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Military Voting for "Love of Country"

November 5, 2012
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SEAL Team Six Film May Backfire With Military Voters

A pre-election documentary dramatizing Obama's role as Commander-in-Chief, titled SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, hit an unexpected note of irony that could backfire with military voters.  Aired on National Geographic TV Sunday night (Nov. 4) the film ended with a clip from the speech that President Barack Obama delivered to the nation from the White House East Room on May 2, 2011.  Announcing the death of Bin Laden, President Obama said,  "[A]s a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed."

Focus on that statement may rankle military veterans already outraged over news reports that White House officials watched the organized attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.  On that day Ambassador Christopher Stevens, foreign service officer Sean Smith, and former SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed by jihadists who attacked with mortars and burned the consulate down while pleas for immediate help went unanswered.    

The growing controversy may have swelled the numbers of more than 500 retired admirals and generals who raised money and paid for a full-page ad in today's Washington Times, headlined, "We, the undersigned, proudly support Governor Mitt Romney as our nation’s next President and Commander-in-Chief."  In contrast, only five retired high-ranking officers have publicly endorsed President Obama, the most prominent being Army Generals Colin Powell and Wesley Clark.  Retired Adm. John B. Nathman delivered a pro-Obama speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.

Military personnel on duty are barred from partisan political activities, but according to a recent survey by the Military Times, active-duty subscriber/respondents are likely to cast their votes for the Romney/Ryan ticket at a rate greater than two-to-one, 66% to 26%.  There appear to be many reasons why duty to obey the Commander-in-Chief is not translating into political support, with 48% of Romney supporters and 41% of Obama supporters indicating that the economy was their greatest motivator. 

Sixty-two percent of Military Times active-duty readers were critical of pending defense budget cuts.  And contrary to numerous reports that all is going well with repeal of the 1993 law regarding gays in the military, usually mislabeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the Military Times survey found that 53% of active-duty respondents rated that action 'fair/poor,' compared to 34% in favor.  

The Military Times poll did not measure the discomfort of military voters who remember when an Al Qaeda-trained Muslim gunned down two army recruiters in Little Rock, AR, in June 2009, but President Obama refused to call the attack terrorism.  Many military families also remember that when Army Major Nidal Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" while murdering 14 people at Fort Hood, TX, in November 2009, the administration called it "workplace violence." Military Times did ask active-duty respondents, "Which candidate do you believe has your best interests at heart?"  The margin was better than two-to-one, Romney 55%, Obama 24%.

There are no procedures for uniformed personnel to express their opinions officially, but a recent annual survey taken by the Center for Army Leadership at Fort Leavenworth, KS, found that only 26% of Army officers surveyed believed that the Army was headed in the right direction.  According to Army Times, a number of respondents cited the negative influence of government policy makers (outside the Army) and "senior Army leaders who felt the need to bow to politically correct solutions' to appease policy makers." 

When high-level sources apparently leaked information about the secret raid on Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and President Obama praised his own role in the so-called Arab Spring,  former Navy SEALS organizing a group called OPSEC prepared a film titled Dishonorable Disclosures and an advertising message titled Bump in the Road.  Other independent organizations, including Let Freedom Ring, have aired 'Why Mr. President, Why?' advertisements questioning the president's actions before, during and after the coordinated attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

In August the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, adopted a national platform including seven solid planks on military/social issues.  Republicans also took positions on national defense that were in strong contrast to positions on national defense that were adopted at the Democratic National Convention.  With so many active-duty people voting via absentee ballot (57%, according to the Military Times survey), vigilance will be required to ensure that all votes are counted.

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