Rant of the Day, Tuesday, October 4, 2005
Back on August 13th, I published a rant about the incident President Clinton described in a recent Larry King interview (excerpted below). As far as I can detemine, this is the first time Clinton has publicly spoken about that incident.
For background, here is a portion of the August 13th Rant of the Day
describing that incident:
In October 1993, Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randy Shugart were killed during the Battle of Mogadishu trying to rescue a helicopter crew. They were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
At the White House presentation ceremony, SFC Shugart's father, Herb, launched an angry, personal attack on President Clinton, blaming him for his son's death. The vulgar diatribe lasted for several minutes, during which President Clinton endured the embittered father's wrath.
At the time, I read about this incident in a German newspaper, but today the only on-line references I could find are on right-wing websites - all of which find Herb Shugart's behavior quite praiseworthy. (I won't link to those sites, but you can find a nice example at Powerslime.)
However, the German news article I read contained something you won't find on any of the wingnut sites. The Secret Service had warned President Clinton beforehand that Herb Shugart, a Clinton-hater who had been quite vocal since his son's death, was planning to cause an unpleasant scene at the presentation ceremony. Still, President Clinton chose to personally present the posthumous Medal of Honor to Mr. Shugart for his son's valor and sacrifice.
In this October 2nd Larry King interview, Clinton explained his personal motivation in meeting with Herb Shugart to present his son’s posthumous Medal of Honor. Please read the interview carefully.
Larry King Live transcript
, October 2, 2005:
KING: Should the president have met with the lady who lost her son?
CLINTON: I think he'd seen her once before. You know, I think I would have but that's a question only he can answer.
KING: But you would have.
CLINTON: Yes, you know, I met with the people that I gave the Medal of Honor to, people who -- some people who were killed on Black Hawk Down and one of the fathers was very angry at me and I knew it. And he said some really rough things to me and...
KING: How do you handle that?
CLINTON: It wasn't easy but I thought I owed it to him. His son gave his life in the service of this country and this father served in Vietnam, was a veteran. I thought that he had the right to say to me whatever he wanted to say. There is no greater pain in life than having a child die before you.
There is nothing worse and I had sent his son into harm's way. And the thing was not managed as it should have been. And he was -- as far as I was concerned, he'd earned the right to say whatever he wanted to me. And if he felt better when it was over, then it was a precious little thing I could do is to take the heat coming in.
So that's the way I feel. But that's a decision that each president has to make, you know, because it's not like he can change the lady's opinion. I just -- I think, you know, when you send people into harm's way and you know there is going to be killing and dying, some people are going to be very unhappy. History will record whether she was right or he was right on the policy but on the human level, she lost her son and that's a tough thing.
Lieutenant AWOL has never explained his personal motivation in avoiding an unpleasant meeting with Cindy Sheehan.
Personal behavior is always a reflection of personal character.
Bush cuts and runs to avoid a tongue lashing from the parent of soldier killed when he, as Commander-in-Chief ordered that soldier into battle, while Clinton accepted the ordeal as his personal duty as Commander-in-Chief.
Clinton's behavior is what “taking responsibility” looks like. Compare and contrast with Lieutanant AWOL's personal behavior.