Full disclosure: I’m a Paul supporter. I say that as an American, not as a representative of any armed force. I don’t agree with everything he thinks, but I believe in the Constitution and THAT is my thermometer for judging candidates. Only because I know how the political system works can I not be worried about his crazy thoughts that I don’t agree with. But, this post isn’t about whether or not Paul is a good candidate or would make a good president. I’m not going to argue that.
There are things that Ron Paul and his supporters are doing that are simply beginning to get under my skin. He is using the military to further his political ambitions, even though he wants to gut us. In a recent campaign flyer, Paul used an image of troops that appear to either be in a combat zone or a training environment; doesn’t matter, the troops were in uniform.
Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 specifically states:
A member of the Armed Forces on active duty may…register, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces…[and may]…Attend partisan and nonpartisan political fundraising activities, meetings, rallies, debates, conventions, or activities as a spectator when not in uniform and when no inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement can reasonably be drawn.
A member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not…Attend partisan political events as an official representative of the Armed Forces, except as a member of a joint Armed Forces color guard at the opening ceremonies of the national conventions of the Republican, Democratic, or other political parties recognized by the Federal Elections Committee or as otherwise authorized by the Secretary concerned.
Now, having read what I quoted above (or what you read if you went to the entire link), take a look at this recent campaign flyer Paul sent out:
These guys are obviously in the military as their all wearing the OCP (Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern) uniform. They also appear to be in a tent, which furthers the assumption that these guys are representing the Army. One could easily argue that these Soldiers didn’t know the photo would be used in a campaign flyer and that they did nothing wrong. Fine, but then there is this interview of Army Reserve Combat Engineer CPL Jesse Thorsen out of Des Moines, Iowa that is a BLATANT violation:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxbR8EvdrDM
Look, I got that a lot of troops support. I’m one of them. But, we don’t need to be getting stupid with it. It’s like we’re Paul’s personal shock troops. He’s a man that doesn’t make you immune from punishment for violating the rules. These Soldiers can’t use the weekend warrior excuse if they’re wearing the uniform. Once you put that uniform on, you represent the United States Army, whether you’re National Guard, Army Reserve, or active status.
After this interview, Paul invited Thorsen onstage and explain why Thorsen support the candidate…IN UNIFORM! Paul should know better than that. There is nothing wrong with Thorsen working on Paul’s campaign since he’s a reservist, but doing the interview and then appearing on stage with the candidate in uniform was a blatant violation. And it looks like he’ll justly be punished for it:
Army reservist who appeared in uniform on national television in support of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul during Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses could face harsh penalties from the Defense Department for violating military rules against politicking.
Service officials confirmed Wednesday that they are looking into possible violations of the department’s rules governing troops’ political participation by Cpl. Jesse Thorsen, an Iowa-based reservist.
My buddy, Joel Arends, from Veterans for a Strong America, weighed in as well.
“We need troops and veterans at the table, and we need them to be part of the election process,” he said. “But we don’t need troops to be violating regulations. It’s all about common sense, and most troops understand that we cannot mix the use of a military uniform with political campaigns.”
Ironically, I was debating with Joel just a couple of days about about the flier above when he sent out a press release criticizing it. We ended up agreeing on most of the violations, but now that I’m talking about it publicly I want him to know I support his efforts to expose what Paul is doing wrong in using troops to further his campaign objectives.
Disclaimer: These are my opinions and my opinions alone. I support Ron Paul as an American from Texas, not as a representative of any Armed Force or government. If you don’t like my opinion or my voting preferences, sucks to be you. Take out your pacifier and put on some big boy shoes. Welcome to greatest country on earth: The United States of America!