Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a military officer at the National Security Council, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, to appear before a House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform joint interview with the transcript to be part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Yesterday, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, an officer on loan to the National Security Agency, testified before Congress on his feelings, and I’ll underscore that word because we already know the facts, about President Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Zelensky. I’m pretty much in agreement with my colleague Bonchie (see Alexander Vindman’s Impeachment Testimony Is Largely Irrelevant, Stop Freaking Out About It), as we already know what was said and what happened, the color commentary of a mid-grade officer might sell some papers and get some clicks and create a new hero for the #Resistance, but it is pretty close to meaningless.
Two major things came out of this: a full-throated hagiographic defense of Vindman by the left and the media and NeverTrumpo and fewer, but vitriolic attacks, on Vindman.
This is my two cents on the controversy.
The hero tag gets used rather indiscriminately and so it has been applied to Vindman. I don’t know the guy but I can tell you a lot about him by his ribbon bar.
This is what we have:
Defense Meritorious Service Medal w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Achievement Medal w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon w/numeral 2
There are no ribbons for combat heroism. The absence of a Bronze Star, with or without ‘V’ device, indicates he got an Army Commendation Medal during his combat tour. I won’t throw shade on the “wrong time, wrong place” medal (my ROTC detachment commander was an SF officer who had six Purple Hearts, that’s what he called them), the Purple Heart, but I will note that Dan Crenshaw got one and lost an eye. John Kerry got three and never went to a hospital. He’s served at least two tours as a field grade officer in a high-level Defense staff position. He’s only served overseas twice, once in Iraq and once in Korea. It is sort of a shock to me to see an infantry officer wear an Army Achievement Medal. I have three and never bothered putting them on my ribbon bar.
The primary reason I’m even mentioning this is because this bullsh** is circulating on Twitter. It is mostly false, starting with his bio. He was commissioned via Army ROTC in January 1999. He has never completed the Special Forces Officers Qualification Course. He has no prior enlisted service. He has very few of the ‘scare badges’ attributed to him in this tweet. This is not a ding on Vindman but it shows the lack of honesty and absence of integrity common to his loudest defenders.
A. Discrediting decorated veteran doesn't help you
B. Opinion foreign leaders have no bearing whatsoever
C. YOU put President of Ukraine in difficult position; cozy up to you or country attacked by Russia
D. Quid Pro Quo moot point
E. Your resume against LC Vindman any day pic.twitter.com/1mE8A76rFV
— Organic Living (@YUMScrub) October 30, 2019
He’s a foreign area officer which means he has not served in a combat unit since he was in Iraq. I was selected to be an FAO, but I sobered up and applied for reclassification into Operations, Plans, and Training.
Without getting into parsing words over what “hero” means, we know with great certainty that his service in combat was average, it was meritorious but pedestrian. NTTAWWT.
The veneration for guys in uniform only attaches to people who are supporting leftist causes. Oliver North, an actual combat stud, and John Poindexter, who had a distinguished career, were vilified. Tulsi Gabbard was a hero…until she took a 2×4 to Kamala Harris. Now she’s a Russian tool. James Comey and Robert Mueller are heroes. Michael Flynn, a guy with an outstanding record and who, personally, saved dozens if not hundreds of American lives by his reforming of tactical intelligence operations, is facing prison based on an indictment that hardly passes the laugh test.
So spare me the hero bunkum. And regardless, as Greg “Pappy” Boyington was fond of saying, “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum.” He is right more often than we’d care to admit. The man most responsible for the defeat of the British Army at Saratoga and turning the tide of the war in favor of our young nation was none other than Benedict Arnold.
There is also an effort, like this by obnoxious RINO Charlie Dent, to drape the robe of patriotism on Vindman. As Samuel Johnson noted a couple of centuries ago, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” He was referring to the practice of Prime Minister William Pitt and his administration of excusing all of their actions by an appeal to patriotism. That is what I see going on with the impeachment process. A truly illegitimate attempt to overturn an election is underway and its fluffers call it patriotic. Vindman may very well be a patriot. Or he could be a time-serving staff officer working his way towards a consulting job upon retirement. Or he could be any number of other things. I don’t know and neither does Charlie Dent or anyone else opining on the subject. What I do know is that a lot of us have had our patriotism questioned constantly for the past three years, so sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. As they say, #NewRules, baby. I’m not going to question Vindman’s patriotism but I’m certainly not going to run interference for him either.
While I don’t subscribe to questioning Vindman’s loyalty, neither do I think deification is in order. In my view, there is a huge open question about the degree to which he’s collaborating in a partisan hit on the Commander-in-Chief. It is fair–if not required–to ask the questions and Vindman should be answering them publicly and with alacrity.
At a minimum, we need to know why Vindman tried to change the transcript of the president’s phone call. We need to know why a FARA registered agent of the Ukraine government lists him as among the people they have lobbied and if that is considered acceptable for military officers on the National Security Council. If is it acceptable, how does Vindman’s record of contacts with one known Ukrainian agent compare to those of his peers?
According to this FARA filing for a company called Yorktown Solutions, LLC, Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill were emailed 9 times throughout the Spring regarding "Ukraine energy issues". Hm.https://t.co/qvPog0OJuK pic.twitter.com/saVGOTOABS
— VεριταςVιταλ (@VeritasVital) October 30, 2019
And we need a clear answer on Vindman’s contact with agents of the Ukraine government to help them develop strategies to improve their standing with the administration:
NYT on Vindman: "Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with Mr. Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English." pic.twitter.com/YopyMRFHph
— Yossi Gestetner (@YossiGestetner) October 29, 2019
I don’t know about the propriety of that; it becomes decidedly improper unless he was cleared to do so and debriefed his superiors on the conversations. This NYT clip reads, to me, like he didn’t have clearance to help the Ukraine government develop negotiating strategies and he’s trying to elide past it now. I have to say that Chuck Schumer pulling out all the stops to protect him sort of starts the sirens flashing:
SCHUMER has sent a letter to the Army requesting that Lt Col Alexander Vindman is afforded the same protections as whistleblowers “and protected from reprisal for testifying before Congress.” pic.twitter.com/PFCL77jlP2
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) October 30, 2019
Ironically, as all military officer promotions require the president to forward a list to the Senate for their advise and consent role, if Trump doesn’t want Vindman promoted there is precious little anyone can do about it until after Trump leaves office.
We are also being told that criticizing Vindman is anti-Semitic. But, somehow, labeling Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian asset is not anti-Hindu.
Ah, so now we can't criticise Vidman's testimony because he is Jewish. When I woke up, we could not criticise it because he was Ukrainian.
How about: his testimony was terrible.
Shifty Schiff, better luck next time. https://t.co/E79qMy0moj
— Svetlana Lokhova (@RealSLokhova) October 30, 2019
This is the bottom line. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman decided to inject himself into the impeachment process. That is his right, and he might see it as his responsibility. But he should have had no illusion about how this was going to play out. I, and many others, view the impeachment process as part of a slow-motion coup that began shortly after November 6, 2016. To expect to enlist for the coup attempt and be treated with kid gloves is simply not reasonable. There are legitimate questions about Vindman’s actions and motives and his service does not give him access to the Immunity Idol.