Thursday, June 24, 2010
THE "NEW" MEDIA
Here's a disturbing fact of my daily news gathering these days. Yesterday on my way down to the Jersey shore with my only living sibling (my sister Irene, the closest to me in age among the six of us who made it beyond childhood—there was a brother between her and me who died as an infant), my youngest child and his nephew, my grandson, both of them soon to be the same age for a few months—twelve—listening to the news on NPR I heard Obama's statement about firing McCrystal and thought it was the most concise, most poignant, most intelligent, reasoned and correct statement I've heard him make yet.
I tried looking it up late last night when we got back from a full and beautiful summer day at the beach, visiting friends, experiencing that great hot day relief of a jump in the ocean, watching the kids have some of the best unencumbered-by-modern-life kind of fun you can have, etc. I tried to find the statement on the web and couldn't.
This morning I tried looking again by reading the NY Times article on the firing but it only quoted a few excepts from Obama's statement and didn't give the full text, even though it was pretty short. And the quotes they used weren't the most important to my mind. So I decided to look up "Obama McCrystal" on Google, and what popped up was all OPINIONS ABOUT THE FIRING but no real reporting of it!
And on the first page of web commentary on the firing the top links were all to rightwing distortions and tirades (e.g. "big government" saying something like Obama CAN'T fire a general (!?!)) etc.
No wonder there are so many idiotic takes on politics and governance these days from so many people I encounter either on line or in person. It's as if we live in a society where people actually believe the world is flat, as if the Enlightenment had never occurred or science was just a means to corporate profits and has nothing to do with helping us interpret reality.
I wish we could start the party of Reason. I'd join. (And if my reading of the Constitution and other founding doctrines is correct, so would most if not all of "the Founding Fathers" and a few of the mothers as well.)
[Thanks to my son Miles for finding the text of our president's statement. Guess it wasn't as succinct as what I heard on NPR. But these were the lines that I saluted:
"Good afternoon. Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country.
I don't make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy. Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully. I've got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform.
But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.
The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. 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.
My multiple responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief led me to this decision. First, I have a responsibility to the extraordinary men and women who are fighting this war, and to the democratic institutions that I've been elected to lead. I've got no greater honor than serving as Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in uniform, and it is my duty to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they are carrying out.
That includes adherence to a strict code of conduct. The strength and greatness of our military is rooted in the fact that this code applies equally to newly enlisted privates and to the general officer who commands them.
...our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals. That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command, and respect for civilian control over that chain of command. And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy."]