Sestak and Veterans Groups Wrong To Criticize Specter Ad

Sestak and Veterans Groups Wrong To Criticize Specter Ad

 “We’re all here because we’re enraged at the fact that someone, anyone in the United States today, would question someone with 31 years of (military) service.”

So said a retired lieutenant general about Arlen Specter’s television ad which stated that Joe Sestak, his opponent in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary, was relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a “poor command climate.”

Other veterans have chimed in with similar criticism of Specter, labeling the Senator and his commercial as “disrespectful” and “unpatriotic,” and adding that it should be off the table to question, let alone criticize, a veteran.

And making the sin mortal, we are told, is that it’s one veteran attacking another.

That line of thinking is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Why should anyone’s record be off limits to scrutiny —veteran or not — especially when that someone is seeking to become a United States Senator?


First of all, allowing anyone’s record to go unchecked is closer to having a dictatorship than a democracy. It goes without saying that our freedom to ask tough questions of our leaders — without fear of retribution — is the cornerstone of a free society.

No one should get a free pass.  No one.

If that ever changes, you might as well pack it in.

Secondly, beyond the tenuous code these veterans like to invoke, it becomes clear that they don’t understand, or don’t want to acknowledge, that two plus two always has to equal four.

Translation: they may not like their candidate being attacked, especially by a fellow vet, but the facts in Specter’s ad are just that—facts.

The issue isn’t whether the commercial is “disrespectful,” but whether it’s true.

And in this case, the facts speak for themselves.

Sestak was a three-star admiral who, in 2005, was fired from his post as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations by then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Mullen. (Mullen now serves as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

Of significant interest is that Admiral Mullen fired Sestak on the very first day Mullen started in his new post.

According to the Navy Times — a reputable source — the reason cited for Sestak’s dismissal was that he created a “poor command climate.”  The publication went on to state, “Sestak was then shuffled into lower-profile desk jobs before he retired in January 2006 as a two-star admiral.”

In fact, many press reports quote another admiral familiar with Sestak as calling his leadership style “tyrannical,” and one in which he commanded “…by intimidation and fear.”

So let’s recap:

1)    Sestak was a three star admiral.

2)    Sestak was fired from his position as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations.

3)    Sestak ended up working at lower profile jobs.

4)    Sestak retired as a two star admiral — a lesser rank than he held previously held.

It is a reasonable assumption that Mullen was so disturbed by what he saw of Sestak’s command climate that he had no problem demoting Sestak.

So when we read a veteran’s quote stating, “he wasn’t demoted,” it becomes obvious that the issue is more about politics than defending a fellow veteran’s record. 

By definition, when an admiral is relieved of command, that’s a demotion. 

And by the way, according to news reports, Sestak has never demanded….

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May 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm Comments (0)