Having had to endure former President Trump’s temper tantrums outside his civil fraud trial in New York all week, we thought it might be instructive to remind everyone how a real president behaves and sounds.
President Joe Biden’s speech last week in Arlington, Va. was a farewell tribute to Gen. Mark Milley as he stepped down from his position as chairman of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, an introduction to Milley’s successor, Biden appointee U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, and an admonition to U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., for holding up military promotions and to the rest of the Senate Republicans for not publicly speaking against what Tuberville is doing, namely killing military morale and endangering national security.
As you read Biden’s words, remember that Milley was appointed Joint Chiefs chairman by Trump but that Milley often stood up to Trump in that role and is expected to be a witness against Trump at his federal trial for allegedly defrauding the United States by trying to illegally remain in power after losing the 2020 election. And keep in mind that just a week before this speech by Biden, Trump insinuated in a social media post that Milley was a traitor who Trump posited would have been executed in another age.
We offer here three excerpts from Biden’s excellent speech of Sept. 29: his paean to Milley, his introduction of Brown, his measured anger directed at a senator whom Biden does not name but we know is Tuberville, and a hyperlink for those who wish to read the speech in its entirety. We highly recommend it as being well worth your while.
Excerpts from Remarks by President Biden at the Armed Forces
Farewell Tribute in honor of General Mark A. Milley
Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Now, everyone who has spent time with Mark (Milley) knows three things about him…. One, he’s from Boston. He parks his car in car garages. (Pronounced in a Boston accent.) He likes maps. And he loves the Constitution.
But each of these three things points to something deeper about Mark’s character. His Boston heritage isn’t just about pride of place. It’s pride in what shaped him — the values that have guided his whole life. It’s about the father and mother, both veterans of World War II, who set the example of nobility — of the nobility of serving your country. It’s about knowing that his dad was among those who landed at Iwo Jima. And that if those young men his father served alongside could raise the flag on Mount Suribachi, then there’s nothing, nothing, nothing America cannot accomplish when we work together…. The Boston pride is about knowing where you come from. The maps are about knowing where you are and where you’re going. Mark wants to make sure he has the necessary facts to inform his decisions as a leader and his advice to others. As Commander-in-Chief, I’ve relied on Mark’s counsel because I know he always gives it to me straight no matter what. He always gives it to me straight. He’s working with the best information possible, and he doesn’t hold anything back. During his tenure as Chairman, Mark has been a steady hand, guiding our military as we navigate what, I would argue, is one of the most complex security environments our world has faced in a long time. He’s been critical to strengthening America’s exi- –existing alliances, from NATO to the Indo-Pacific to building the new strategic partnerships like AUKUS; and keeping our force on the cutting-edge of the fields of cyber and space; ending America’s longest war and continuing to take terrorists off the battlefield; standing with the brave people of Ukraine and making sure they have the equipment, the support they need, when they need it, to defend their freedom — letting them know — and letting them know how much he respects them…. When it comes to the Constitution, that is and has always been Mark’s North Star.... He’s made it the central image on his challenge coin, those three little words that mean so much to every American, but especially to those who stand in the service of our nation. The middle of his challenge coin says, “We the People.” “We the People.” It’s a reminder to all of us what makes us a strong nation, who we are as a democracy, and how the United States — for more than two centuries — has always managed to keep moving forward. Not fealty to any one person or to a political party, but to the idea of America — idea unlike any other in human history: the idea that we are all created equal. That is what the Constitution safeguards. That’s what we swear an oath to. And that is why generations of young women and men, Americans of every background and creed, have stepped forward to be part of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. And that’s not hyperbole. You’re the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. (Applause.) I’ve seen you in Afghanistan, Iraq, and — but I don’t want to get started.
And our military is going to keep growing stronger — keep growing stronger with General C.Q. Brown — Charles Q. Brown, Jr., as our 24th [21st] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Congratulations, old buddy. (Applause.) As Mark will tell you, I’ll be meeting a lot with you. (Laughter.) I said when I nominated General Brown as a seasoned warrior with deep combat experience — an experienced commander of the joint force, a top-flight strategist, a leader known throughout the force for his unmatched judgement and unflappable demeanor. Like General Milley, General Brown is a patriot through and through, sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution….
ON THE DISGRACE OF PLAYING POLITICS WITH TROOPS
As Secretary (of Defense Lloyd) Austin noted, I am glad that General Brown was confirmed by the Senate, along with the new Commandant of the Marine Corps and Army Chief of Staff, but — I must be careful here how I say this — but it’s thoroughly, totally unacceptable that more than 300 other highly qualified officers are still in limbo. I’ve been here a long time; I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s outrageous, and it must stop. Their promotions, their careers, their families, their futures held hostage by the political agenda of one senator and the silence of another 47 of them. It’s a drag on our force. It impacts everything from readiness to morale to retention. And it’s an insult — an insult to the officers’ years of dedicated service. Our troops deserve so much better. And if the House fails to fulfill its most basic function, if it fails to fund the government by tomorrow, it will have failed all of our troops. Our service members will keep upholding their oaths, showing up for work, standing sentinel around the world, keeping our country secure — but they won’t get paid. It’s a disgrace. Thousands of Defense Department civilian and — civilian servants will be sent home. And the longer the shutdown lasts, the harder it will be to become — the harder it will become for military families to pay their bills. We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach. It’s an absolute dereliction of duty. As leaders, we must never lose sight of the direct impacts of the decisions we make and the impact they have on the lives and families around the world.
To read Biden’s earlier excellent speech of last week, see “President Biden speaks on the danger of MAGA extremism.”
For more on the dangers of Republican extremism, see "McCarthy