I remember quite well when various former agency workers put out books that were taken to criticize or dislike President Bush. Any passage that seemed to embarrass the president were leaked ahead of time and got lots of gleeful publicity from the press.
Any former White House type who would attack the president or criticize him were given the red carpet treatment on news shows and talking head programs. Books by guys like Scott McClellan were cheered by the news media, and even criticized for not being written earlier, such as in this interview by Judy Woodruff on the News Hour in 2008:
But that leads to something that a lot of people are wondering here about why you waited to say it until now. Why not speak up when there was a chance to, if not change things, at least let people know that there was some what you`re now calling propaganda or misleading going on?It can't come soon enough or often enough!
Now, as Ace of Spades points out on his HQ, the standards have shifted. Now its a Democrat president that the news folks like and former Secretary of Defense Gates has written a book with some criticism in it. Now suddenly its all wrong to even consider such a book , and Ace offers a few links and some quotes such as these:
Doesn't this book hurt the troops you claim to like?
Doesn't this book hurt the troops you claim to like?
So there's a bit of inconsistency here, a notable hypocrisy in play. What was once welcome, wonderful, and proper - a shining of light on the rats in power - now is suddenly a shameful betrayal that hurts the troops. And Ace is right, that's despicable and transparently partisan pom-pom shaking.
However, what Ace, and nobody else I've read on the right, has noted is that the right is doing the same thing. As soon as Gates' book came out, there were gleeful bits from it posted all over the place. See what a lousy commander in chief Obama is? See how he hates the troops? See how incompetent he is? See what an idiot the president is? Huh? Huh?
Now, when McClellan's and all the other "I'm gonna cash in on Bush hate" books came out, I had a problem with what they were doing. It did hurt morale, it did hurt American esteem worldwide, it did hurt the president's ability to do his job, it did embolden our enemies. And guys like Ace were pointing that out at the time just like I did in blog posts. This is a bad idea, with bad timing.
But nothing has changed about that. Its still a bad idea, with bad timing. Just because it kicks your enemy in the mangerines doesn't make it okay suddenly. Integrity and honor is about being consistent and truthful regardless of how it hurts you. Especially when it hurts you.
If its a bad idea to publish stuff that's damaging to the president and the war, its bad no matter who the president is.
I understand the difference here for people. The left thought President Bush was the greatest evil that has ever walked the earth and no horror or catastrophe was beneath his wicked scheming idiot chimp ways. And the right thinks President Obama is a hapless incompetent way in over his head but still managing to impose communism on the nation and destroy it from within as part of a nefarious Cloward-Piven scheme.
I happen to agree that President Obama is lousy at his job and is running the war poorly. I agree that the troops probably don't have very high morale already and that they are not his biggest fans, at least most of them, according to polling and anecdotal evidence.
But that doesn't make this okay, either way. When people's lives are on the line, you have to be more careful. When people are fighting a brutal, hateful enemy and trying to protect you and me - and freedom - then you have to show greater restraint and caution.
Gates didn't write this book out of some compulsion that the truth must be known! At least, that wasn't his driving interest. He wrote this book because a publisher backed a truck full of cash to his door for it, and because he had stories to tell. In truth, its doubtful he actually wrote most of it, few of these fellows do, but its not impossible.
The thing is, this is a terrific example of the need for honesty and integrity. I've written in the past about playing for the team and why its so wrong. The old saw about "no enemies on my left, no friends on my right" (or reverse the political positions if you wish) is not about truth or honor, it is about power. And that attitude, while all too easy to adopt, is part of why things have gotten so contentious and angry in America.
I remember not all that long ago (before 2001, basically) when people of different political positions were able to disagree without hating each other, and you wouldn't end up with a screaming match every time politics came up.
And if both sides would cling to truth, honor, and integrity, then we wouldn't end up with it happening so often. We have to stop presuming evil of those who disagree with us. I get picked on and laughed at because I'll find good in President Obama. When I see him trying to accomplish some goal I think is a very bad idea, I believe he's doing so because he thinks its a good idea. He's not some cackling villain twirling his mustache as he plots misery and downfall, he is trying to do what he's been raised to think is correct and proper.
When someone you disagree with does something, don't assume the worst of them. That's called "calumny" and its just wrong and hateful. When someone you disagree with does something you like, don't find some excuse to attack it, give them credit. This level of integrity makes you a better person, can positively influence the society around you, and hey, you never know, maybe they might do more of that next time.
The worldview of the people in power on the left is almost entirely bankrupt - there are exceptions, but they're basically mired in relativist trash and for them hypocrisy, shame, and lack of integrity is nearly impossible because they don't really hold to anything except gaining more power to implement their ideas, at any cost, and with any behavior.
But that doesn't mean they cannot do anything right or every single thing they do is filled with evil purpose and destructive intent. And those of us on the right need to not follow down their path. We can see what it does and where it leads. The goal for us should not ever be power, but truth and right. We should always seek liberty and justice, with honesty and integrity, not the power do what we wish.
Because if we slouch off into the same attitude and territory, then we don't deserve to win, don't deserve power, and will be as corrosive and bad for the nation and people we claim to love as we believe the left is. And then, nobody wins.
Power is a tool to serve with, it is something to be used to help, construct, and serve others, not to rule, dominate, and impose one's wishes. No matter how great you think those wishes happen to be - that's what the left thinks, too.
This little episode with Mr Gates' book is a great chance for the right to show at least some reluctance to yell, and perhaps a bit of integrity and show we have truth on our side. Come on, guys. Lets do something right and constructive for our community, family, and country okay?