John Byrne and Mike Sheehan
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has promoted an adjutant-general in the Alaska National Guard to Lieutenant General after he reversed course on remarks that seemed to criticize the now-Republican candidate for Vice President.
Last Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell suggested to the Boston Globe that Gov. Sarah Palin's role as commander of the state's National Guard was largely ceremonial, thus blunting attempts by the McCain campaign to assert she had foreign policy experience.
"Our National Guard is basically just like any National Guard," Campbell told the paper. "You could call [Adjutant General] Joe Carter in Massachusetts and he would say he is organized the same way."
"She is very much engaged in what we are doing and she asks a lot of questions," Campbell added. "Maybe not the most engaged, but definitely engaged.
He noted that 75 percent of the Guard's budget is controlled by the National Guard Bureau in Washington, and that Alaska's anti-nuclear missile site is not under his or Palin's purview.
Later in the week, however, Campbell appeared on Fox News to tout Palin's candidacy.
"I'll tell you, in the last few days, I've been watching the press, and I've not been very pleased with what I've been seeing about the chastising of the National Guard by having it diminished by the insinuation that a commander-in-chief of the National Guard doesn't really control the military," he remarked. "The National Guard has 500,000 people in it around this great country, serving in states and overseas. National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great."
On Monday, he was quietly promoted. A statement -- issued by Palin's office -- asserted that the promotion signified "Governor Sarah Palin's support of the Guard and her commitment to reinforcing the cooperation between federal and state military assets."
"Palin took the opportunity to promote Campbell ahead of any pending emergency that may occur with the upcoming fall storm season," it added. "This allows Alaska to have more of a say in times of state disasters."
"This is about Alaskans serving Alaskans," Palin said in the release. "The promotion is a statement that the Alaska National Guard is the state military force responsible for responding to state issues, at the direction of the Governor. The decision to promote the Adjutant General to Lieutenant General is based on a fundamental states'-rights stance, for which Alaska has a strong historical position."
The promotion was first noted by VoteVets' Brandon Friedman.
At least one Alaskan National Guardsman has expressed outrage at the promotion. In a posting on the blog of an Alaska radio host, a man who claims to be a member of the Alaska National Guard expressed his ire.
"The Guardsmen found out about this travesty when a call went out for volunteers to fill the room for his ceremony," the Guardsman wrote. "The response was almost non-existent."
Campbell's promotion is largely ceremonial, the poster noted. Only the federal level of the national guard is able to promote individuals to the Major General rank.
"General Campbell's promotion will be a 'state' promotion," he said. "He will be a three-star general only while on State business. In a very rank-conscious environment, this distinction will not be lost on the other Flag Officers. He will look the part of a three-star general but will not be regarded as one by the very people he needs to work with and influence."
"No one can be promoted to the top ranks because of perceived leadership deficiencies but even with his obvious leadership flaws, he has no reluctance whatsoever to accept a cosmetic promotion," he added. "I believe the Governor's office will receive substantial correspondence urging her to reconsider this insult to the men and women of the Alaska National Guard."
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
John Byrne and Mike Sheehan
n an interview on the Today Show this morning, host Meredith Vieira asked Meghan McCain about Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) comments that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “doesn’t get it.” Meghan responded by pointing to her dad’s service in Vietnam and her two brothers who are currently enlisted. She then went a step further, however, saying that her family is the only family that understands war:
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed and worked for George W. Bush in 2004, is endorsing Obama today, NY1 first reported.
I asked Koch just now what prompted the move.
"The designation of Palin to be vice president," he said. "She's scary."
He said he was alarmed by the report that she'd triggered a conflict with the local librarian in Wasilla, Alaska by inquiring about the possibility of banning books.
"Any time someone goes to the library and says, 'I want to ban books,' and the librarian says 'no,' and she threatens to fire them -- that's scary," he said.
(Palin at the time said she was just inquiring about the library's policy on banning books, with no aim of actually banning any. "It was a rhetorical question -- nothing more," the McCain-Palin campaign said in a memo yesterday. And no books were banned, the town says.)
In an endorsement statement, Koch wrote that "the issue for me is who will best protect and defend America" and that both parties were strong on terrorism.
I have concluded that the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party. Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks. It includes defending the public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties and other needs, e.g., national health insurance, the right of abortion, the continuation of Social Security, gay rights, other rights of privacy, fair progressive taxation and a host of other needs and rights.
If the vice president were ever called on to lead the country, there is no question in my mind that the experience and demonstrated judgment of Joe Biden is superior to that of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.
Koch said he'd visited six states for Bush in 2004, primarily Florida, but also several others. ("Why they sent me to Iowa, I don't know.") He said he'd be happy to campaign for Obama "if they ask me to."
Koch is a member of a set of secular, swing-voting Jewish Democrats who may have been pushed away by the selection of Palin, and his endorsement may be a marker of an opportunity for Obama to strengthen his campaign among older Jewish voters in Florida.
Koch's full endorsement statement is after the jump.