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Milley, Continued: Forgetting Everything
I forgot something about the performatively heroic Mark Milley and generals insulting presidents, but it looks like everybody else forgot it too. It literally woke me up last night, and my interior monologue called me an idiot. Give me a minute to get to the part I missed. Let’s consider this part three in an ongoing series. Part one is here, and part two is here.
So: Milley has left the building, running his mouth as he went:
"We don't take an oath a king or queen or a tyrant or dictator. We don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don't take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution," Milley during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall near Washington.
He didn’t say it say it, but of course this was universally reported as a slap at that monster Donald Trump, who yearns to be a dictator. Reminder, from a couple of deeply buried paragraphs in the recent profile of Milley in The Atlantic:
So Trump was a vicious and unstable wannabe dictator who…listened to military advice and never gave an illegal order. It’s chilling, isn’t it? Milley’s drama queen act is already old, but stand by for the book and the book tour and Mark Milley talking to Joy and Whoopi about how smart and good he is.
In part two, I made a bunch of comparisons — but I missed a really obvious one, and I haven’t seen it show up in any other coverage: Stanley McChrystal. Right? Doesn’t that instantly make sense?
Commanding the war in Afghanistan, back in 2010, McChrystal and his staff officers made dismissive comments about the administration they served, and made particularly condescending remarks about then-VP Joe Biden, in the presence of a Rolling Stone reporter. They implied, with their jokes, that Biden was….
Okay, brace yourself for this. Have a seat, if you’re not already seated. Hold your chair for stability. I’m sorry for what’s coming.
They implied that Joe Biden was not a smart man.
Deep breaths. Slow, deep breaths. Just hang in there.
Now, it’s pretty clear that all those military officers joking about the idiots in the Obama administration assumed that the reporter would treat it all as off-the-record stuff, outside the boundaries of his work, which is a bad thing to assume. He didn’t: he put it all in the story. In 2010, it was regarded as a crisis in civil-military relations for senior military officers to get caught shitting on the President of the United States and his halfwit VP. McChrystal was summoned to the Oval Office, where Obama personally relieved him of his command — ending his career. Now, watch this closely:
Obama had summoned McChrystal from Afghanistan to answer for remarks he and his aides made in an explosive Rolling Stone magazine article that disparaged the president and other civilian leaders.
“The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general,” Obama said bluntly in the White House Rose Garden as he announced McChrystal’s dismissal.
“It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan,” he said.
See, when generals disparage the president, it undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.
Compare that to the reception offered for Mark Milley’s ongoing public attack, which he began while still in uniform, against a former president, which he began while Trump was still in office.
Trump should have fired Milley, but the important change is us. We have allowed a shift in our political culture in which military officers are allegedly heroic for rebuking and impeding the President of the United States.
We should end this now, and the way to start is to deny Mark Milley his media victory lap. This is unlikely, because Orange Man Bad is so central to the “mainstream,” but some skunks need to show up at that garden party.
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