After just granting a waiver to allow Trump to subvert the law, Biden is requesting the same grace, asking America to ignore not only the law, but the very reason for the law to exist.
By David Todd McCarty | Thursday, December 10, 2020
The issue of granting a waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to become the Defense Secretary under Biden, and the first Black man to hold the job if confirmed, has nothing to do with he color of his skin or his qualifications as a military officer and also everything to do with the color of his skin and his qualifications as a military officer.
The law states that a soldier must be retired a minimum of seven years (not exactly an unreasonable amount of time) before taking over a civilian leadership role overseeing the military, is there for a reason. The waiver is meant to be used in emergency situations, not as a standard procedure, otherwise, it’s no longer a waiver, but standard operating procedure.
So why is it important for American democracy to maintain civilian leadership of a non-political military? It should be obvious, but it’s because we don’t want to be a ruled by a military junta, or risk allowing a partisan actor, such as an unhinged and unqualified President to influence a member of his cabinet, with close personal ties to military leaders, to use the armed forces to take control of the country in the military coup.
If you think that’s unrealistic, President Trump’s own disgraced, former National Security Advisor and recently pardoned felon Michael Flynn, suggested Trump do just that only a week ago, in a tweet.
For Joe Biden to cross that line again so soon (they gave Gen Mattis a waiver for Trump) just because he wants to placate the Congressional Black Caucus who isn’t pleased with how few Black executives Biden has chosen for his cabinet, sets a horrible precedent for a new President, especially one claiming his desire to return to norms.
By all accounts, Gen Austin is a qualified candidate, but we are already basing his qualifications based on his military record, which is the problem. We have to ask ourselves, who do we want in that position? Someone who is going to look out for the country, or for the military?
It’s not about Gen Austin. It’s about who runs a country with the most powerful military in the world. Not just during this administration, but the next one, and the one after that.
We have to stop trusting that the people we elect will do the right thing, regardless of the law, since we just experienced four years with a President who ignored every precedent and norm imaginable, and violated dozens of law on a daily basis.
If Biden wants to be the guy that restores faith in American democracy, he can’t begin by asking that he not be asked to follow the rules. There is not an extraordinary need to subvert this law. He just wants to. That should not be a good enough reason. The fact that Biden wrote an OpEd in The Atlantic should tell you that he knows he’s wrong and he’s trying to get the blessing of the intellectual class by playing the race card.
That Gen Austin might very well be the best person for the job is betrayed by the fact that he can’t legally take the job, not without the extraordinary measure of getting both houses of Congress to agree to let him slide.
This is not what we need right now.