Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Justice of Paul Hackett's Defeat

It has been a strange week filled with grief and irony. In the same week when 20 Marines from Ohio were killed in Iraq, a Marine major -- Paul Hackett -- became the first Iraq War vet to run for Congress in Ohio's 2nd congressional district ... and lose.

Hackett disagrees with the war that took the lives of the Ohio Marines this week.

Yet, he volunteered to serve in Iraq. Furthermore, in his campaign, he said that he supported the President's refusal to set a withdrawal date for American troops. And he also supported completion of the mission in Iraq. He was just against the war in the first place.

Usually, Marines are fairly predictable. They are a pretty conservative bunch, for sure. There are some variations, in particular on domestic issues. But when the nation is in peril and its troops are in harm's way, they speak and act as one.

The nation respects its Marines, and gives them deference. Yet, there are a few bad apples and exceptions. Indeed, there are those whose personal ambition and desires take precedence over their service to Corps and country. There always have been, and there always will be.

And it appears that Paul Hackett may be one of those bad apples. And not because he is a Democrat. The problem with Hackett is simply this: He publicly undermined his commander-in-chief, and by extension his fellow Marines, in a time of war. Furthermore, he is untrustworthy.

Hackett said he opposed the Iraq War. He is certainly free as an American and as a candidate for Congress to believe and say this. But a Marine officer knows that his opinions should be shared only so far as they do not undermine the chain-of-command, particularly in a time of war. If politics conflicts with an officer's duty, politics loses.

Beyond questioning the war itself, though, Hackett said several outrageous things that are over the line for any congressional candidate, much less a Marine. For one thing, he called Pres. Bush a "son-of-a-bitch", and then he refused to apologize. He also said that, in a world where OBL and Zarqawi are on the loose, that Pres. Bush is actually the most dangerous man in the world. This is out of the bounds of both sanity and propriety.

Then, to attempt to steal away with the coveted congressional seat in a conservative district, Hackett campaigned essentially as a supporter of the President, emphasizing the "stay the course" message on Iraq. For some reason, he didn't mention that he is a favorite of the Daily Kossacks, or that he is an ultra-liberal. Was our man Hackett less than forthcoming?

But he can't be all that, right? After all, he volunteered for dangerous duty in Iraq.

Yet, I have to ask: He volunteered for a mission he didn't believe in? Call me a skeptic, but this strikes me as odd. Very odd. It sounds like the actions of a young Navy lieutenant who entered the Navy while opposed to Viet Nam War ... and vowed to become the next JFK. Is this what our man Hackett did? We can't know for sure, but the evidence points that way. None of the fawning MSM appear to have asked Hackett why he felt compelled to volunteer in what he believes to be a colossal mistake.

What to say about one who would use the privilege of military service in a conflict they don't support to create a political billboard? For one thing, it smacks of the dishonest tactics used by ambulance-chasing trial lawyers. But that wouldn't fit our man Hackett, or would it?

A quick story ... I was on active duty when Bill Clinton was elected. We called it "Black Tuesday". It was a dark day that started a decline in our military that lasted until 2000. Like nearly every Marine I knew, I was devastated when Bill Clinton was elected. But we sucked it up, and we shut up. And it wasn't even wartime.

Hackett, though, attacked the commander-in-chief in a way that might lead some to call him an SOB.

Marines stick together, generally to a fault. But there are limits. A story is told of the legendary Marine Chesty Puller. One of Puller's Marines had gone wild on a ship and engaged in an embarrassing spree of misconduct that had harmed the reputation of the Marine unit that was serving alongside sailors.

When the Marine was brought forward for non-judicial punishment, the presiding Navy officer asked Puller if the accused was one of his Marines.

"He's not one of my Marines," Puller replied. And with that, the wayward Marine got the punishment he deserved.