Patterico's Pontifications

4/11/2008

iowahawk Finds First Draft of LAT Op-Ed Criticizing Petraeus’s Decorations

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Humor — Patterico @ 7:04 am

In an L.A. Times op-ed, Matthew DeBord has sartorial advice for General Petraeus:

Gen. David H. Petraeus may be as impressive a military professional as the United States has developed in recent years, but he could use some strategic advice on how to manage his sartorial PR. Witness his congressional testimony on the state of the war in Iraq. There he sits in elaborate Army regalia, four stars glistening on each shoulder, nine rows of colorful ribbons on his left breast, and various other medallions, brooches and patches scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. He even wears his name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt, just in case the politicians aren’t sure who he is.

That’s a lot of martial bling, especially for an officer who hadn’t seen combat until five years ago. Unfortunately, brazen preening and “ribbon creep” among the Army’s modern-day upper crust have trumped the time-honored military virtues of humility, duty and personal reserve.

iowahawk found the first draft of DeBord’s op-ed in a dumpster behind a West Hollywood antique shop. A taste:

Gen. David H. Petraeus may be as fabulous a military professional as the United States has developed in recent years, but let’s face it, girlfriend – when it comes to the Fashion Theater, this showy soldier needs to call in the Makeover Marines. Oh snap!

Witness his congressional testimony on the state of the war in Iraq. There he sits in gaudy Army regalia, four stars glistening and glittering on each shoulder, nine camp rows of chintzy ribbons on his left breast, and various other brooches, patches and appliques scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. Talk about ‘fruit salad!’ Hel-loooo, General Garanimals: the 1950s called and they want their uniform back! To top it all off, the DC paparazzi photos show our dowdy doughboy sporting a name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt. Looks like this ostentatious officer was playing hooky during West Point’s Accessorizing 101!

Heh. Read it all.

45 Responses to “iowahawk Finds First Draft of LAT Op-Ed Criticizing Petraeus’s Decorations”

  1. General Petraeus is a bait-and-switch. The writer is exactly right. We’re supposed to be distracted by his medals and all those stars and just not question the guy, he’s got credibility and authority and is beyond reproach. Republicans, as usual, are all too eager to distracted. If a 4-star general says the war is going well and it’s possible for us to win, well it must be true, right?

    But let’s get real. Petraeus is still an appointee. George Bush had zero credibility left and needed to steal somebody else’s. It’s a tried and true Bush tactic to just drape himself in the military so he can start saying ‘you don’t support the troops if you don’t support me’ to all of his critics. And Petraeus has served Bush well. Coupled with the surge, he’s bought Bush the political leeway to do the one thing he cares most about; handing off the war to the next President. If it’s McCain, great, war continues. If it’s a Democrat, war stops, but Republicans can assign full responsibility for the loss in Iraq on Democrats.

    That’s all this is. Petraeus is Bush’s insurance against becoming a scapegoat, he thinks Petraeus is going to make him the next Truman.

    Levi (76ef55)

  2. I’m a vet, not a draft dodger, and this ostentatious display of ribbons is typical of all staff officers who have never served anywhere, never heard the sound of the guns. We used to joke about it (enlisted ranks) all the time and one of our rebel base cartoonists used to draw cartoons of fat guys displaying medals that said “Hero” on them or “Senator’s Brother”. I think Petraus is fantastic, the surge is working, he is to be commended, but the observation about the ten (or is it fifteen) rows of ribbons, eight of which are for nothing at all like Pacific Shark Hunt, European Theater Ribbon, and God only knows what, is simply what the Army demands these days. It is ridiculous, looks like fashionista 101, and should be taken care of by a “rules” change inside the Militay.

    Howard Veit (cc8b85)

  3. Levi – you really don’t have a clue do you?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  4. I wonder how many innocent trees had to die for the Times to print this crap.

    Hazy (d671ab)

  5. God bless you, Iowahawk.

    Howard, Petraeus has a Bronze Star. Doesn’t that mean that he was in combat and killed an enemy or saved a fellow soldier at the risk of his life?

    I agree about the plastic name tag, though. It is cheap and incongruous. It’s the same one I had in ROTC. The lowliest flatfoot in Chicago has a brass or silver black-nielloed one.

    nk (6b7d4f)

  6. That’s a lot of martial bling, especially for an officer who hadn’t seen combat until five years ago.

    Which is the stingiest possible way to say that Gen. Petraeus fought in Iraq.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  7. P.S. About the nametag. I wonder if some Barbie-collecting Army psychologist, sometime in the early seventies, convinced some fellow Barbie-collector in procurement that the cheap plastic would send a subliminal message to soldiers about the worth of their individuality and/or irreplacibility (irreplaceableness?).

    nk (6b7d4f)

  8. I thought I noticed a combat infantry badge among General Petraeus’ medals.

    ROA (dfea95)

  9. Thank you, ROA.

    nk (6b7d4f)

  10. I said medals under the second row. And yes, I am mistaken, the Bronze Star is for combat. I don’t mean to be a cynic, but as a “winner” of one of those things I am always questioning. Mine was for something not brave and not significant that took place in front of a colonel and had to do with sort of saving some other officer, I can’t help but thinking I’d have gotten jack shit had I saved a PFC with only a corporal to notice. But Patreus is top of the line as far as I’m concerned. Especially because, unlike our peerless leader(s), he has read widely and he got the idea for the “surge” from a French general named Galula who wrote a book on his counterinsurgency SUCCESS in Algeria called “Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice,” which is now required reading in the Pentagon and one can only be sad and angry that nobody from Rumsfeld on down was aware that the French actually cleaned the clock of the FLN back in the 50s and the SUCCESSFUL plan to defeat any insurgency was at their finger tips.

    Howard Veit (cc8b85)

  11. Why does he have so many medals?
    Well, one answer, is that after 30+ years of service, you collect a lot just for having been around.
    As HV pointed out, the top few rows are Personal Decorations (awarded for some action, accomplishment, etc), the rest are just a record of where you’ve been.
    It would be interesting to get the list. If you’ve got an awards dictionary, you could scope it out from a good quality pix.
    I’m sure that if Gen. Patreus was guilty of an awards mess such as Adm. Borda, a current version of Hackworth would have exposed him.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  12. If it’s a Democrat, war stops, but Republicans can assign full responsibility for the loss in Iraq on Democrats.

    It’s nice to see BDS Dems on the same page — immediate withdrawal of American troops is American loss (though the war will not stop…just that the fate of Iraqis is not a concern to Dems. They’d rather slap another “Free Tibet” bumpersticker on their car and pose as caring about liberty)

    Darleen (187edc)

  13. The Times really has a screw loose to publish a piece of dung like that op-ed. Howard, there are rules about wearing all the decorations you are entitled to although, for somebody unlike Petraeus who hasn’t seen combat, it can look ridiculous. Levi should apply for an LA Times job. He’d fit right in.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  14. “Awards and decorations earned by General Petraeus include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Defense Superior Service Medal, four awards of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for valor, the State Department Superior Honor Award, the NATO Meritorious Service Medal, and the Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm. He is a Master Parachutist and is Air Assault and Ranger qualified. He has also earned the Combat Action Badge and French, British, and German Jump Wings.”

    Link.

    Diffus (dce6cc)

  15. DeBord’s writing represents the pinnacle of deep thought on and critical analysis of the military, by today’s BDS liberals.

    Mike Huggins (e9e89c)

  16. Ah – unless the military has changed since I was in the Navy back in the 1970′s – what the General wore is the dress uniform – medals & name tag all. You don’t have an option to not wear pieces or get your name tag from Tiffany’s – every officer from lowly Lieutenant to the top dog follows the same dress – that’s why they call it “uniform”.

    Brotherico (d553bf)

  17. Brotherico…
    Ain’t it a Bitch. Privates and Generals, all with the same 75-cent name tag from the GSA!
    Too bad Civil Servants aren’t required to wear name tags too.
    Or better yet, concentric circles on their backs (just kidding).

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  18. what was iowahawk doing in a west hollywood dumpster? was there another man in there with him?

    assistant devil's advocate (d69180)

  19. But let’s get real. Petraeus is still an appointee.

    Everyone in the military above the lowly E-1 is appointed to their position. What, did you expect him to thumb wrestle the incumbent for the job?

    Pablo (99243e)

  20. W”e’re supposed to be distracted by his medals and all those stars and just not question the guy”

    Isn’t this Obama’s case to be President? Don’t question me I’m black?

    Sweetie (2fd7f7)

  21. There’s a slightly more elaborate listing as part of his Wikipedia entry.

    I agree that the modern requirement to “wear them all” has comic-opera results. I suspect it is a reaction by the REMFs who had nothing to wear when there was the options to wear only combat, or only combat and foreign.

    htom (412a17)

  22. I thought I noticed a combat infantry badge among General Petraeus’ medals.

    You did. He was commissioned as an infantry officer, with his first assignment being with 509th Airborne Infantry Battalion.

    Pablo (99243e)

  23. Hey Howard – how about this:

    As an enlisted when I got out the last time, I had 5 rows.

    Mine has a Bronze Star at the top. And depends – some have the “V” device for Valor like his, others (like yours) do not. I’d thing anyone that really served would not belittle that medal, espcially one that won it with a V. Doing stuff under fire is not exactly easy, had you ever really faced it (which I am beginning to doubt, given yoru disparging statements)

    But the bottom row on my uniform was just as interesting as the top as far as I was concerned, liberation of Kuwait medals from both the saudis and the kuwaitis there. And the SWAsia service medal, haiti humanitarian service, etc etc.

    So its not all “chairborne ranger” stuff like you are trash talking. He earned that stuff, from the rainbow ribbon (ASR) to his Ranger tab and airborne wings.

    A lot of it is “been there done that”. My JSCM ArCom JSAM and AAM all were things done that were noticed and rewarded. So stop trying to belittle my service nor the general. He was a hell of a CO as a MG in charge of the division over there, and has turned out to be a hell of a good theater commander. Spend enough time and be a well above average soldier, and you accumulate a lot of flash.

    And if you notice, the top rows are partial racks, not full sets of 3′s, thats why the ribbons run so high.

    So stop whining. You know he is required to wear ALL those when in Class A bus drivers suit jacket.

    Given a choice, I would have thought he’d show up in dress blues.

    Maybe he should have showed up in ACUs with dust on him?

    OldArmySapper (65a3de)

  24. Uncle Jimbo really shredded DeBord over at BlackFive, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Really, don’t miss it.

    I am heading over to read Iowahawk’s take on DeBord the wine-sipper, right now….one of my favorite places, thank you for the heads-up Patterico.

    driver (faae10)

  25. Oh, my God. And I thought Dave’s “Mommy Madness” piece belonged in the National Archives. He has outdone himself with this one.

    David Burge makes me feel so inadequate as a quasi-humorous blogger—like I need a brain transplant or something. I hoist a Pabst in the general direction of Iowa…here’s to you, Dave.

    Matthew DeBord covers military strategy, wine, fashion, interior decorating, geopolitics, and Barbie collecting for the Los Angeles Times.

    driver (faae10)

  26. Surely Matthew DeBord writes extensively about fashion, no? If not, he should.

    Matters of military, sacrifice and honor and decorum should really be left in the hands of adults.

    Dana (b4a26c)

  27. Even Civil Servants are required to wear name tags occasionally, especially if there is a bigwig in the building.

    PatAZ (56a0a8)

  28. Surely Matthew DeBord writes extensively about fashion, no? If not, he should.

    Matters of military, sacrifice and honor and decorum should really be left in the hands of adults.

    Wouldn’t it be a riot to send Max Boot over to Paris and Milan to review the fall collection?

    JVW (835f28)

  29. #28…

    Would that review be suitable for a “family” newspaper like LAT, or would it have to be restricted to an adult venue, such as Stars & Stripes?

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  30. Levi incredibly wrote: The writer is exactly right. We’re supposed to be distracted by his medals and all those stars and just not question the guy, he’s got credibility and authority and is beyond reproach. Republicans, as usual, are all too eager to distracted. If a 4-star general says the war is going well and it’s possible for us to win, well it must be true, right?

    SPQR responded to Levi: Levi – you really don’t have a clue do you?

    Levi doesn’t have a Blue’s clue, which is about the level of intelligence necessary to make his industrial-strength ignorant post. When I read some of the stuff he churns out, I wonder if he’s old enough to shave.

    Hey, Leev, I don’t know where you’ve been the past year-and-a-half or so, but here’s a news flash: All the Democrats who are immune to being “distracted” by shiny medals predicted that Petraeus would fail in spectacular fashion and that the daily slaughter seen in the spring of 2007 would continue unabated in an all-out multi-pronged civil war. Harry Reid — perhaps to distract from media inquiries into his shady land deals — declared “[T]his war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything…”

    But now, in your smarmy, condescending post, even YOU begrudgingly give Petraeus credit for a measure of success. Of course, you attempted to bury it underneath pedestrian broadsides at President Bush. But most amazing of all is how you incredulously try to convince all of us that the sharp decrease in coalition deaths, everyday violence and acts of IED terrorism was what people on your side expected all along. Most of us here have attention span longer than YouTube videos, so we know better. Nice try.

    BTW, I tried to contact Matthew DeBord’s friends to see what they thought of his column. But if you scroll to the bottom of this page, you’ll see Matthew DeBord has no friends.

    L.N. Smithee (0931d2)

  31. “Spring of 2007″ should read “Winter of 2006-07.”

    L.N. Smithee (e1f2bf)

  32. Hell, for a minute there, I thought the LA Times editorial was the satire.

    Socratease (64f814)

  33. DeBoard’s editorial states that General Petraeus had not seen combat until five years ago, but, the CIB is awarded to officers and enlisted personnel below the rank of colonel who have been in active ground combat.

    Unless Petraeus went from colonel to 4-star general in five years, Deboard is mistaken.

    ROA (dfea95)

  34. My mistake, my comment should read colonel and below rather than below the rank of colonel.

    ROA (dfea95)

  35. That’s a lot of martial bling, especially for an officer who hadn’t seen combat until five years ago.

    He Matthew, Eisenhower never saw combat but nevertheless acquired an impressive list of commendations and awards.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  36. #35…
    Now, that’s not entirely accurate.
    Ike comported himself quite well in that great Battle of the Bonus Army in (what was that) 1932, or 1933.

    Not one of the higher moments in a good career.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  37. I’m a vet and proud of my medals, I’m guessing the general is too. What do they want him to do, throw some away, like John Kerry did??
    rh

    robert hosier (496faa)

  38. This will be my last take on the subject. I have but three rows of ribbons, most of which are for shit that I’d never tell anyone about. Unit citations, place honors (like I went to whore houses in three countries and got a ribbon for each one. Plus the clap for which I might have received a Purple Heart had I played my cards right), a good conduct medal which if you knew me is insane, three fucking medals for doing my job, and so on. Maybe you guys who spend twenty years in the service are proud of that shit; I am embarrassed.

    Howard Veit (cc8b85)

  39. You know, Howard, some of those medals mean more than others but none of the ones you earned are meaningless.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  40. Of course these are the same people who talked “Wrong Way” Wesley Clark, as an
    unimpeachable source, and prospective
    vice presidential/presidential candidate

    narciso (d671ab)

  41. I’m a little late to this, and usually just lurk here. But here’s my question: This op ed piece may be bone stupid, and ignorant in the sense that the General is required to wear those medals in this kind of setting.

    But forgiving the writer’s ignorance for a moment, the real question is: How did this get into the paper? This wasn’t a column by a regular writer that may have been inadvertently under-edited, or barely glanced at by a busy editor. (See: Joel Stein. Every Friday.)

    As an op-ed piece, this was submitted to the editorial page, read by the op-ed editor, considered against who-knows-how-many other op-ed piece that came in that day, and selected for publication, presumably by Nick Goldberg.

    What does this say about Goldberg? What does it say about the op-ed page editor of the LA Times that he finds this kind of idiot whimsy worthy of his paper, and his readers? And what does it say about everyone who touched this piece – everyone at the LA Times who saw it before publication – that not one of them had any idea about military rules and regulations? Or, for that matter, that not one of them would have looked at this and thought it was sophomoric and slightly embarrassing, being offered up as some kind of comment on Patraeus’ testimoy? This was really the best intelligent analysis or opinion they could offer up?

    You can forgive Debord his “wine reviewer” viewpoint on the war. There are lots of clueless people out there.

    But for me, I can’t possibly fathom, or understand, how somebody like Goldberg could run this, or why he still has his job.

    This represents an ignorance on his part – along with a bias – that is quite unforgivable.

    One last note here: The person to write about this isn’t the editor, but the publisher, and in turn, Zell. They’re directly accountable for what appears on the op-ed page.

    I’d ask them, quite simply: When your newspaper is continuing to lose readers in droves, what are you thinking by having somebody like Goldberg with this kind of authority over your pages?

    If it was up to me, I’d get rid of him in a heartbeat. Someone as clueless as this shouldn’t be running your op-ed pages.

    Jeff Barnes (37e349)

  42. Amen. Paging Sam Zell.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  43. iowahawk is awesomeness squared. David Burge is the bomb.

    Vermont Neighbor (629f2e)

  44. Matt DeBord, were you with Obama at the San Francisco gig? Good description.

    a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt

    Vermont Neighbor (629f2e)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.2325 secs.