I wish generals and admirals would get out of the business of endorsing presidential candidates. It's a bad business and can only result in politicization of the relationship between our presidents and our military leaders.
The upside of this list is that it is very heavy on Marines and Navy, and surprisingly light on Army generals (with the notable exception of Tommy R. Franks!). Is the Army the most reliably obedient of our services? I remember an admiral saying at the Naval War College that the Navy is a golden retriever, the Air Force is an airedale, and the Army is a loyal Labrador. (He wasn't sure if the Marines were mastiffs or pitbulls.)
Sometimes a newspaper editorial gets it exactly right. This is one such time. Read the whole thing, if you can. But pay attention especially to the last paragraph, which states that:
As for Mr. Romney, he would do well to consider the example of Republican former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who issued a statement Wednesday lamenting "the tragic loss of life at our consulate," praising Mr. Stevens as "a wonderful officer and a terrific diplomat" and offering "thoughts and prayers" to "all the loved ones of the fallen." That was the appropriate response.
(HT to RD)
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If he's lucky, I think the national security advisor lasts until January. If he is not, he blows up on the launchpad in the middle of the presidential election campaign. His fate, it seems to me, rests in the hands of David Sanger, who broke the news that the American and Israeli governments were jointly conducting a cybercampaign against the Iranian nuclear program, and had successfully inserted a virus that wrecked Iranian centrifuges. If Sanger cooperates with the special counsels looking into the leaks about this highly classified program, things are going to get interesting very quickly.
It wouldn't matter if Sanger, a fine reporter, first got wind of highly classified info from an underling. What matters is what Donilon said when asked by him. The moment of truth likely will be when a government lawyer says, "Mr. Donilon, when Mr. Sanger asked you about 'Olympic Games,' how did you reply?" If Donilon discussed the program with Sanger, he's got a legal problem, I would think.
Hmmm -- anyone remember who Scooter Libby's lawyer was?
That doesn't mean that we should think mission-based orders (and the command philosophy from which that approach is derived) are bad. But it does make me a mite uneasy. Gingrich, someone who had worked alongside him on a defense study panel once told me, is as close as you will find to a modern version of Aaron Burr, by which he meant smart, manipulative, and unethical.
I've only interviewed Newt Gingrich a few times, so I can't say I know him well. That said, this comment, by David Brooks, strikes me as the best analysis I've ever seen of Gingrich:
the two main Republican contenders, we have one man, Romney, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s, and another, Gingrich, who seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s. He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with '60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.
As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated. He would severely damage the Hamilton-Theodore Roosevelt strain in American life.
(HT to Josh K.)
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Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.