Gatesway to Truth
If President Obama was hoping to regain his political footing in 2014, a new "tell-all" book just made that job a lot tougher. The 594-page PR nightmare is set to hit shelves next Tuesday, but the excerpts are already sending shockwaves through D.C. The book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, is a lengthy look back at Defense Secretary Robert Gates's career, which (with the exception of Bill Clinton) spanned every President since Richard Nixon. For all of the book's revelations, the stories about Gates's most recent boss, President Barack Obama, are the most explosive. Although he does manage to sprinkle in a few kind words, Gates paints the picture of a reluctant commander-in-chief who was not prepared to lead the country, let alone a war.
Perhaps his toughest obstacle as Secretary, Gates wrote, was the "suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials -- including the President and Vice President." After eight years under President Bush, Gates was shocked to watch the relationship between Obama and the Pentagon sour. "...[It] became a big problem for me as I tried to manage the relationship between the commander-in-chief and his military leaders." By most accounts, Gates's observations about President Obama's handling of the troops did more to confirm suspicions than arouse new ones. In many ways, the book's account underscores what we've said all along -- that this administration sees the military as a force for political correctness.
In one of the biggest bombshells of Duty, Gates finally pulls back the curtain on the President's shocking handling of the military's policy on open homosexuality. From the Washington Post's account: "'For me,' Gates writes, '2010 was a year of continued conflict and a couple of important White House breaches of faith.' The first, he says, was Obama's decision to seek the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy toward gays serving in the military. Though Gates says he supported the decision, there had been months and months of debate, with details still to work out. On one day's notice, Obama informed Gates and Mullen that he would announce his request for a repeal of the law. Obama had 'blindsided Admiral Mullen and me,'" Gates says.
In other words, the very leaders forced to carry out this radical agenda were neither prepared for nor consulted about the change. "I felt that agreements with the Obama White House were good for only as long as they were politically convenient." Unfortunately for our men and women in uniform, that's been the case since the President took office and started using them to advance his extreme social agenda. A strong and successful military cannot be run on the whims of a politically-motivated commander.
Of course, conservatives are not overly sympathetic to Gates either. He was in a position of leadership and should have stood up to the President on matters of principle. More than anyone Secretary Gates should have understood the implications for the two million-plus active duty and reserve personnel. Whether the issue is as broad as religious freedom or as basic as bunks and bathrooms, his refusal to push back on this dangerous policy change has had major consequences for our brave servicemen and women.
Interestingly enough, Robert Gates also didn't pull any punches when it came to the political motivations of one Hillary Clinton. Presumed to be one of the leading presidential candidates in 2016, Gates's depictions of the former First Lady didn't do her campaign many favors. In a meeting with the President, the Secretary of State admitted that her career ambitions were what shaped her policy views. "All too early in the [Obama] administration," Gates wrote, "Hillary told the President that her opposition to the [surge] in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary." If nothing else, this administration's message is consistent: pandering to President Obama's political base is more important than protecting America.
How to Win a Losing War
As America commemorates the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's declaration of war on poverty, we have to consider the one social program we know works: the family. As FRC's Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) has shown through years of careful research, children and families are better off financially when their homes are headed by a married mom and dad. Not only is a married family less likely to be poor than households headed by a single parent, marriage between single parents of impoverished children would, statistically, immediately move 70% of those boys and girls above the poverty line.
At best, federal social programs have achieved mixed results in the lives of millions of Americans. Failed federal policies, no-fault divorce, and tax disincentives for marriage have resulted in myriad broken lives. Less than half of U.S. children on the cusp of adulthood have grown up in an intact married family. And creating intergenerational dependency on government is not the way to create jobs or offer people hope. But with God, there's always hope for new beginnings. And we know that work, dignity, and hope go hand-in-hand, which is why we support market-oriented, opportunity-based alternatives to federal intervention in the lives of those in need.
Also, if we want a strong economy, a good educational system, and a robust civil society, the federal government must support policies that encourage strong traditional family formation. That's why FRC is so committed to helping strengthen families and supporting policies, like the child tax credit and the charitable deduction, that empower families to thrive both for their own sakes and for the sake of America's future.
Ad-vantage "Duck Dynasty"
America's favorite duck hunters didn't just survive the attack on their values -- they're thriving under it! According to the trade publication Variety, liberals may be skittish about the brand, but advertisers certainly aren't, as money comes pouring in to the show that GLAAD so desperately wanted to destroy. The Robertsons and the entire "Duck Dynasty" franchise have emerged stronger -- and even more financially viable -- than before.
Conflict or no, writes Brian Steinberg, advertisers "are willing to pay more for a package of ads in A&E's reality series 'Duck Dynasty' than they are for a 30-second spot in plenty of other popular programs" -- including CBS's "NCIS," ABC's "Nashville," and both editions of Fox's "The X-Factor." After star Phil Robertson went public with his biblical beliefs on homosexuality, companies are still flocking to "Duck Dynasty," forking over as much as $180,000 for a flight of commercials on the hit show. And they don't plan on leaving any time soon. "Across our client base, it didn't really reach the level of a reason to remove advertising," said one buyer.
Those companies who did drop "Duck Dynasty" are still facing consumers' fury. Even after reversing their decision, Cracker Barrel is still paying for their knee-jerk decision to pull the show's merchandise from their shelves. As the chain's largest shareholder, Sardar Biglari is so outraged that he's threatening to oust management. "The handling of the Duck Dynasty controversy is another example of poor judgment," he wrote in a letter to the chairman of the board. When push comes to shove, what these businesses care about is their bottom line. And when they're confronted by enough Americans -- as they were over "Duck Dynasty" -- maybe they'll finally recognize that it's to their benefit to stay on mission and out of these cultural battles.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.