Gary Stein, the ex-Marine who received an Other-Than-Honorable Discharge from the military after posting hostile and insubordinate comments about President Obama on Facebook, got a friendly welcome from Mike Huckabee this weekend to discuss his appeal. Not only was Huckabee sympathetic throughout, as if it were an unfortunate technicality that got Stein ousted, but Huckabee failed to mention some of the aggravating factors that also led to Stein losing his job.
As AP reported (via Huffington Post):
During a hearing, a military prosecutor submitted screen grabs of Stein’s postings on one Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party, which the prosecutor said included the image of Obama on a “Jackass” movie poster. Stein also superimposed Obama’s image on a poster for “The Incredibles” movie that he changed to “The Horribles,” military prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said.
…Tom Umberg, a former Army colonel and military prosecutor, said Stein persisted even after being warned.
“The Marine Corps gave him the opportunity to think about his actions, yet Sgt. Stein continued to undermine the chain of command,” said Umberg, who was not involved in Stein’s case. “I think his purpose was to leave the Marine Corps in a dramatic fashion in order to begin a career in talk radio or what have you.”
But Huckabee helped Stein give the impression that he had gotten the axe for one hot-headed statement that he later regretted. Huckabee never questioned whether any ulterior motives lay behind Stein’s actions.
In his introduction to the interview, Huckabee said, “One of the really great freedoms that we enjoy in the United States is the right to criticize our leaders. But do those liberties extend to the men and women of our armed forces who have committed themselves to protecting our country? Former Marine Sergeant Gary Stein was discharged for being critical of President Obama, saying, he wouldn’t follow orders from the Commander in Chief.”
“Gary, you got in a lot of trouble for speaking your mind,” Huckabee said, as if Stein had been caught in a prank and not deliberately undermined the chain of command he had sworn to serve and uphold.
Huckabee went on to make Stein’s case for him. “Nine years in the Marines and you posted some things, not only on Facebook but in a private chatroom… and you thought that this was just going among a few people. Someone took a screen shot and got you in a little trouble.”
One of Stein’s comments was posted on the screen. It read:
As an Active Duty Marine I say “Screw Obama” and I will not follow all orders from him… Will do my job better than the next guy… But has (sic) for saluting Obama as commander-in-chief… I will not!”
Huckabee allowed as how “that might get you into a little trouble with the Marine Corps.”
Stein agreed his words “were somewhat tasteless” but that he thought they had been made privately.
In other words, he wasn’t really sorry for undermining his Commander, just that it went public.
Not that that seemed to matter to Huckabee. Instead, he probed “what does it mean” to get an other-than-honorable discharge.
“Did you say these things because you really meant them or were they said heatedly? I mean, would you truly not salute the president if he were to walk in the room?” Huckabee prompted, I mean asked. You can guess how Stein answered.
Huckabee had a fatherly tone as he told Stein that when you join the military, “you kind of give up a lot of rights… and obviously, if the military ever became a democracy where people voted on the orders, it would be chaos and utter disaster. So do you understand where the Marine Corps comes from in saying, ‘You know, Gary, it’s one thing to have an opinion, but you just don’t get to express it once you put that uniform on?’”
Stein said he disagrees and that voicing his opinion (or fomenting hatred for the President) did nothing to impact his service to the country. He also said the ACLU is helping him in his case.
Huckabee said he’ll watch the case with great interest.
Think Huckabee will be hosting the Dixie Chicks for the same kind of friendly chat any time soon?