I can’t understand how anyone involved in this thought it was a good idea but it’s not the first time lately that the military has bent the rules against service members playing politics while in uniform in order to embarrass a populist Republican. The Marine Corps had to apologize for unprofessional behavior a few days ago when one of its social-media accounts started snarking at Tucker Carlson for wondering why pregnant women are allowed to serve. The Pentagon went so far as to issue a press release responding to Carlson with the clickbait-y headline, “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.”
A Twitter pal recently observed that the U.S. military has received withering criticism in the post-9/11 age about life-and-death matters like the occupation of Iraq and counterterrorist drone strikes in remote lands and they’ve endured it (mostly) in silence, which is proper in a country where civilians are in charge. Cross certain lines of wokeness, though, and it turns out that even the Marines have their breaking point. When did owning the cons become part of the defense department’s mission?
Which brings us to this odd, improper spectacle yesterday:
Guam Rep. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas and members of the Guam National Guard visited the office of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene after she falsely called the U.S. territory a foreign land. pic.twitter.com/vssnjCwUuG
— The Hill (@thehill) March 15, 2021
The man in the suit leading the delegation is Michael San Nicolas, Guam’s representative in Congress. (Because it’s a territory, not a state, he doesn’t have voting privileges.) San Nicolas took exception to a comment Marjorie Taylor Greene made in her speech at CPAC: “We believe our hard-earned tax dollars should just go for America. Not for, what? China, Russia, the Middle East, Guam, whatever, wherever.” Guam is part of America, of course; many American service members have been stationed there. With the island’s pride wounded, and knowing that Greene is good fodder for social-media content, San Nicolas (a Democrat) seized on her gaffe as an opportunity to educate her about his home. “Congresswoman Greene is a new member, and we will be paying a visit to her and delivering delicious Chamorro Chip Cookies as part of our ongoing outreach to new members to introduce them to our wonderful island of Guam,” he said a few days ago.
And that’s just what he did. Except he also brought Guam’s National Guard contingent with him. In uniform.
Some objected to the spectacle on grounds that bringing uniformed troops to a member of Congress’s office in an antagonistic context is an attempt to intimidate them physically. I think that’s overbaked, and I’m willing to give San Nicolas the benefit of the doubt on it. You don’t bring cookies if you’re looking for a fight. He asked the Guard to come with him, I assume, because he wanted her to see with her own eyes that Guamanians are wearing the uniform of their country and are helping to keep her safe. What he and they are guilty of, though, is trying to embarrass her by confronting her on camera in what was obviously a stunt orchestrated for San Nicolas’s and the Democrats’ political benefit. They wanted some footage of Greene looking sheepish and maybe having to answer some embarrassing questions and so they brought in the Guard as props to heighten the embarrassment — again, in uniform, knowing that soldiers aren’t supposed to engage in political activity when they’re not in civilian attire.
I assume these troops were at the Capitol to begin with because they’re stationed there as part of the security effort after January 6. Did San Nicolas pull them off duty to make this stunt happen? If not, what was the process by which he convinced uniformed Guardsmen to join him for a visit to a congresswoman’s office for the purpose of humiliating her? Did their C.O. order them to accompany him? We deserve some answers on how this happened. As others have pointed out, if Ted Cruz had marched over to, say, AOC’s office with members of the Texas National Guard in tow hoping to embarrass her somehow, the media would be awash in hot takes today about violent intimidation and improper political use of the military.
Greene’s staff handled it well, to their credit.