It is pretty well agreed upon that the DNC’s roll call during the official nomination part of the convention Tuesday was the best part of the night’s coverage. The new video version of that part of the convention process can remain in future conventions if conventions are not a thing of the past now. The videos were great because they were entertaining. Delegates used scenic backgrounds for the most part as a way to spotlight the best in their states and many were outdoor scenes.
My favorite of the state videos was New Mexico’s. I tweeted at the time that they did it right. Traditional elements were visible like the placard with the state’s name on it and a sign with the state Democrat Party’s website. The landscape behind the people was simply beautiful. I tweeted about it at 9:04 p.m. (I’m on Central time) It was simple and very well done. I’m sorry to tell you that Texas Democrats used their time to promote gun-grabbing by exploiting the El Paso mass shooting at Walmart.
New Mexico did it right. Beautiful scenery in background, a person holding up the New Mexico placard traditionally used at conventions. Another person holding up the website for NM Democrats. Well done. #DemConvention2020
— Karen Townsend (@penguinponders) August 19, 2020
But earlier, at 8:47 p.m. I posted a different kind of tweet. While two America Samoa delegates were on screen, Aliitama Sotoa and Petti Matila according to the AP, standing behind them on either side were two American soldiers in uniform. Frankly, that startled me. I noted that at the time. I thought that using the U.S. military in political events is a no-no.
American Samoa uses 2 soldiers in its video while nominating Biden. I thought that was a no-no. #DemConvention2020
— Karen Townsend (@penguinponders) August 19, 2020
I didn’t really see anything online about it, though, so I moved on. But, why would two soldiers be in the video? Were they security for the delegates? That didn’t make sense. I see now that someone else noticed it and posted on Twitter.
— Leo Shane III (@LeoShane) August 19, 2020
The Pentagon confirms that the incident is being investigated. The two soldiers are being described as “junior enlisted soldiers”, maybe to downplay the violation of the rules. It won’t be hard to investigate this because the soldiers were wearing face masks but their name tags on their uniforms were visible. One soldier looks to be female, the other male.
‘The Army is investigating two Soldiers from the 9th Mission Support Command who appeared in uniform during the Democratic National Convention on Aug.18,” said an Army statement. “Wearing a uniform to a partisan political event like this is prohibited.”
“The Army follows the Department of Defense’s longstanding and well-defined policy regarding political campaigns and elections to avoid the perception of DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any political candidate, campaign or cause,” it continued.
All American military personnel, active duty members and reservists are instructed to remain apolitical during political campaigns.
Military personal can support whatever political party and candidate they want to but it is to be on their own time, not while on duty and not while in uniform. A Pentagon spokesman clarified its policy. “All members of the Armed Forces, including active duty members, members of the reserve component not on active duty, and retired members, are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign or election events.”
So, what’s the story? The DNC is busy playing defense. “The composition of that shot was an oversight”, you see. Sure, two soldiers just happened to show up and stood there while a political video was filmed. Not just any political video, either, but one in which two DNC delegates nominated the Democrat Party’s presidential nominee. Can you imagine the immediate and loud disapproval that would happen if the RNC did that? The Trump deranged members of the press alone would be burning up Twitter with outrage.
The sight of the uniformed soldiers had raised eyebrows because U.S. military personnel are not supposed to participate in political events while in uniform. “We’re grateful for the participation of delegations and state volunteers in all 57 states and territories — they made the inspiring roll call we saw last night possible,” the official told ABC News. “The composition of that shot was an oversight.”
“Each state was asked to highlight issues and values that matter most and the American Samoa delegation wanted to highlight their commitment to military service when they filmed their segment,” the official said.
Most Americans would like to show their appreciation and “commitment to the military”, I think, but the DNC knew it was wrong and they let the video go on anyway. It should be noted that American Samoa has among the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory. Nonetheless, it’s a no-no. There is a bit of irony that the Democrats have been caught doing what President Trump is criticized for doing – politicizing the military.
Earlier this year, Defense Department Secretary Mark Esper issued a periodic reminder to troops to be mindful during an election year to “uphold DoD’s longstanding tradition of remaining apolitical as we carry out our official responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party platform calls for an end to “the Trump Administration’s politicization of the armed forces.”
Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley publicly apologized after he accompanied President Trump as he walked across Lafayette Square to take a photo with a Bible outside St. John’s Church in the height of racial injustice protests in Washington, D.C.
Democrats want to portray themselves as supportive of the military. The military is filled with voters of both parties. There is a line that can’t be crossed in our constitutional republic, though, and that is the military cannot be politicized. Soldiers flanking DNC delegates during a political speech crossed that line.