The Commander in Chief got a decidedly cool reception from the troops on a whistle stop at Fort Bliss in El Paso Friday. While this president already is not widely popular with our military, the attitude demonstrated by the shanghaied soldiers in that cavernous hangar was demonstrably cooler than at such past events. The conservative media interpreted that indifferent reception to dissatisfaction with Obama's politics and his repeated failures as CinC, but the event is far more consequential as yet another example of how little the Obama Administration understands the military it commands.
I'm an old non-com who, as a bachelor lived in the barracks, and as such I'm well aware of the excitement that permeates any military barracks in the days leading up to a four-day, holiday weekend like Labor Day. Virtually every soldier has made big plans to escape his military existence for four precious days and spend that time with family or friends. Many will have to use the first and fourth days for travel to and from distant destinations, which means only two, crucial days of holiday pleasure for them, sandwiched between two less pleasant days of travel, especially if they must fly commercially. Take away just one of those days and many of those soldiers' plans will either have to be scrapped entirely or the time at home or whatever destination, be reduced to a single day. Plans made long in advance have to be rescheduled, a sometimes quite difficult task when it regards holiday weekend travel: flight changes may be impossible and hotels are booked solid; neither may allow changes in reservations without severe financial penalties.
So, some hotshot in the Obama campaign, feeling badly stung by the sparse turnouts for the president's visits to other locales, gets a bright idea of how to produce a really big crowd for a photo op: "Hey, let's schedule one for some military facility where the commander can be ordered to produce a big audience in a sufficiently impressive backdrop." It was probably some over-eager, politically correct flack in the Pentagon who suggested the massive hangar at the Fort Bliss airfield, but you can bet it was some clueless member of the campaign with no military experience who picked the incredibly dumb date.
And as with so many other aspects of the disastrous Obama campaign, their scheme to produce a huge crowd ended up giving them another embarrassing black eye. They got their huge crowd all right but it was a silent, sullen crowd that was oozing hostility to the oblivious politician who had ruined their holiday weekend at worst and, at the least, had taken away one-fourth of their free time for his own selfish political gain. That from Democrats, who, knowing that the military is primarily politically conservative, are the first to demand political neutrality from those in uniform.
The resentment created by this incident isn't limited to just those troops ordered to be in that hangar; it is shared by their far-flung friends and family members who won't forget such a narcissistic, selfish, political imposition on their own holiday plans. Nor will it go unnoticed by other members of the military, their families, and the millions of veterans in this country who realize what an arrogant, selfish insult this was. Whoever it was on the campaign staff who scheduled that particular date for a military campaign stop might as well have said, "Here, Mr. President, take this pistol and aim carefully for your middle toe...."