It Used to Have a Name

I’ve been away, attending a weekend hashing event in Colorado, shirking my duties as a blogger.  We’re only just home . . . still unpacking, in fact . . . so this entry will be disorganized and short.

Passing through Albuquerque last Thursday on our drive north, I heard on the radio that some New Mexico school districts were planning to give parents the option of keeping their children home during an upcoming education address by President Obama.  What I heard disturbed me, because it brought back a still-sore memory.

Sometime during 1999, when I was a defense contractor training A-10 pilots at Davis-Monthan AFB, an active duty USAF lieutenant colonel waylaid me in the hallway and delivered a rant about then-President Clinton.  His comments about Clinton were so disparaging and disrespectful that I felt it necessary to point out that, like the man or not, the president was his commander in chief.  He responded by saying “He’s not my commander in chief.”  Call me naïve, but I was shocked.

I joined the USAF during the administration of President Nixon, a man whose policies and politics I opposed, a man I personally despised.  But I took an oath of office and he was my commander in chief.  Throughout my career, under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, I always respected the office of the President of the United States regardless of my personal views.  I knew that if there ever came a time when I could not serve a particular president there would be only one honorable choice: to resign my commission.

To my mind, the lieutenant colonel’s words were treasonous.  To this day I’m ashamed of myself for not picking up the phone and reporting him to the wing commander . . . and telling the lieutenant colonel I was doing it, and why.

So let me jump back to the present.  During our drive home from Colorado, yesterday and today, during the stretches where we could get radio reception, I learned more about the right-wing opposition to Obama’s education speech, opposition organized by prominent Republican operatives and media figures.  I was disgusted.

Had Democrats done to President George W. Bush what Republicans are doing today to President Barack Obama . . . had there been an entire cable television network and an almost across-the-board AM radio monopoly dedicated 24/7 to opposing every single thing President Bush said or did or planned . . . had Democratic members of congress or Democratic state governors openly declared not only their opposition to President Bush but their wish that he would fail . . . had liberal parents from coast to coast kept their children home from school to keep them from hearing a speech on education given by a conservative president . . . Republicans would have called it treason.

And rightfully so.

Fox News hosts and right-wing radio “entertainers” used to constantly remind us, during George W. Bush’s time in office, that he was our commander in chief.*  Where are they now?  Actively encouraging their listeners and viewers to disrespect, ignore, oppose, even sabotage the work of President Barack Obama.

It’s time to do something about that.  What can I, one person, do?  I can write to military leaders, my congressman, and my senators.  For example: whenever I go on base these days, lobby televisions are set to Fox News.  Our forces overseas listen to Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio.  I’m going to write to the local wing commander and to the chief of staff of the USAF, with copies to my congressman and senators, reminding them that we are at war, that President Barack Obama is commander in chief of the nation’s armed forces, and that there is an inherent conflict between executing the orders of the commander in chief and at the same time allowing or passively encouraging the troops to watch and listen to treasonable and seditious speech by media figures who have publicly declared their goal of bringing down this administration.

* Unless you were a member of the military, George W. Bush was never your commander in chief.  But he was your president, and mine.  Just as Barack Obama is now your president, and mine.

© 2009, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


2 thoughts on “It Used to Have a Name

  • I agree! As an AF Brat, I heard similar sentiments from my (late) father. I had thought that after Bush left office I wouldn’t hear any more snarky stuff from my friends and family from “the middle” – but now I get anti-Obama stuff all the time. Sigh. I certainly don’t “do” Fox news…..

  • I sent this letter to the commander of Davis-Monthan AFB today:

    When I visit DMAFB, I see public area televisions — DMAFB clinic, pass & ID waiting room, etc — tuned to Fox News. I believe there is a DoD regulation or AF instruction mandating that public area televisions be set to CNN. Whether or not that is still in effect, public area televisions should be tuned to a neutral news source, not a politically partisan one.

    Increasingly, Fox News has dedicated itself to opposing the current administration and now appears to be actively working against President Obama. The thrust of Fox News commentary has gone beyond policy disagreements, and is now directed at undermining President Obama in every aspect of his administration.

    During my USAF career, I served under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. Regardless of my personal political opinions, I always respected the office of the President of the United States, and served each Commander in Chief to the best of my abilities.

    There is a clear and fundamental conflict between the military’s embrace of a partisan television network devoted to undermining and ultimately destroying the President of the United States, and supporting our Commander in Chief in peace or war.

    Please take an active role in directing 355th Wing units to control what is being shown on public area televisions.

    Paul Woodford, Lt Col, USAF, retired

    I’m working up letters to the USAF chief of staff, my congressman, and my senators. I’ll post those here as well, and will let you know if I get any response.

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