The needle on my disgust meter is far into the red zone.
Last night I watched the replay on C-Span of the grilling the House Armed Services Committee gave Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday. It was another display of crass political gamesmanship.
I hadn’t gotten very far into the hearing until it became obvious there wasn’t any real interest in getting the testimony of Secretary Hagel. And among every single Republican on the Committee there wasn’t one single instance of interest in Sergeant Burgdahl either, an American soldier held in captivity for five years by the Taliban.
The sole interest was about how Congress got its feelings hurt because they weren’t consulted before the prisoner transfer.
Some of the Democratic members also questioned the judgment of the decision to release five Taliban prisoners for Burgdahl. But their questioning was reasonable and respectful. But one Republican after another angrily peppered Secretary Hagel with silly scolding and petty lectures.
The level of hypocrisy in the room was in the stratosphere.
Some members decided the reason the president did not consult them before Burgdahl was released was because Congress (mainly Republicans) months earlier had not agreed to the release. So several Republicans accused Secretary Hagel and the president of going ahead with the plan because they knew Congress wouldn’t approve it.
Hagel said that was not the case. The situation was that they simply had no time for the 30 day notice the statute required. He said the deal only fell into place at the last minute and they had to act immediately otherwise Burgdahl might never have been released and perhaps would have been killed. And, under the Constitution, the president does have the authority to disregard any Congressional statute if he believes it necessary in order to fulfill his responsibilities as Commander in Chief.
But most of the Committee members and way too many Americans are not interested in the nuances of this complex prisoner release. Nor do they really care about the agonizing realities of war. Or Sergeant Burgdahl. Or how the lives of our soldiers are often held in the flimsiest balance of anything remotely sane and reasonable. War is far more a scummy obscene business than it is some high act of patriotic morality. But most of us don’t have the will or the courage or the intellectual honesty to consider that.
Too many in Congress, especially in the House, have proven over and over again they only have one agenda. That is to obstruct and discredit president Obama and to create as much chaos in our political system as is necessary for them to win elections.
Had the situation not been as immediate and the president and Secretary Hagel had consulted Congress and allowed the 30 day notice to apply who believes Republicans would have approved the prisoner transfer? I don’t for one minute. They have made it abundantly clear they will never do anything, even if it’s for the good of the country or for even one POW, if it in any way gives credit to president Obama and the Democrats.
I agree that’s a hopelessly cynical assessment of Congressional Republicans and even a handful of Democrats. But I don’t see how anyone who is really interested in being honest about it can see it any other way.
One soldier’s life is spared from the cruelty of a foreign enemy. And all Congress cares about is humiliating those who secured his release.
I don’t know about you but that thoroughly disgusts me.
© 2014 Timothy Moody