Video of a nearly empty congressional hearing has exploded in popularity on the internet. While these events are usually coma-inducing fare, this time you have Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno shouting at Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA). Some are hailing this “smackdown” of civilian authority because, let’s face it, many people wish they could do the same to a congressman and it seems like a battle between the military and the so-called suit-soldiers in DC. But Congressman Hunter comes from a military family and served 3 combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan after quitting his civilian job and joining the Marine Corps. after September 11.
I confess I was not up on the issue that blew up between the two men. But the outrage of General Odierno over being accused of “not caring for his men” struck me as a straw man because I never heard Hunter imply it. I thought he was going to close with a Hillary-like “What difference does it make at this point!!?!!” And while I can imagine the frustration of so much brass being hauled into an empty room as well as the frustration of a Congressman leaving before their question was answered, I was surprised he struck such a disrespectful tone. He would know that his answer would still be provided to the Congressman (and I don’t know why the Congressman was leaving).
After reading about the exchange in Foreign Policy, it seemed to me that Congressman Hunter had a reasonable concern, but in terms of policy I really don’t know enough about it yet to come down on one side or the other. It does make for fascinating viewing though….