Did Obama “scare the troops” about getting paid?

posted at 12:00 pm on August 1, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

When I first saw this headline from Jim Hoft, I’ll confess it was certainly more than a little off putting.

Outrageous… Obama Has Top Admiral Tell Troops in Afghanistan They May Not Get Paid

Nice… Obama’s scaring the hell out of our troops.
Barack Obama had Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen fly to Afghanistan this weekend to tell the troops serving there that their families may not get paid if a debt agreement is not reached. Admiral Mullen was meeting with US troops serving in southern Afghanistan.

Obama plays politics with the troops serving in harm’s way.

A pretty serious breach, if true. But is that what happened? Jim provides the video of the incident in question (which we’re including below) and there are a few data points missing if you want to prove the stated premise. First of all, Mullen was there on an “unannounced visit” for inspections and to address the troops. There isn’t any indication given – at least that I’ve been able to find thus far – that he was sent by Obama with the specific purpose of delivering this particular message.

Second, as the video shows, Mullen didn’t just deliver that bombshell out of the blue as part of his prepared remarks. The question was asked by one of the soldiers during the Q&A. And Mullen didn’t tell him he was or wasn’t going to be paid. He said, “I don’t know.”

On the one hand, that’s probably an accurate and appropriate response. The head of the Joint Chiefs is not part of the wonk team that works out all the intricacies of domestic economic policy, so it’s not really his business to know. But it was still a horrible answer in terms of the politics and representing the administration, and I imagine somebody is going to be having a chat with Mullen about it. Particularly knowing that there were cameras rolling, you’d think he would know better than to give such a potentially inflammatory answer.

In any event, I’ll leave it up to you to judge what lies beneath this mess. Here’s the video.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Whether PBHO tried to scare the troops or not doesn’t matter, he sure as hell tried to scare everyone else by saying this, that, or the other thing would be cut off.

Bishop on August 1, 2011 at 12:03 PM

He scared plenty of seniors around here. One elderly lady was crying in our store, and they weren’t blaming Republicans. The only person whose name was mentioned was BO.

Cody1991 on August 1, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Hoft comes up with some great scoops/stories, but he has a bad habit of jumping to conclusions that aren’t quite supported by the underlying facts. I wish he would stop doing that.

BuzzCrutcher on August 1, 2011 at 12:06 PM

I can’t believe this general simply didn’t tell Obama he’s full of it. In fact, if half of the generals on active duty today had half the cajones that the Turkish military have, they’d resign in protest of such nonsense and smear Obama’s bluster all over his face.

kens on August 1, 2011 at 12:09 PM

He scared them back in April so what’s to say he’s not scaring them implicitly by never declaring ‘come hell or high water’s the troops will get paid and on time?

AH_C on August 1, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Since the link is in the mill, here we go

Washington (CNN) – Veterans advocacy groups have been called to the White House for a late afternoon meeting Tuesday to be briefed by Obama administration officials on the impact to veterans if Congress does not pass legislation raising the debt ceiling.

“We were notified late last night of the meeting,” says David Autry, spokesman for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Autry and several other veterans advocacy groups say a growing number of veterans are worried their disability check or other benefits could be cut or withheld if the debt ceiling crisis is not resolved.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Above quote was from July 26th, 2011 11:24 AM ET

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 12:10 PM

I can tell you this. As of today, the military has been paid. As for as the 15th of the month, I’ll let you know. It is BS scare tactics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, BOTH sides need to knock this sh!t off. Holding the military hostage in order to advance an agenda is WRONG on so many levels. And telling men and women in uniform in a WAR ZONE that you are not sure they are going to get paid is IMHO a deriliction on duty. He is responsible for the health, welfare, and moral of the troops he commands. How in the f^ck is he ensuring that these men and women are going to be able to do their jobs and keep themselves and others safe? These men and women have enough to worry about, the last thing they need is to worry about their families back home.

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 12:10 PM

Well, this was part of his “get in their faces” and “get people out of their comfort zone” campaign. He certainly handled this debate in the Chicago style.

Fortunately, he’s incompetent. Hence, the spamming of Twitter accounts (as if legislators were chatty, sensitive celebrities, or even looked at their own Twitter feeds), and the dire threats of delayed checks to men who get three square meals and lodgings come hell or high water.

HitNRun on August 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Obama wants to appear to the left as having scared Veterans, Soldiers, defense advocates and the elderly, and he wants to appear the reverse, for different political reasons.

In the process he is what he naturally is, an Eunuch in Chief.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Romney is also an Eunuch.

Schadenfreude on August 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

This is to scare military wives and husbands back home & their extended families.

Obama & his ilk are a sick bunch.

portlandon on August 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

With this President, you don’t know. You don’t know anything. That’s the main reason that nobody is hiring new people.

RBMN on August 1, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Didn’t BO himself say exactly this… that he couldn’t guarantee seniors would get Social Security and the military would be paid if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised? I would think that’s why the question was asked in the first place. And seriously, it’s not a question our troops should even have to THINK about, should it?

UnderstandingisPower on August 1, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Well if this is indeed true, this should make those in the military give a long think who they would vote for in 2012 for president, and it is not bho! I should add, if their ballots are actually gotten out, returned on time, or counted! God bless our men, women, and families of our wonderful military.
L

letget on August 1, 2011 at 12:16 PM

The question was asked by one of the soldiers during the Q&A. And Mullen didn’t tell him he was or wasn’t going to be paid. He said, “I don’t know.”

A more appropriate answer would have been, “You’ll get paid no matter what unless the President decides to use you as political pawns.”

JohnInCA on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Also, there’s a lot of “don’t knowing” going on in this administration. The leader of the military doesn’t know if they will get paid. The leader of the DOJ doesn’t know he’s authorized thousands of high-powered rifles to go into Mexico. The Congress didn’t know what was in Obamacare and said they’d have to pass it to find out.

So, is it that they don’t know… or that they don’t want US to know what they know because it ain’t good?

UnderstandingisPower on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Can I say, “I question the timing?”

Let me know this was a regularly scheduled unannounced visit and how often these unannounced visits occur and I may buy into the Admin’s crapola on this aspect.

As for Mullen not knowing whether the troops will get their checks and on time, he at least looks to have been unprepared for the rather obvious eventuality of being asked this question, unless he was prepared because Obama told him that should be the answer. On that question, I’ll side with Mullen being prepared for his visit, rather than being unprepared because you don’t get into a merited position like that by being unprepared.

This was a staged act by the White House.

Dusty on August 1, 2011 at 12:18 PM

This is the second time in less than 5 months that my family has been held hostage by the idiots in Washington.
The men and women under my husband’s charge have been calling and asking what should they do if they don’t get paid. We have been telling them to keep the untilities on, feed your family and gas up the vehicle. Everything else can wait.

Here’s the rub on that. If a military member suffers “financial probelms” by not paying bills, being sent to collection agencies and the like, they risk loosing their security clearence and if it is really bad, kicked out of the military. People in Washington who know very little about the military don’t understand the ripple effect that this can have on our active duty troops. Talk about a threat to national security.

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 12:19 PM

In cases like this I don’t think TOTUS could get somebody off the Joint Chief’s of Staff to carry his water. Troops rely on honesty from their leaders and leaders from their subordinates. No matter how painful that truth may be.

I remember during Carter I think, or it might have been Clinton, that our pay got screwed with. Back then the civilian community had a very different attitude concerning the military. They didn’t care that we didn’t get paid. We all struggled for a couple of weeks keeping credit collectors at bay while they got it sorted out. Troops in the field aren’t worried about having money in their pockets, they are worried about keeping a roof over their families heads and food on the table. Troops that are worried about issues on the homefront are a serious impediment to mission accomplishment.

I am very concerned that this compromise bill floating around right now almost expressly targets the military. Sure there are cuts to be made, but I want those cuts made to programs and weapons not needed or wanted and to contracts awarded to friends of the lawmakers but I am afraid the cuts are going to go straight to the men and women in uniform. Expressly that part about automatic cuts to defense if those other magical unicorn cuts can’t be found.

Just A Grunt on August 1, 2011 at 12:21 PM

Mullen’s noncommittal answer of “I honestly don’t know” makes a lot of sense, based upon what we all know of the Commander-in-Chief’s modus operandi.

Redhead Infidel on August 1, 2011 at 12:22 PM

With this President, you don’t know. You don’t know anything. That’s the main reason that nobody is hiring new people.

RBMN on August 1, 2011 at 12:14 PM

The Republicans must run on this and this alone. If I hear of ONE MORE “Uhm, you need to sign this petition about Christians and gays….:” !

Marcus on August 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM

A more appropriate answer would have been, “You’ll get paid no matter what unless the President decides to use you as political pawns.”

JohnInCA on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

He actually cannot give that as an answer even if he knows it is true. It’s called insubordination and he’d rightfully be fired.

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 12:19 PM

I knew some people that got in some trouble because of their financial situation. We were always lectured about finances because money is the easiest way to turn an informant. I hope you all make it though this, I don’t believe for one second that Obama would allow the troops to go unpaid, the only thing he cares about is the next election.

Mord on August 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM

How naive can one be. Of course he intended to scare the troops. He intended to scare everybody. Obviously he diffused the scare message through other channels and catspaws. That’s how it works.

rrpjr on August 1, 2011 at 12:28 PM

milwife: Assume Obama and the Democrats told the GOP, ‘Clean debt ceiling hike, or the seniors/military gets it’. Do you think the GOP should have signed it or not?

Scott H on August 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

“Soldiers get paid? maybe, who knows.

But the abortion industry must not suffer one lost procedure. I came into office vowing to kill as many babies as possible, and Allah (PBHO) willing, I intent to do just that.”

BobMbx on August 1, 2011 at 12:32 PM

I’ve become disinclined to give this administration the benefit of the doubt about anything.

forest on August 1, 2011 at 12:33 PM

At a minimum his answer should have been “By God I’ll do everything I can to ensure you are paid”. Unfortunately, Mullen is an Obama shill and the sooner he’s gone the better. He should have simply told the truth . . . yes he may have been fired but we expect that kind of courage and honesty from our military officers. Obama has politicized the upper echelons of our military and that’s despicable.

rplat on August 1, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Where,on Earth, is Canopfor? Bull-dozed daily by “Just in” news, which takes several hours to sort out, never is good; we continue to try and maintain the front, regardless.

betsyz on August 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

I linked this over the weekend based on Mr. Hoft’s headline alone. It was probably unfair but I am skeptical of anything The Won does, including sending honorable men to promote his agenda.

Cindy Munford on August 1, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Particularly knowing that there were cameras rolling, you’d think he would know better than to give such a potentially inflammatory answer.

You’d think. But there have been several times Mr. President knew damn well the cameras were rolling and said basically the same thing, not only about that but about the social security checks. Captain Demagogue never misses an opportunity to frighten the masses. And blame the GOP.

scalleywag on August 1, 2011 at 12:37 PM

betsyz on August 1, 2011 at 12:36 PM

kingjester emailed him but apparently it was returned, hawkdriver has also emailed him but hasn’t gotten an answer yet.

Cindy Munford on August 1, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Scott H on August 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM

That’s not the point. The point I am making is that they need to stop hoding the military and seniors hostage.
Are you in the millitary? Are you a senior?
If not, how would you feel if your families well being was threatened? My husband does what he does because he believes in his service to this country. Our seniors have done their job. It was on their backs that this country was built. It is because of the military that we are afforded our freedoms.
Holding them hostage because it advances someones ability to get reelected is beyond disgusting. Obama is the CIC, will his pay be held? Is his pay threatened? You can’t not pay the troops as CIC and still collect your own pay check.

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Be sure to read the linked story in Headlines about how we got bin Laden. According to the New Yorker, O’bama was the greatest military leader since Patton during that operation.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Obama is the first president to use fear in any way to promote an agenda. Leaders remain calm and invoke confidence in the people. Obama is not a leader–a community organizer promotes fear and anger, resentment. Class Warfare. Welcome to Chi Town.

Herb on August 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM

A more appropriate answer would have been, “You’ll get paid no matter what or I and the JCS will resign en masse.”

JohnInCA on August 1, 2011 at 12:17 PM

FIFY. Unfortuantely, Mullen, like his boss will never sacrifice their power for the antiquated sense of honor. Hard to believe, but this has been the trend for most of the leaders passing thru the JCS for the past couple of decades.

AH_C on August 1, 2011 at 12:49 PM

I’d rather get an honest ‘I don’t know’ than a feelgood BS answer.

James on August 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Mullen did the right thing in not trying to BS the troops. If he had known what might happen, he would have said so. But he didn’t. That means Panetta doesn’t know.

It’s in character with the Xtreme lack of information coming from the administration about what would happen in the case of a debt-ceiling impasse. The bottom line is that Obama will decide whom to stick it to if we do get to a “prioritization” situation. Obama could have instructed his cabinet to guarantee that the troops would get paid. The money is there. But he didn’t. If he had, Mullen would have said so.

J.E. Dyer on August 1, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Milwife

Since the Prez is the only one who can direct the Treasury to pay bills in the event of default, the Republicans could not guarantee that O’Bama would issue that directive. Only Barry can make that promise, and he refuses to do so until he has manipulated the crisis for whatever he can gain.

And since he doesn’t care about your peace of mind, all you and my many military friends (and our business that gets 75% of its receipts from soldiers) can only wait and see.

Is it immoral? Absolutely. This man wants you to question everything you’ve ever believed about this great country.

rwenger43 on August 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Well, there is no doubt left he scared the ever living hell out of people who receive social security and disability checks.

I’ve had a few friends who depend upon one of those two checks talking to me about it and it brought them to tears they were so afraid of what they were going to do.

Obama should be ashamed of himself getting on television and scaring people in that fashion.

That’s not leadership.

ButterflyDragon on August 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Say what you will about any past president – but I never had to worry that I wouldn’t be paid or that my allotments wouldn’t go out on time when I was at war.
Lil barry d’ohbama will come to find that his scare tactics are possibly the worst mistake that he has made in his entire community organizing “career”.
Threatening to break one of the most sacred promises between America and her warriors is going to backfire badly, and will come back to haunt him in the days ahead.
Likewise his bullying and scaring seniors with lies simply to get his way – like the petulant, spoiled brat that he is.

I cabbot even begin to express my disgust with the vile creature occupying space in the white house.

Solaratov on August 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Mullen isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Honest, yes; sharp, no.

GarandFan on August 1, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Is it immoral? Absolutely. This man wants you to question everything you’ve ever believed about this great country.

rwenger43 on August 1, 2011 at 12:57 PM

I agree. However, there is nothing in this world that would ever change the way I feel about my country or my husbands service to her. I am a very proud military wife like millions of other military wives. They can kick us, spit on us, and call us names all day long. I will always hold my head high and know that the sacrifices we make for our country is something I will forever be proud of and never apologize for.
We stick together and take care of each other. No matter the outcome I know that we can always lean on each other in times of need.

milwife88 on August 1, 2011 at 1:22 PM

and the dire threats of delayed checks to men who get three square meals and lodgings come hell or high water.

HitNRun on August 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I guess that I never missed a meal and never slept out in the rain. It’s obvious that you never served.

Special Forces Grunt on August 1, 2011 at 1:33 PM

HitNRun on August 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

What about their families? I think The Won’s tactics are horrific but these guys have families at with mortgages to pay and groceries to buy.

Cindy Munford on August 1, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Be sure to read the linked story in Headlines about how we got bin Laden. According to the New Yorker, O’bama was the greatest military leader since Patton during that operation.

Del Dolemonte on August 1, 2011 at 12:43 PM

When he slithered out yesterday to take the claim for what may be a bill that can pass Congress, it reminded me of how he did the same on OBL. He had as little to do with one as the other.

slickwillie2001 on August 1, 2011 at 2:38 PM

Shame on Admiral Mullen for not anticipating that question and getting the answer beforehand. That’s what he has a freaking STAFF for.

So, not the administration (for this specific item other than precipitating the crisis in general) but the Chairman.

JeffWeimer on August 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Here’s another newsflash – Military personnel get paid on the 1st and the 15th, so they don’t have to worry about Wednesday until about next week or so.

Retirees (like me) get their retainer on the 1st, so we don’t have to worry until the end of the month.

SS? I have no idea, I’m not that old yet.

JeffWeimer on August 1, 2011 at 2:55 PM

and the dire threats of delayed checks to men who get three square meals and lodgings come hell or high water.

HitNRun on August 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM

Based on that mindless comment it appears that you’ve never served anything other than yourself.

rplat on August 1, 2011 at 3:09 PM

So, not the administration (for this specific item other than precipitating the crisis in general) but the Chairman.

JeffWeimer on August 1, 2011 at 2:50 PM

that’s true, he should have prepped himself for a question like that, but this means basically spinning…on the other hand, his frankness is disarming, and I think it speaks volumes about the inanity and incompetence of this administration than about his own…Somebody at the WH should have briefed him on this and lay out for him all possible scenarios and explain how the whole thing would affect the mil, in case we default, and what options are there…he’s neither a politician (well, arguably, in that position they all kinda are :), nor an economist…I mean O’Bama should know by now if he intends to pay the soldiers or not, in case we default, I am sure he has a plan, and if not the mil, what other govt branches would get paid…Mullen could not possible dream what the presidents picks would be, unless he is briefed on that…but that was supposed to be O’s ‘nuclear option’, right, hence the ‘secrecy’ and playing politics with the issue + the scaremongering…so, yeah, in conclusion we have an ass of a president and a not very ‘bright’ (as in glib, ) JCS Chairman…

jimver on August 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Mullen gave the soldier an honest answer. I’d expect nothing less.

hawksruleva on August 1, 2011 at 3:29 PM

I mean O’Bama should know by now if he intends to pay the soldiers or not, in case we default, I am sure he has a plan, and if not the mil, what other govt branches would get paid…Mullen could not possible dream what the presidents picks would be, …

jimver on August 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

You think Obama has any idea what he would do in case of a debt ceiling breach? I’m sure he has no idea. And in fact, Mullen basically mirrored what Obama himself said, when asked if he could guarantee that Social Security checks and checks to the troops would go out in the event no deal was reached.

hawksruleva on August 1, 2011 at 3:31 PM

You think Obama has any idea what he would do in case of a debt ceiling breach?
hawksruleva on August 1, 2011 at 3:31 PM

wild assumption my part, I guess…

jimver on August 1, 2011 at 3:37 PM

‘on my part’ that is

jimver on August 1, 2011 at 3:39 PM

I would ask one question, would GWBush ever toy with the troops?

Metanis on August 1, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Obama plays politics with the troops serving in harm’s way.
First of all, Mullen was there on an “unannounced visit” for inspections and to address the troops.

There isn’t any indication given – at least that I’ve been able to find thus far – that he was sent by Obama with the specific purpose of delivering this particular message.

Naw no indication at all! He was just, out of the blue, yanked out put of a plane to Afghanistan to tell the “troops” your families may not get paid if a debt agreement is not reached.

Several reasons why I think this is a load of crock.
1) I have a brain
2) I was in the Navy
3) The last thing you want to do to the troops in harms way is to take their focus off the mission. That gets folks killed. All the troops KNOW they have counterparts that are not deployed at this time covering the home issues.
4) The appearance of an 11th hour staged photo op. Or as Obama To Troops: ‘You Guys Make a Pretty Good Photo-Op’ November 19, 2009 You only get 1 time to make a 1st impression!

DSchoen on August 1, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Telling a guy holding a gun that he is not going to get paid is not a smart move.

Uniblogger on August 1, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Telling a guy holding a gun that he is not going to get paid is not a smart move.

Uniblogger on August 1, 2011 at 4:32 PM

I’m a lot more worried about the inner cities, when they are told -no more food stamps, welfare, WIC, EIC, section 8 subsidies, subsidies for utilities, etc, etc.

slickwillie2001 on August 1, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Even Obama wouldn’t be that stupid. But he probably wouldn’t mind if that’s what everybody believed.

RebeccaH on August 1, 2011 at 5:27 PM

A couple of thoughts;

During the Indian wars in the western US, the troops went for a year without pay, and they fought (should I say “soldiered”?) on, despite the serious hardships brought on themselves and their families.

And to quote from Roman Legionairre Marcus Flavinius “If we must leave our bones to bleach uselessly on the desert road, then beware the Legions’ anger!”.

new2wnc on August 1, 2011 at 8:38 PM

Maybe this guy has some idea of the antipathy Obama has for the military. Biden was right when he said this guy was made of steel, so are hammers and sickles.

Axeman on August 2, 2011 at 7:42 AM