Have you noticed how people in government have been crying for civility and bipartisanship recently, simultaneously shedding crocodile tears while bashing the daylights out of each other?
Well, we finally have achieved true bipartisanship, albeit on the backs of America's combat veterans.
Both Democratic President Barack Hussein Obama, the commander in chief of America's armed forces, and Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry have snubbed the Veterans of Foreign Wars! Both received the traditional invitation to attend the national convention, to be held in San Antonio, Texas this year from August 27 - September 1, 2011.
In Obama's case he not only is refusing to attend the convention, he also will not send an appropriate substitute from his administration to stand in for him!
Perry, as the GOP frontrunner for the nomination to face Obama next year, meaning he too wants to be commander in chief, and as the governor of the host state, not only snubbed the VFW's invitation to attend the convention, he initially didn't even bother to respond.
To Perry's credit when the National Commander of the VFW issued a press release publicizing their behavior, he recanted and "adjusted his schedule," so he now will make an appearance.
Good for him. I'm sure it will simple to explain his behavior at his next campaign appearance.
The invitations to the White House and governors of states that host the annual convention are not idle social or politically inspired gestures. They have a very real purpose to the veterans' community, as shown by the official VFW statement on the issue.
"The VFW has had a long-standing tradition of inviting the sitting president to address our convention. We want to know where he stands on veterans' affairs, and we want those remarks made in public and on the record," said Richard L. Eubank, the national commander of the nearly 2 million-member organization.
"When the President is unable to attend, it has always been customary for the White House to choose a high-level administration official as an alternative speaker," Eubank continued.
"It is an insult of the highest magnitude that for the first time in the history of the VFW, the White House has apparently decided that this great and iconic organization of combat veterans and all of its members are not worthy of its notice by not at least offering a first-tier speaker from the administration."
Eubank is a Marine Corps retiree and Vietnam combat veteran from Eugene, Oregon. I would imagine that with proposals being aired in Washington to help reduce spending by cutting veterans' pensions, the questions and answers this year would be of special interest. They also might want to discuss Afghanistan, troop withdrawals that fly in the face of advice from military commanders, misuse of special operations forces resulting in more than 30 deaths earlier this month, and similar matters.
Less than 1 percent of all Americans are serving in the Armed Forces, including all reserve and National Guard Troops. Overall only about 7 percent of Americans have EVER served in the Armed Forces meaning 93 percent of the people in this country owe their freedoms and liberties to this incredibly small band of citizens.
President Obama Salutes America's Combat Veterans
Further, even within the 1 percent and the 7 percent, far smaller percentages have actually served in combat. All who serve deserve our thanks and respect, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for those who have faced the bombs and bullets.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the VFW, have been since 1985, and still hold an office within my local post where I also am a Past Commander. I have not held state or national offices in the VFW.
The VFW is the largest organization of America's combat veterans, and the behavior by both of these individuals is atrocious. I'm sure I can find plenty of speeches by both of them where they swear they support the troops.
Regarding Perry's initial lack of reaction, Eubank said, "The VFW also has a tradition of inviting the governor of the host state where its annual
convention is being held to come and welcome and greet our convention delegates. Although Governor Perry was similarly sent an invitation 3 months ago, apparently our invitation was deemed not important enough for the governor's office to at least accept or decline the invitation.
"Governor Perry's candidacy for president does not provide him an excuse for bad manners. The White House and Governor Perry can rest assured that the 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries will remember this discourteous treatment for a very long time to come."
Frankly, Perry's campaign communications director should strongly recommend that his first words to the men and women at the convention be "I am very sorry for the inadvertent confusion over my attendance. I was so busy saying my prayers and campaigning for president that your invitation was momentarily set aside. That situation has been rectified and I am happy and proud to be here."
When Perry realized the magnitude of the gaffe he had made he contacted the VFW and said he would be very happy to address the convention. Thus, Eubank issued the following statement: "I am pleased to learn that Texas Governor Rick Perry has been able to adjust his schedule and will be attending the 112th VFW National Convention next week in San Antonio. We are appreciative that the governor will be available to welcome and greet VFW Convention delegates to the Lone Star State on Monday, August 29th at 8:35 a.m. And, we likewise look forward to welcoming him to our annual convention."
The VFW's National Convention hosts a number of other speakers as well, including prominent members of the cabinet, military and civic leaders, business leaders and everyday people honored for their exemplary service.
How much do you want to bet that next year, with the convention being held only months before the Presidential Election, that Obama himself will find plenty of room on his schedule to attend, speak, do the grab and grin for photo ops, and make sweeping pronouncements about the greatness of America's veterans? I bet he'll go to the American Legion convention as well.
Any takers? No? I'm not surprised.
Thursday, August 25, 2011