by Andy Weddington
Sunday, 09 August 2015
"I think 'Hail to the Chief' has a nice ring to it."
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Previous commentary marked Dr. Ben Carson, Mrs. Carly Fiorina, and Mr. Donald Trump as three serious GOP candidates for the presidency. And did so because they are different - they do not have elected political title (e.g., Congressman; Senator; Governor) before their names.
Following past Thursday's debate they remain the most interesting and competitive candidates for the GOP nomination to me.
Though well known and respected in their fields of expertise - medicine, business, business - not so well known are they to the citizenry at-large. That is changing quickly but more we need to know.
A two panel debate format - one of the 14 politicians the other three as the headline event - was proposed in that previous commentary.
That didn't happened. So goes politics. Regrettable.
However, during their brief minutes of speaking time America did learn more about each.
During the first debate of seven we learned Mrs. Fiorina is a powerhouse of intelligence, wit, charm, and speaks with directness and authority. She does not mince words. She is dominating. And dominate her panel she did.
During the second debate of 10 we learned Dr. Carson, too, is remarkably intelligent, has a sense of humor and gift for delivery, is calm by nature and thoughtful. He practices thinking before speaking. There is something reassuring and endearing about him.
And we were reassured, love or hate him, the flamboyant Mr. Trump is his own man - a man who can not and will not be bullied or bought. He speaks truth. He speaks with color. And he is a refreshing character's character.
Each of the three intriguing.
Each surely capable of being an effective president.
As organizations - surgery teams; businesses; corporations; military units - take on the personality of their leader so do countries take on the personality of their president. Vividly the Reagan years come to mind and a feeling of patriotism and American strength not duplicated until the 9/11 attack. But that has been destroyed. Clearly we see that today - an angry, frustrated, and divided land is America.
So with today's poor national psyche and consequential self-destructive behavior in mind, what tremedous opportunity Dr. Carson, Mrs. Fiorina, and Mr. Trump have before them to lead - to reconcile and unite.
Back to the first debate...
There is ongoing spirited discourse in the public arena about the questions Fox News moderators posed. Opinions and positions - from candidates, pols, pundits, critics, and the average Joe - are still afire on social media and range from tough to fair to GOP sell out to personal attacks to a left wing hit job.
Agreed. All of the above and then some.
Questions covered the necessary gambit - from national to international matters. Fine.
And some unnecessary, at least at this point, personal life probes. Not fine - moving into the 'reality show' genre vice serious debate. Frankly and sadly, the Jerry Springer Show came to mind.
Marines (all veterans) want to know about positions on national security, defense, and particularly perspectives on and leadership of our military.
Few of the 17 candidates have any military experience. Most talk the need for strong defense but what does that mean?
Dr. Carson, Mrs. Fiorina, and Mr. Trump did not serve in the military.
For them, some initial questions...
1. Four Americans, including our Ambassador, were murdered during an extended, coordinated attack in Benghazi, Libya, on 11 September 2012. Their desperate pleas for help, for firepower, went unanswered for hours and hours. In the immediate aftermath (and continuing), President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and Ambassador Rice repeatedly lied, well knowing facts and truth, about the reason for the attack and not ordering military to dispatch help. What are your thoughts on the attack; leadership's handling - prevention through coverup; and what, specifically, would you have done differently?
2. As President Obama did, would you have traded five enemy Taliban battlefield commanders held at Guantanamo Bay for one confirmed American battlefield deserter - Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, U. S. Army?
3. What are your positions on capturing, detaining, and interrogating the enemy?
4. Despite force and equipment cuts, America's military is the best educated, trained, and capable force in the world. Senior officers are seasoned experts with decades of experience. As commander in chief, will you give mission orders to the Secretary of Defense and permit field commanders to do their jobs? And, will you demand senior officers give their best military advice without regard to political concerns and without fear of retribution?
5. During the past seven years our military has been subjected to social experimentation in the name of making it appear more a small bite of America rather than as the unique capable and feared force it must be for national security. At present, politics and agendas and career concerns, not warfighting prowess, are forcing the integration of women into ground combat elements to include infantry and specialized forces. For a host of reasons this is problematic. What are your thoughts on the changes forced upon our military; good order and discipline; and combat readiness? You need not answer until after watching and thinking about the perspective (timeless testimony given in 1991 before the Senate Armed Service Committee) of General Robert H. Barrow, USMC (27th Commandant of the Marine Corps) - a Marine for 42 years and combat decorated in three wars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy--whDNNKk
6. To the President and commander in chief obedience from soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines is a given - it is required by oath. But their respect must be earned. What makes you, having never worn their uniform, think you can command and lead them?
President John F. Kennedy, a combat decorated World War II Navy officer, said, "When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we'd been saying they were."
Guess what, Dr. Carson, Mrs. Fiorina, and Mr. Trump?
When one of you is elected President - gets into office - things are going to be worse than all have been saying (and seeing).
And the thing is ... that should come as no surprise.
"It's President Barack H. Obama's fault!"