Poor Chuck Hagel. One claim he had going for him in support of his nomination to be the next Secretary of Defense was that he would be the first enlisted man to hold that position. It would be an historic nomination, brought forward by an historic president.
Turns out that was just another bogus claim broadcast by Team Obama - the people who want you to believe that everything President Obama does is an historic move.
As usual, the watchdog American media didn't bother to either fact check or correct the claim. One former Secretary of State, Republican Melvin Laird, now 90 years old admits he was a bit taken aback that the claim has been so freely promoted without correction.
It has been widely reported since Chuck Hagel's nomination as defense secretary that he'd be the first former enlisted man to serve in that office.
But that overlooks several former Pentagon chiefs, including Wisconsin's own Mel Laird, now 90, who served as defense secretary under Richard Nixon in the latter years of the Vietnam War.
Laird enlisted in the Navy during Word War II, eventually becoming an officer and seeing combat on a destroyer in the Pacific.
"It doesn't bother me," Laird said in an interview Monday, though he expressed surprise the record hadn't been set straight before now.
This Associated Press report cites three other former defense secretaries who spent part of their military service in the enlisted ranks.
"Several" former defense secretaries, according to this article. Imagine that.
Naturally the White House tried to put out an explanation for the characterization of Hagel's nomination, since the president called him "the first person of enlisted rank" :
A White House spokesman said Tuesday that formulation was intended to refer to Hagel's highest rank in the military -- meaning Hagel would be the first defense secretary who served only in the enlisted ranks.
But whatever the intended meaning, this particular factoid about Hagel has been restated in language that is clearly wrong.
Laird, by the way, wasn't very impressed with Hagel's hearing.
Laird said he watched the Hagel hearing on television, and thought Hagel "wasn't prepared as well as he should have been." Laird also said he thought the hearing was so dominated by foreign policy that issues specific to the Pentagon and military were given short shrift.This information was on the Pentagon's own website. Team Obama is sloppy in their research. Or they just deliberately fib to make the story more compelling. Either way, the American people deserve a more efficient, honest White House.