Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Headline: Hugh Shelton craves straight vodka when stressed

Character and integrity are dear to Hugh Shelton's heart, so he orchestrated a deception on the President he served to settle to a personal score. Classy.

At a recent speaking engagement, Shelton weighed in on a certain presidential candidate:

"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"

"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

What The New Republic has to say:


To put it bluntly, Shelton has a lot of nerve smearing Clark like this--especially after the way he and Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen engineered Clark's firing. Not even two months after Clark won the Kosovo war--with about as little help from the Joint Chiefs Chairman as possible--Shelton called Clark to tell him that he was being relieved of his command. The official reason was that, legally, Shelton's deputy Joe Ralston needed a new assignment immediately, lest he drop down to two-star status--a very flimsy pretext.

Then Shelton twisted the knife. Here's Clark's version of events--Shelton has not offered his--as related in his memoir, Waging Modern War:

Still, I hoped that there might yet be a graceful way out for everyone, if I could just explore it a minute with Shelton, but he needed to get off the phone. "Look, Wes," he said, "I have to tell the Secretary that I've notified you. He's in Japan and he told me that I had to have notified you before 4:30 Washington time, so I have to break this off and call him."

According to Clark, Shelton agreed to pick up the conversation later. But the next call Clark got wasn't from the chairman. It was from Washington Post reporter Bradley Graham, who told Clark, "I've got an official leak that says you are to be replaced by Joe Ralston." (Given that Cohen was in Japan, it's not hard to figure out who leaked the news.) When Clark finally got back in touch with Shelton, the chairman bluntly informed him that it was all out of his hands: "The SecDef's office has already sent information to the Congress notifying them of the change."

Even if Clark and Shelton had not sparred frequently during the Kosovo war, this would have been a dishonorable way to treat a general who had just led the U.S. to victory in NATO's first-ever war. So the next time Shelton wants to talk about "integrity and character issues," he had better make sure he doesn't have a few of those to work out himself.

Well, he may not have said what his party affiliation is, but given the hypocrisy and self-righteousness he displayed, my money is that he's damn good at being a Republican.

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