney have handled the situation in a different manner? Who knows. Wheeler probably thinks he would use “Mormon tactics” like those used long ago to attack a wagon train in Utah and blame it on the Indians. Can I laugh now just in case he tries that one in response!!!



    • Treeske

       /  October 29, 2012

      Anson, were you as livid about the 4,000 of our people killed due to fabricated intelligence?
      Were you offended by the commander in chief who made fun of not finding the WMD’s even to the extend of filming a comedy segment about it for general Television?
      I agree, the Benghazi tragedy needs scrutinizing, but in comparison with what mentioned above, why now and not then?


  3. Anson,
    The conspiracy theories eagerly regurgitated have been making the rounds on various right-wing websites for several days, sites such as Tiger Droppings, Impeach Obama, The Tree of Liberty, The Conservative Tree House, Red State, The Washington Times, The Gateway Pundit, and my personal favorite, Lunatic Outpost. Less colorful news sources, such as the Associated Press and Reuters, have filed more boring reports. General Ham agreed with Secretary of Defense Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, that there was not enough information at the time to risk the insertion of combat forces into Benghazi. General Ham was not relieved of duty. His departure from AFRICOM was part of routine succession planning.

    Your Ideological Autism makes you susceptible to confirmation bias propaganda. A side effect of IA is a failure to spot words like rumor and unconfirmed. Understanding what these words mean will significantly reduce automatic reaction errors and faulty rush-to-judgment gaffes.

    The only “October Surprise” is you unwrapping Halloween candy before eating it. (This is observational humor and not a declarative statement).

    Remember, Jim must write, “[Romney] would use “Mormon tactics” like those used long ago to attack a wagon train in Utah and blame it on the Indians” before ridiculing the statement. Putting words in another’s mouth and then pretending to mock an unwritten sentence is a problem easily solved by locating the edit app on your word processor. Ask yourself, did he write that or did I? If you wrote it, delete it from the comment. Before long, after eliminating cognitive dissonance, seedy conspiracy falsehoods and delusionary straw men, you will find a precipitous drop in opinion-as-comment word count.


  4. ansonburlingame

     /  October 30, 2012

    And there we have the progressive answer, clear and simple. “General Ham was not relieved of duty. His departure from AFRICOM was part of routine succession planning.”

    General Ham, a Senate approve Joint Commander of four star rank, had served in that capacity for 1 1/2 years. Such tours are normally 3 years and always at least 2 years. March 2013 was his anticpated date of relief.

    But then a fire fight occurs and he is relieved DURING the fire fight or in very close proximity to it. WHY?

    I agree that much of the speculation is from right wing web sites. However the facts are in mainstream media as well. The facts are simple. Ham was relieved and returned to DC, his second in command took charge and a replacement four star has been sent to the Senate for approval. Again WHY?

    McChrystal’s relief was headline news almost instantly and the President himself spoke publicly about the circumstances of that relief. No speculation was needed. Americans found out first hand what had happened (inappropriate talking to a reporter) and what was done about it. But in this case specualtion is rife and rumors rampant. Why not just stand and say what happened and what was done about it and why?

    In response to Treeske,

    Trying to compare how a country decides to go to war and how a field commander and his chain of command react in an emergency fire fight are simply two very different events that defy comparison.

    But if you want to try to do so, consider this. Bush responded with force to a grievious attack on America. Ham MAY have tried to do the same on a much smaller scale but was told to not do so MAYBE.

    Make no mistake, if a field commander tries to “take charge” and violate orders from his chain of command, then instant relief for cause is warrented, for sure. In books, movies and the real world, commanders have been known to pull out a 45 pistol and SHOOT subordinates that violate such orders in combat. The chain of command MUST respond as ordered, period, at any level in the military.

    I am not suggesting that Ham’s relief was unwarrented. Nor am I saying it was in fact the right thing to do. I am only saying I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. And that to me is a travesty of the worse sort, the lack of tranparency over a very serious event during a national crisis. NONE OF US should be kept in the dark over such matters.

    In matters such as this one, the military is very good at developing “lessons learned” from such events. Fundamentally, this one is rather simple. How SHOULD the military react to a terrorist attack on an American foreign facility? What does it “take” to quickly understand what exactly is going on is such events? Real time video is relatively new in such events so how should it best be used? Bottom line is should American security forces “mow down a mob” in certain cases OR instead lay down any available arms and hope for the best in the face of such violence?

    That is a reasonable set of questions because in all likelihood this will happen again. If civilian control of the military makes sense (of course it does) then civilians and military commanders MUST be working from the same set of rules and policies, in normal times and in emergencies.

    If the speculation in this event is anywhere close to being correct then this is a perfect example of the civilian/military chain of command breaking down, dangerously, during COMBAT. THAT is the way one can speculate over the unauthorized release, someday, of a nuclear weapon, God Forbid.




     /  October 31, 2012



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