In what has become an annual tradition, President Obama honored SFC Cory Remsburg of the 1st Ranger Battalion during the 2014 State of the Union Address (SOTU). Rangers previously appeared as guests of the President in 1984 (myself) and 2003 (CPT Nate Self). Such presidential guests are called "Skutniks," in homage to the first of them, Lenny Skutnik, who rescued victims from the Potomac River after a plane crash.
Observers noted that the Washington elites favored SFC Remsburg with the longest ovation of the evening. Acknowledging such presidential guests is historically the most bipartisan moment of otherwise supremely political events. In the case of SFC Remsburg it should not be otherwise. He laid a weighty sacrifice on the altar of freedom, suffering grievous wounds after ten combat deployments.
I did not watch the Address. I lack the patience to sit through them, and I cannot escape the conviction that this president lives in a different America than mine, we live in very different countries, in different Americas, and most of our social and political values are diametrically opposed. President Obama would surely dismiss me as a crazy veteran who is in love with my guns and my religion. Now that I think about it, I would not disagree with him on that.
My big problem with President Obama is that we still do not know who he really is. His personal records remain sealed, and he is adept at political theater, an actor of the highest caliber. That is why he was chosen to occupy the Presidency. My question is, who chose him? Because clearly, he was chosen. He is the least-qualified candidate to ever ascend to office.
Since I presume to make these inconvenient observations in public, I can now be dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, or even as a lunatic. My riposte is that I speak only facts. There is nothing theoretical about my statements. They are factual. Who chose President Obama? That is what I want to know. Why are the President's personal records still sealed? Through his Leviathan NSA, he can now know more about us than any other president in history. Why can we not know who President Obama truly is? What does he have to fear from total exposure?
If this President honestly expects Americans to assent to an unprecedented regime of total surveillance, the least that he could do is set an example for us, and show us that there is nothing to fear from such omniscient transparency. President Obama should open his records, all of them, just as all of us are open books, to those with the clearances and the access to systems that we formerly feared to imagine. Yes, we were paranoid. But now, courtesy of Edward Snowden, we know that we had good reason to be.
In any case, the overriding thought that occurs to me, as I watch my brother member of the Ranger Regiment, SFC Remsburg....As a fellow "Skutnik," a kindred ornament who was also once feted at a SOTU in 1984, my overriding thought is this:
To all those assembled politicians who so dutifully applauded an undeniable hero who sets a fine example for us all, are you cognizant of your hypocrisy?
Fix our pensions, and stop trying to steal from veterans.
I mean you, Paul Ryan. You need to go home in disgrace and you need to get out of Congress. Take all your fake Republican buddies who rightly fear the Tea Parties with you.
Pay us fairly. On time. No shenanigans. Do not interfere with the COLA raises that should be coming to us. We already earned them. We already paid for them.
When you meddle with our pensions and with our benefits, you anger us. We are coming for those of you who voted to steal our COLA raises. Rest assured that we also mean you, John McCain. Time for you to go home and enjoy the fortune that you accumulated during a lifetime of public service. Your services are no longer required.
Cut your own pensions and pay and benefits before you presume to cut ours. Enroll in ObamaCare and Social Security, just like the rest of us. We should have no nomenklatura in America, immune from the daily insults that erode our liberties and our quality of life.
Leave our medical benefits alone.
Leave our commissaries alone.
If you do not want to pay for veterans, then stop having wars.
How many of the assembled politicians would have applauded these demands? It is one thing to trot out a veteran for political purposes, as has become de rigeuer over the past thirty years of SOTUs, and something quite different to honor veterans by merely keeping the promises that you already made to them.
As a veteran who also felt the heat of that long applause at a State of the Union Address, I advise you that you can hold your ovations. If you wish to express gratitude to veterans, just honor your commitments to us.