The Sounds Of [Righteous] Silence
President Barack Obama was greeted with fleeting applause and extended periods of silence as he offered profuse praise to soldiers and their families during an Aug. 31 speech in Fort Bliss, Texas.
His praise for the soldiers — and for his own national-security policies — won cheers from only a small proportion of the soldiers and families in the cavernous aircraft-hanger.
The audience remains quiet even when the commander-in-chief thanked the soldiers’ families, and cited the 198 deaths of their comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The audience’s reaction was so flat that the president tried twice to elicit a reaction from the crowd.
“Hey, I hear you,” he said amid silence.
The selected soldiers who were arrayed behind the president sat quietly throughout the speech.
CNN and MSNBC ended their coverage of the speech before it was half-over.
The president’s speech to the soldiers is part of his constitutional duties as commander-in-chief.
But Obama and his wife are also trying to reach out to military families in several critical swing-states, including Virginia and Florida.
Throughout Friday’s speech, the loudest reactions came when the president name-checked the nicknames of the soldiers’ brigades. Major military units have their own rival cheers, and those could be heard from portions of the audience when he referred to individual units.
The troops’ silence continued through several obvious applause-lines.
There was isolated cheers when Obama said his withdrawal policy would ensure “fewer deployments … more time to prepare for the future, and it means more time on the home front, with your families, your home and kids.”
The silence deepened when the president lauded his strategy of withdrawal from the war. “Make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and our military even stronger, and ending these wars is letting us do something else; restoring American leadership,” he said amid complete silence.
When he said demobilized soldiers would find jobs because “all of you have the skills America needs,” he got little reaction.
There was no reaction when he promised stepped-up recruitment of soldiers for police jobs.
He won some applause when he announced his support for soldiers injured in combat.
The most enthusiastic applause came when he lauded the soldiers’ military mission, and promised continued support for that professional task.
An anecdote about his meeting with a wounded soldier was met with a tepid response, until he described the soldier’s determination to recover and return to his unit. “He’s where every soldier wants to be – back with his unit,” Obama said, generating applause.
Similarly, his declaration that “around the world there’s a new attitude toward America, a new confidence in our leadership” yielded only silence, while his next sentence — “When people are asked ‘Which country do you admire most?’ one nation always comes out on top, the United States of America” — prompted relative enthusiasm.
The White House’s video-feed cut off 10 seconds after the president finished his speech, before the audience’s reaction overall could be gauged by viewers.
This is the way that our uniformed soldiers, sailors, and Marines should, if they so desire, protest the appalling behavior of their Commander-In-Chief, not via social media or in interviews. There is nothing in their codes of conduct that prevents them from remaining silent when their C-in-C is using them as a political prop and lying right to their faces. These are men of Honor.
The American armed Forces have an admirable history of staying out of politics. While it has not been perfect, it has been better than any other military organization in history. They were sorely tested during the Clinton Presidency and have been even more so during the past several years by a man who despises everything they stand for. If Barack Hussein Obama is re-elected, look for the tensions and resentments to build and, perhaps, break-out.
We expect a lot of our troops and, in the vast majority of cases, they have delivered, but we can, by all that is right and just, only ask them to do so much — we have no right to ask them to compromise their Honor as warriors of Freedom and Liberty. At a certain point, the restraints will break if the Left continues to push them and we should not be surprised if they take action.
That we have come to this point in The United States is another sign of the intensity of The Present Crisis.