From Zero to Hero
It wasn’t too long ago that the President’s foes, broadly known as “The Resistance” were saying that anyone serving on Trump’s White House staff are traitors. Try not to be surprised that the Resistance is now outraged that the President dismissed two Army Colonels on detail to the White House NSC staff. This is the world of “Zero to Hero” where all you have to do to be a hero to the President’s opponents is do something anti-Trump and you are Ulysses reborn.
LTC Alexander Vindman is a Ukraine-Hawk, advocating for a vigorous armed defense of that country against Russian aggression. This is not a shock given that his family are recent immigrants from that country.
In the previous administration, where armed assistance to Ukraine was denied out of a fear that it would provoke Russia, LTC Vindman would have been considered to be a man with dangerously subversive ideas contrary to the Obama administration’s policies. Had he told Ukrainian officials that they need not pay any attention to President Obama or his policies and that he would intervene on their behalf, he would have been in big trouble. Had he appeared before Congress saying that he was convinced that Obama’s non-interventionalist posture posed a danger to U.S. national security, he would be in big trouble. If he leaked to the media his displeasure with Obama’s policies towards Ukraine, he would be in big trouble. And the same people praising him now would say he was a traitor. These are all things LTC Vindman did working for President Trump, who relieved him of his duties at the White House.
He wasn’t “fired” as is being widely reported. Vindman is still a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. They will simply insert him in another job slot at the Pentagon or some other staff position until he leaves active duty. There is reporting by Catherine Herridge at CBS News that several other lower-profile staffers were also “returned” to the NSC along with the Vindman brothers.
Is his career and that of his brother over? Yeah, most definitely. The military has an “Up or Out” culture: If an officer on active duty is passed over for promotion, it’s the end of things. It doesn’t take much either. OERs (Officer Evaluation Reports) use a numerical scoring system. The comments on the OER can be glowing with effusive praise for the officer, but if the performance number scores put him below his peers, that’s it, his career in the Army is over.
Let’s just pretend for a moment that one of the Vindman’s superior officers (suicidally) signs off on an OER that puts them with or above their peers in scoring for advancement. Promotions of all officers above the rank of O-3 go before the Senate and require unanimous consent of that entire body. If a single Senator objects to an officer being promoted, it’s over for him. Neither of the Vindmans could expect to make it past the Senate for promotion to Colonel.
“He is a political activist in uniform.”
Here’s the thing, The Vindmans may have already known their careers were going to stop at the LTC level. Several of Alexander Vindman’s peers have come forward and were very critical of his performance even as a junior officer. In a story that appeared on the politically conservative news site “American Greatness,” retired LTC James Hickman described having to pull a young LT Vindman out of a room full of Russian troops during a joint training exercise because of derogatory remarks he made about the U.S. and Americans in general:
“He was apologetic of American culture, laughed about Americans not being educated or worldly, and really talked up Obama & globalism to the point of (sic) uncomfortable. He would speak [with] the Russian soldiers and laugh as if at the expense of the U.S. personnel. It was so uncomfortable and unprofessional, one of the GS [civil service] employees came and told me everything above. I walked over and sat within earshot of Vindman, and sure enough, all was confirmed.”
LTC Hickman, who was then a Major, got Vindman out of the room and said he “verbally reprimanded” him — this is the genteel parlance of an officer and a gentleman who doesn’t want to say that he chewed his ass for 20 minutes.
I’ve also been told by a reliable source still on active duty that officers who knew Alexander Vindman did not believe he would ever make Colonel.
A Soft Landing Without a Parachute
I can’t believe that LTC Vindman was the only guy unaware that he was not going beyond his present rank — and that may serve to explain his actions. He had nothing to lose and could go out in a great big anti-Trump blaze of glory that could end up being pretty profitable. And the Left wasted no time in glorifying him. At the recent Democrat Candidates Debate, Joe Biden invited the audience to stand and applaud LTC Vindman as a hero, saying that Vindman should receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (forget the fact that it’s a civilian decoration, not a military one).
The Vindman brothers will do fine in their post-military careers. The Left has an extensive network of cushy university lecturers and think-tank gigs that will provide them with lucrative employment. There will also be paid speeches. Either could find themselves offered a paid contributor gig on CNN, MSNBC or another network. Both will be offered Tall-All book deals. Not to mention the “Truth Teller” award that will be bestowed by some Left-wing political group at a lavish fundraising dinner. The Vindmans are now both heroes to the Left and they do a very good job of rewarding professional-grade political disruption with professional-grade income and celebrity status.
And of course, there is that standing offer from Ukraine to make Vindman their Defense Minister.