Only Washington could create a sleazy charlatan like Robert M. Gates and pass him off as some bipartisan example of competence and honor.
With his memoir out justifiably sliming President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Gates makes like a greasy, mange-patched rat scrambling atop the floating debris of a sunken ship.
"I never doubted Obama's support for the troops," Mr. Gates grandly writes, posturing himself as the magnanimous centrist who passes for nobility only in Washington.
"Never doubted Obama's support for the troops, only his support for their mission."
Holy cripes! How did this get past an editor? Does the guy not have any friends to glance over his book to tell him what a treacherous wretch he is for even thinking such stupidity, let alone memorializing it forever in a hardcover book about himself that he modestly titled "Duty?"
I will tell you what duty is. Duty is getting out of high school and signing up for the Marines because you love your country. Duty is the unquestioned following of your orders and deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan on a mission to make America safer. Duty is talking with your wife and young, growing family on Skype and keeping upbeat even though you will go on a mission tomorrow morning that very likely will get both of your legs and your right arm blown off.
Duty is being that wife who sheds not a tear in front of her children but bawls through her prayers to God that night alone in bed to keep the father of her children safe for one more day. Duty is the mother who bravely accepts the folded flag from her teenage son's casket in a frozen graveyard. Duty is the father who searches around his intolerable grief to grasp the pride he has for his only son who gave every last measure on a battlefield far, far away.
So tell us, Mr. Gates, how is it possible for a commander in chief to support the troops but not their mission?
Does he do this by keeping the troops in harm's way to die for a cause he does not believe is worthy? Does he support the troops by sending over even more to die for this unworthy cause?
I don't like speaking for other people, especially people who have wept, bled and died for my freedom, but I am pretty sure the troops and their families don't much care for that kind of "support."
You, like your commander in chief, have a seriously warped notion of what support means. Not to mention duty.
Support would be to never send soldiers to die for a mission not worth dying for. As secretary of defense and president of the United States, that would be your responsibility to determine. Or "duty," if you like. If they are dying for something you honestly believe the commander in chief does not believe in, then you have a duty to quit and make known your grave concerns about such treasonous leadership.
Mr. Gates also reveals Washington's worst-kept secret of the past four decades: Mr. Biden has been wrong about every major foreign policy issue of his time. Such ineptitude would get anybody fired from Macy's shoe department. But in Washington, it makes Mr. Biden the reigning expert on foreign affairs and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years.
Mr. Gates also smears Mrs. Clinton by relaying a conversation she had with Mr. Obama in which both of them acknowledged that they opposed sending reinforcement troops to Iraq when the fighting grew particularly nasty because they were afraid support might hurt their political careers.
Still, Mr. Gates declares that Mrs. Clinton would make a fine president. And, in an effort to be "even-handed," says so would Mr. Biden.
Dear God, save America!
• Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com and @charleshurt on Twitter.