PUTS BOTH FEET IN MOUTH - TOP GENERAL
We're not going to get into the briar patch, debating whether or not gays should serve in the military. But we guess many have, and are sure more than a few fought bravely and died for their country. Some are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Probably Marine Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while self-absorbed with his own piety, wouldn't stoop so low as to have those horrid "homosexuals" disinterred from Arlington National Cemetery if he could walk "row upon row" among the graves and ID them all, but he sure has shown at times he can be very stupid.
Getting into a debate about "immoral" behavior and acting "holier than thou," doesn't help Pace's new boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, one damn bit. All the general has done is cause a new distraction and highlighted the hypocrisy that has long existed in the Marine Corps.
CLOSET CASES IN THE FLAG RANKS OF THE CORPS
We know from a very senior officer, now retired, that a former Marine general destined for "big things" in the Clinton administration, suddenly decided to put in his papers and go when the estranged wife of his former military aide threatened to go public about what he made his colonel do. And we're not talking about carrying the general's briefcase.
The four-star, once trumpeted in TIME magazine as a real up-and-comer, never did reach the high position he aspired to. But Pace did. And if the general, nicknamed "the boy scout," isn't aware of that bit of recent history when he pontificates about gays, he's dumber than we realized.
Pace has been around long enough to have served under one Marine commandant who also has an interesting past. His vintage is not that far back. He condemned the gays in public, but in private, his actions were something else. There's enough ranking officers still left in the system who know exactly what and whom we're talking about.
We've never had a particularly high opinion of Gen. Pace, although we certainly respect him for his combat service in Vietnam. It's sad to see someone who should know better, be willing to genuflect before the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, just to get the top military spot. Many Marines have contacted us with comments so vitriolic about what a "yes man" they consider Pace to be, their words couldn't be published on these pages.
That's not just the grunts, but active duty and retired warrant officers and commissioned ranks, all the way up to full colonel.
A DOUBLE-STANDARD OF JUSTICE WHEN IT COMES TO "ADULTERY"
The Chicago TRIBUNE should be congratulated for a fascinating interview with Gen. Pace. Because, buried in the general's rambling remarks, was an incredible statement that shows Pace is either out of touch with what goes on in his own Marine Corps, or he thought he could "blow smoke" in the reporter's direction.
We're referring to Pace's declaration that the Corps doesn't "look the other way" in cases of adultery, and in fact, aggressively "prosecutes" them.
Maybe they "prosecute" that offense, a big crime in the military, but it seems a certain Marine sergeant major on Iwakuni MCAS [see related stories box] who slept with his major's wife for seven months while the officer was off fighting in Iraq, got an incredibly light sentence. In fact, it was an absolute "slap-on-the-wrist.
Thirty days in the brig and losing one stripe - being allowed to retire in grade as a master sergeant E-8 with full pension and benefits if he got out ASAP - sure beats what a lance corporal or even a gunnery sergeant would have gotten if they had not been top enlisted man at Iwakuni. They'd be on their way to the Leavenworth DB before you could say: "Different spanks for different ranks."
Some enterprising journalists should ask the righteous general if he was aware of the scandal we mentioned above. Maybe Pace could offer his views on who deserves punishment and who doesn't.
Defense Secretary Gates has shown he knows how to "pull the trigger." He fired a political hack, Army Secretary Frances Harvey, and two Medical Corps general officers over the Walter Reed patient care scandal. We suggest Gates take a hard look at whether or not retaining Rumsfeld's "yes man" as top military officer is in the best interests of "cleaning house" and improving the image of the Pentagon.