Ricky Gervais a few years back hosted the Golden Globes Awards and he joked to the audience about the uselessness of awards “Remember if you do win tonight, no one cares about that award as much as you do. Don’t get emotional, it’s embarrassing. That award is, no offense, worthless. It’s a bit of metal some nice old confused journalists wanted to give you in person so they could meet you and have a selfie with you, okay? That’s all it is!” Ricky Gervais had won three of these awards for his past performances and yet he thought so little of the award that they were used as doorstops in his house.
The joke is funny because it is true. Because over time, the majority of awards and titles mean nothing to the general public. They only matter to the people who receive them.
Which leads me to President Obama and Vice President Biden who awarded themselves service medals during the last few weeks in office. President Obama awarded himself the Distinguished Public Service Medal for his own appreciation as his time as Commander in Chief while Vice President Biden won the Medal of Freedom award, the nations highest civilian award.
Many pundits were incredulous at the awards. And on many of the comment feeds on the articles have likened the awards to a much maligned “participation medal” and many others were even more skeptical of Obama giving himself a medal.
In Latin America the practice of the government awarding themselves participation medals is quite common. It is not uncommon to see a general in uniform stacked with medals and ribbons This is especially bizarre given none of them have seen any combat in generations. So self deluded with power and aggrandizement they award themselves medals to let people know how important they are.
Not all medals and awards are useless. Take a look at any serviceman who won the Medal Of Honor and you will get a glimpse if what real heroism looks like. I know many combat veterans here in the U.S who were actively engaged in combat operations and by ways of medals, have very little to show for it. The point being these awards were meant to really mean something.
For example in Mel Gibson’s latest movie Hacksaw Ridge about a Navy Medic, Desmond Doss, the movie depicts the heroism of Desmond as he saved countless lives on the battlefield. For his actions, he won the Medal Of Honor and I can guarantee you that every man in his unit will be forever thankful and indebted to Desmond for his actions and truly honored for him to win such an award.
Contrast this to President Obama winning his award for being an excellent Commander and Chief, the whole sordid notion reeks of desperation. Military awards are always given by their superiors to their junior leaders to recognize their efforts. Being that he is the most senior military leader, he nominated, recommended and awarded himself the award. President Obama winning that award is comparable to a mid level employee at Apple giving an award to Steve Jobs for his leadership abilities. That is how pathetic this whole thing is. In the military a junior officer can never recommend or award his superior an award, it is not the protocol and it is not conducive to good leadership.
The whole ceremony reminded me of the the famous line from Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” from Hamlet. The saying has been used as a figure of speech to describe someone’s overly frequent and vehement attempts to convince others of some matter of which the opposite is true, thereby making themselves appear defensive and insincere.
These two must know how desperate this whole scenario reeks of so they award themselves medals to hide their incompetence.Since no one else will give them the credit they so rightly deserve, they award it to themselves. They really really want to let people how good, heroic and noble they were. And yet we have Benghazi.
During an attack on a U.S embassy in Libya, the president and his staff would not support Americans actively engaged in combat during the firefight where Ambassador Stevens was killed as well as four other Americans.The participants on the ground repeatedly called for help and even though there were Marines ready to go in, they were denied. We as a country had no problem putting Americans lives in harms way, and yet the Obama administration would not protect them when called.
With the Benghazi story as the backdrop of how not to behave in combat, during the invasion of Iraq, I remember reading a story about a Marine General who was relived of his duties during the attack quite simply because his units were moving too slowly causing other units in the attack unnecessary risk. I called my former Company Commander to see if he knew the story and if he could add clarity to the article. My former Company Commander said it was a highly unusual move for a commander to be relived of duty during combat operations as the General’s honor would forever be destroyed. He said “Most marine commanders would rather commit suicide than to face the eternal shame of failing in combat.”
His comments did not shock me as they rang true.For many not acquainted with military culture, this is exactly how mature military leaders think, and yet when President Obama had the chance to help fellow Americans in combat, he reportedly slept through the night.
Add this to his recent pardon of Bradley Manning who Obama commuted the sentence of a solider who went into a war zone, stole tons of classified files, and gave them to WikiLeaks. Manning released hundreds of thousands of secret documents relating to national security, during a time of war, with no regard to how it would undermine our war efforts and put lives at risk. In any other time, Bradley Manning would have been shot for treason.
The whole thing is so outrageous that words don’t do it justice. The pardon of Manning along side his own award for leadership stand as juxtaposition of a man gone mad. A truly despicable finale to his presidency.