Michelle Obama military props

I didn’t watch The Academy Awards last night, but I did stay up until around 2:00 a.m., at which point I ran across a Hollywood Reporter story about First Lady Michelle Obama presenting the award for Best Picture. I was a little groggy, but one part stood still made me scratch my head.

Apparently, Harvey Weinstein put together some super-secret mission to film the spot as a surprise. Fine. But then part of his little entourage suggested members of the military take part:

According to Academy president Hawk Koch, the plan came from Weinstein and his daughter, Lily. Koch and Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron loved the idea. And when it was pitched to the first lady, Zadan told The Hollywood Reporter that her response was, “Yes, I think it’s a great idea. We watch movies all the time at the White House. Let’s do it.”

So, two weeks ago, Koch and the producers borrowed Disney’s jet for a flight to D.C. They told their colleagues, though, that they had to go to New York for the day. “The planning of it was like ‘Argo’ — it was a C.I.A. mission, it was so complicated. We didn’t even want anyone to know where we were going,” Zadan said.

Once they arrived, they joined up with Weinstein and his daughter and then they all met with members of the first lady’s staff to hammer out the details. The staff took them through the available White House rooms so they could select one for the broadcast. They were asked whether the first lady should appear alone or with a group, and the producers suggested having members of the military join in.

I went to bed thinking, “Why the hell would they randomly have her flanked by military personnel?” Then, I woke up and it turns out that Matt Drudge and quite a few people on Twitter were thinking the same thing.

Twitchy Obama military propsIn the grand scheme of things, this isn’t nearly as bizarre as President Obama using children as human shields, but it does beg the question: What is wrong with these people? It was like they preemptively sought to mitigate any criticism of the First Lady taking part in the show by smattering in a few military personnel in the background. You could practically read Mr. Zadan’s mind: “This has nothing to do with liberal Hollywood having ties with a liberal president. It was good and wholesome and true because, umm, troops were there. And troops are good. And stuff.”

It’s fitting that during the broadcast that Hollywood would make weird Roman Polanski rape/orgy jokes, because Oscar night is really just about all of Hollywood and its friends getting together in one room to intellectually lube up egos. Here’s the message for viewers: We’re stars. We’re cool. Michelle Obama is cool. And the troops are cool … as long as the Commander in Chief is a Democrat.

When you’re a Democrat, you can drone Americans and no one says a thing. When you’re a Democrat, you can sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act, and no one says a thing. When you’re a Democrat you can make a big deal about campaign fiance reform, and then do everything in your power put more money into politics … and no one says a thing. Correction: no one says a thing until after you’ve been reelected.

Just for giggles, watch Jay Carney try and make the case that an organization that morphed from President Obama’s campaign apparatus into a non-profit that “forwards” his agenda has nothing to do with Obama. In response to whether or not you can buy access to Mr. Obama for $500,000, the answer is a long-winded statement that must be read like a robot to make sure it’s legally sound.

Expect White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to start giving briefings surrounded by U.S. military personnel tomorrow.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

16 comments

  1. Where’s the outrage? I don’ see any flag officers resigning in protest over the Obummer abuse of the military. Petraeus only exited because he got caught with his hand in the nookie jar.

    The military itself needs to show some cojones over what’s going on at the highest levels.

    1. Petraeus ultimately did himself in with his behavior, but I think he also made some powerful enemies in the CIA … who took advantage of his indiscretions to force him out.

      I still have no idea what the heck he was thinking. I mean … I do, but … come on man. He threw away an entire career and probably left his marriage in shambles for a stupid fling.

  2. OUTRAGE!!! Outrage I tell you! A few troops stood behind the First Lady as she presented an award at the Oscars? Wait, what? That’s all? Hold on, Drudge doesn’t like it. OUTRAGE!!!

    Never us mind that Reagan taped a video segment that played at Oscars during his presidency and Roosevelt recorded a radio segment that played at another Oscars…

    THE FIRST LADY PRESENTED AN OSCAR. OUTRAGE!!!

    1. I questioned the use of troops before it was on Drudge. I state that in the piece. My problem isn’t with her giving an award. My problem is with her using troops as props. That’s pretty straight forward. I’m not sure why you feel the need to do the mocking all-caps things (especially since I don’t do that, I don’t use exclamation points, and I’m generally pretty measured in this post), but whatever.

      I’m glad “made me scratch my head” is interpreted as “OUTRAGE!!!” to you, Lightbringer. It explains quite a bit, actually.

    2. Don’t be a wuss. You love “bare-knuckle” wordplay and you often write satire. Don’t act butthurt that I added a bit of satire of my own. All caps ain’t so mean…

      Troops as props? Why think of them like that? Were they forced to be present? Why so cynical? Not a single political point was to be scored at the Oscars. Hollywood loves glorifying itself and to think that they played a bit part in that rescue… how is that a surprise that they voted for Affleck’s movie as Best Picture?

      Maybe they support the first lady due to her supporting them?
      http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/02/25/first-lady-michelle-obama-challenges-governors-all-50-states-ease-service-members-tr

      You know I’m no fan of this administration, but to view every single thing, however innocuous, as some dastardly Machiavellian plot, is really disheartening to this reader.

    3. Trust me, I’m not butt-hurt.

      Regardless, can I make a clarification here? While I do like to go back-and-forth with people, it’s “Bare knuckled conservatism.” That means that my conservatism is bare knuckled. It’s not “Chris Christie” conservatism, for instance. So while I’m happy to have the metaphor extended to actual debate (i.e., I’m going to bring real conservatism to bear), it should not be interpreted as “I’m Billy Bad Ass and I’ll beat a f***er with another f***er.”

      The fall back position of people on this site seems to be to insinuate the latter and then mock it, which is rather weird.

      Also, how many “Michelle Obama” posts have I done? Maybe two? Three? And those are connected to health and wellness, which I occasionally blog on. Shocker: Former Army guy posts his opinion on the First Lady using troops as props for her Oscar presentation.

      Were the troops forced? Possibly. If you’re given a lawful order, you follow it. That’s the name of the game. You don’t have an option. Uncle Sam owns you when you sign on the dotted line. I did notice that there weren’t any blue cords on those soldiers, though…

    4. I know your stance. You and I both know you can be harsh in your replies, especially to people whom you disagree with ideologically and to those who can be coarse or mocking in tone. That’s your thing.

      But, may I use satire to voice disagreement? Remember, you did not write the word “outrage,” Jim did, and I replied to both of you. If you took offense, perhaps your actual stance was closer to my satire than I thought.

      Besides, were the 5,000+ Navy troops on an aircraft carrier considered props when Bush Jr. landed and for his “mission accomplished” press conference? Of f***ing course they were. I remember even my most staunch Republican friends shaking their heads at that one.

      That stunt looked a lot like a Michael Bay movie scene than the FLOTUS presenting an award when the two leading nominees were Hollywood portrayals of actual military/covert missions. Did you think Django was going to win it? Now that would have been interesting…

    5. In all honesty, I didn’t recall Jim’s comment or that you were replying to him. The way that the new comments show up in the system (depending on how you’re accessing them), you don’t always see the previous comment.

      Although I wish the “Mission Accomplished” banner never existed, I’m not going to even try and explain why that was pretty cool. (Note: Bush actually does know how to fly a plane.) Have you ever – ONCE – read a post of mine where I said President Obama — the Commander in Chief — was using troops as props? No. And if you can find one, I will apologize and say: “I don’t know what the hell I was thinking there.” There’s been plenty of posts I wanted to write about him and how infantry guys compare Obama vs. Bush … but I haven’t for a number of reasons.

      George W. Bush would not use the troops like Michelle Obama did. You will not be able to convince me otherwise. I have stories from Army buddies — stories that will never make it to the headlines because the Bush’s do kind things for the troops without alerting the press — that have solidified my opinion there.

    6. Hold on a minute. This and the last administration could give two figs about the troops. Remember Building 18 at Walter Reed? I have no doubt Bush and Obama care about the troops, but actions speak louder than sentiment. Sure, they smile at photo ops and hand out turkey on Thanksgiving in Afghanistan, but when it comes down to it, take a long look how vets are treated: How many effective programs are there to integrate troops back into society after over a decade of war? How about jobs placement assistance? Long-term psychiatric help? Quality VA benefits? Look at how many ex-military are homeless. Homeless. Currently, more troops die of suicide than they do from combat. Think about that. People have ribbons on their cars, talk up how much they love the troops, but at the end of the day… troops get the shaft upon their return home.

      Plus, we are letting sequestration screw the troops. From: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/27/sequester-military-medical-care/1949057/

      “The Army Surgeon General’s Office issued a statement Wednesday saying that includes laying off 34,200 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel. The service has requested exceptions for up to 10% of its civilian medical force who work in crucial areas such as critical patient care, behavioral health, care of wounded servicemembers, medical retirement evaluations and food and water safety.

      The office says it may also reduce medical clinic operation hours or days.

      About one in five medical workers at the Air Force’s 75 treatment facilities are civilians who are facing layoffs, says Jonathan Stock, a spokesman for the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office.

      Nathan said that 12,000 civilian medical providers could face layoffs.”

      Oh yeah, we love the troops alright. Men and women fighting and dying defending two unfriendly, fledgling countries half the earth away and we ultimately treat them like crap upon their return home.

      Why don’t we stop talking about trivial “outrages” like how a handful of troops flanking the FLOTUS during an awards ceremony are props and hear the bare-knuckled conservative take on how the troops are really treated.

    7. This diatribe is fantastic. In one fell swoop you show the left’s desire to put all their faith and hope into one man. One sovereign to rule them all. There are three branches of government, but you’d never know it if you watched the news these days.

      Sequestration is “screwing” the troops? No, sir. Spending more money this year (that we don’t have) than last year is not screwing the troops. Misplaced priorities and runaway debt will screw “the troops” and all of us in due time. It’s coming. See you then.

      When was the last time you were at Walter Reed? Or Fisher House? How much money have you raised for WWP? Have you been to “Operation Welcome Home”? I don’t know if you want to go there with me, my friend. You will regret it. (See what I did there?) The answer does not start with the federal government. The answer starts at the personal and local level. It always has.

    8. Your misrepresentation of my position is a truly low, Doug. You know damn well not a bit of that straw man you propped up is what I think and believe.

      I said “we” as the populous as a whole. We fail the troops. We don’t hold our representatives accountable for how they are treated. What does me visiting Walter Reed or Fisher House or how much money I raised for WWP have to do with anything. I already pay for the troops and their care via taxes. I’m an unhappy citizen, who wants the troops to be treated better. To mock me is incredibly low.

      And lay off that pseudo-small government bullshit. State and local level? Please. The standing army is a federal creation (and against what our founding fathers wanted) and if the government employs them, they should take care of them. If you want the standing army of the US disbanded, and for the US to honor the founding father’s intentions, so we only have militias and a temporary standing army to defend our great nation, then I would be willing to entertain that conversation. You can’t play be small government and support $900B+ in yearly military spending and trillions more fighting two wholly unnecessary wars and the resulting occupations. Hell, we beat Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito in FOUR YEARS. We largely rebuilt Germany in ten.

      And that sovereign to rule them all crap. Would you say that if Romney was doing the same thing? No, you sure wouldn’t. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was complaining when Bush ran roughshod over the Bill of Rights in the name of saving us from terrorism. Nobody cares now that Obama’s doing the same damn thing. Oh, look sweetie, Honey Boo Boo is on at 8PM tonight!

      You think sequestration is somehow a good thing? That’s our own government’s complete and utter lack of ability to figure out a fiscal issue in a timely manner. You frame some false argument that I somehow like rampant government spending by not thinking sequestration is a positive? You know better.

    9. Afghanistan was a “wholly unnecessary war”? Really? Interesting…

      I’m sorry if you think I was mocking you. I wasn’t. I was merely warning you that you were dangerously close to insinuating that I somehow didn’t adequately care for the troops due to the content I choose to provide. After your movie-esque rant on how the nation treats the troops you ended with this:

      Why don’t we stop talking about trivial “outrages” like how a handful of troops flanking the FLOTUS during an awards ceremony are props and hear the bare-knuckled conservative take on how the troops are really treated (emphasis added).

      How was I supposed to respond? I suppose I can thank you for not putting “bare-knuckled” in quotation marks, but that’s not much of a compliment. Interesting how after I mention I didn’t see Jim’s “outrage” statement you then muddy the water by requesting less focus on “trivial outrages” so I could provide a “bare-knuckled” take on how the troops are really treated…

      I’m not going to apologize for how I read your statement. I guess I’m sorry you don’t see how it can be interpreted any other way.

      Regardless, my point is that there are some things — despite the best of intentions — the federal government isn’t equipped to do very well. Many of our social problems are best dealt with at a local level. Period. Comparative advantage is something I’ve found most liberals (not necessarily yourself) are unable to grasp.

      And finally, I would point out that one of the few necessary and proper functions of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. I don’t know what the tab is for defending the nation from external and internal threats, but if it’s $900 billion, so be it. That’s $900 billion well spent. But $1 spent crafting federal regulations on the percentage of fat that is allowed to be in eggnog (yes, such a regulation exists) is too much.

    10. I guess we disagree on a fundamental level about military being federal until the troops are hurt or come home, then it is a local problem. I never insinuated you don’t care about the troops. Just disappointed you’re focusing on the trivial.

      And my “rant” maybe just that, but it isn’t grandstanding. I care for our troops. So much so I don’t want them occupying Muslim countries that have swallowed countless Western empires’ blood and treasure. Look at the suicide rate.

      We agree on smaller government. But we need to take a hard look at what our defense budget buys us. There’s no better example of big government. Do we need an army? Yes. Could we do just fine with a MUCH larger National Guard and MUCH smaller Army? Yes.

      Look into the two of founding fathers’ statements about standing armies:

      Thomas Jefferson: “I do not like [in the new Federal Constitution] the omission of a Bill of Rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for… protection against standing armies.” –Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787. ME 6:387

      Thomas Jefferson: “Nor is it conceived needful or safe that a standing army should be kept up in time of peace for [defense against invasion].” –Thomas Jefferson: 1st Annual Message, 1801. ME 3:334

      Thomas Jefferson: “The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.” –Thomas Jefferson to Chandler Price, 1807. ME 11:160

      Thomas Jefferson: “The Greeks and Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended themselves. The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing army. Their system was to make every man a soldier and oblige him to repair to the standard of his country whenever that was reared. This made them invincible; and the same remedy will make us so.” –Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 1814. ME 14:184

      Thomas Jefferson: “Bonaparte… transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies.” –Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Adams, 1800. ME 10:154

      President James Madison: “…to support the Constitution, which is the cement of the Union, as well in its limitations as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people as equally incorporated with and essential to the success of the general system;… to keep within the requisite limits a standing military force, always remembering that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics – that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe;…” –

      President James Madison, First Inaugural address, Saturday, March 4, 1809.
      James Madison: “As the greatest danger to liberty is from large standing armies, it is best to prevent them by an effectual provision for a good militia.” (notes of debates in the 1787 Federal Convention)

    11. I like what you did there. Apparently, because I disagreed with your assertion that the federal government has somehow abandoned the troops after they come home, I think that after a soldier collects his DD214 that administrators can wipe their hands clean.

      I have made no such point. Did you forget I live in Maryland? Or that I don’t just read conservative websites? Or that I once had to deal with the VA for my own benefits?

      Veterans across Maryland who have filed disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Baltimore office may wait more than a year for a decision and even then face a 25 percent chance that their claims will be mishandled, according to agency figures.

      Nationally, the system is struggling with a backlog of more than 900,000 claims, the result of a sharp increase in filings by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as by older generations. The Baltimore regional office’s performance is among the nation’s worst, with claims filed by veterans seeking disability compensation pending 429 days on average, six times VA’s goal of 70 days, and 162 days longer than the national average. …

      “I’m used to bureaucracy, but I didn’t expect it to be like this,” [veteran Andy Titsworth said]. “At some point, I expected somebody to say, ‘This is taking way too long.’ ”

      So close to the levers of power, and Maryland STILL can not get its act together. There are a number of reasons. This one struck me as rather interesting.

      “The ability to attract talented candidates was challenging due to the high cost of living in the Baltimore commuting area,” VA said in a statement.

      Wait, you mean because Maryland is a liberal disaster state, not everyone is a glutton for punishment like me, willing to live in a hidey-hole because the cost of living is so high here? Or willing to put up with nasty-gram letters for not paying taxes when in fact you did file, you make next to nothing, and yet they still come after you for proof? (Sorry, that one is personal.) If only I was like the government employee who gets paid $100,000 to essentially answer phones for a living I’d be set (I used to ride the MARC train into work and overheard quite a few conversations). I couldn’t live with myself, but I’d be set.

      I will also add, that while I do not doubt your intentions, it appears you don’t know how insulting statements like this are: “I already pay for the troops and their care via taxes.”

      Do you know what the most priceless thing you can give someone is? Your time. That is something you will never, ever get back. That is your life. And that is how you help soldiers who return home from service who are having a hard time adjusting or who just need someone to come up and shake their hand and say “thank you.” Cutting them a disability check every month is nice. Giving them money to buy a house and pay rent is nice. But too many people (not necessarily yourself) just act as if federal dollars are the key — and that mindset dehumanizes people. It reduces them to a number. And like I said, the federal government is simply not capable of providing the kind of one-on-one care that needs to come from strong, vibrant and caring local communities.

      Finally, I’m not going to get into a dueling match of Founding Father quotes with you. Perhaps another day.

    12. Why is there a scorecard to the back-and-forth? Neither of us are going to argue that the government, out of sheer incompetence, doesn’t inadvertently mistreats returning troops. Your examples are well received.

      But let’s back up a bit. I am not for a “more government” solution to the problem of the troops being poorly looked after. That’s an incorrect representation of my argument. I am for the government being efficient (I know) and using what we already pay them to solve a very fixable problem. Sure, I agree that more communities involvement would certainly help.

      Because the standing army is a federal creation and, as such, it’s perfectly logical that all aspects of this standing army should be dealt with on a federal level. In this context, the statement I made isn’t insulting at all. All taxpayers pay for the military. If the military, and the government as a whole, fails to provide promised services to the troops, then they are misusing *our* tax dollars. Just because I don’t raise money for organizations picking up the slack (and they are doing noble work), doesn’t mean I can’t be upset at government stupidity. And just because the government wastes money and can’t get the job done, doesn’t mean I’m ready to cede the offering of services to states and communities already strapped for cash. If that’s not your position, then tell me what is. We are wasting billions on crooked weapons systems manufacturers–well-documented abuses–and returning troops like you can’t get taken care of? Remember the unarmored humvees in Iraq and crappy gear issued to troops at the beginning of the war? Same thing.

      I think we should start with demanding the incompetence be fixed. That sequester hurt the troops. Is that something to be pissed off about? Or is Michelle Obama being flanked by a few troops really an issue?

      I have given to military charities. Our company has sent a few care packages to troops overseas and I also take care of my friends by Skype’ing and speaking by phone to my troop buddies overseas because even though they are not blood, they are like family to me. They never lacked as much as I could help it. They know I supported them. I’ve sent comics, magazines, coffee, small items. It does start at home, Doug. But that doesn’t abrogate the federal government’s responsibility to do what we pay them to do: take care of the troops both during and after their service.

      Quick story: When I was flying back from ATL airport, the airline was transporting a fallen soldier on our flight. It delayed us half an hour. He had a separate honor guards at ATL and at JAX and on the flight. Not a single person complained, though it was all late and we were anxious to get home. Everyone was very respectful and sat still while the honor guard deplaned first. Ever see that on a plane? Many of us said thank you to those troops tasked with returning him home and I’m not afraid to admit I shed a tear on the runway for the young man who didn’t make it back to his family like I was about to.

      Don’t assume anything about me.

    13. “Don’t assume anything about me.” I didn’t. I simply pointed out that your comments can very easily be interpreted another way. I think I’ve been rather even-keeled given you’re paternalistic tone (e.g., You know better). Thanks, dad.

      When I was in Macedonia no one wanted up-armored vehicles because they were so heavy they were prone to getting stuck in the mud. Don’t get me started on the equipment debate. Didn’t you say that you read “American Sniper”? Soldiers on patrol often ditched the heavy-ass body armor because of the weight, it was cumbersome and it slowed them down. That’s not to say that guys who want it shouldn’t have it … but that whole debate was blown out of proportion.

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