The slow-learning retired admiral with a Ph.D.

Published on Intrepid Report, by Walter Brasch, May 2, 2016.

… The reason Joe Sestak is a slow learner is because he hasn’t learned to accept the floating rules of the political machine. He believes people in power should be able to justify their decisions, and he has a healthy attitude that dictates he should question authority when necessary. As a three-star flag officer, he listened to his staff and supported the thousands of enlisted personnel under his command, but he challenged those entombed within their own tunnel vision.  

Adm. Mike Mullen, the new chief of naval operations (CNO), with deep allegiance to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush, didn’t like his deputy chief suggesting that it was possible to tighten the budget without affecting naval efficiency and preparedness.

Adm. Vern Clark, the previous CNO, explained why Sestak was quickly reassigned: “[He] challenged people who did not want to be challenged. The guy is courageous, a patriot’s patriot.”

When Sestak’s daughter developed a brain tumor, he retired from the Navy to help care for her—and to fight for better health care for all people, not just those privileged to have as good a health plan as he did.

When Sestak first decided to run for Congress in 2006, hoping to give better representation than the 10-term incumbent Republican to a Philadelphia suburban district, the Democratic party establishment said he needed the approval of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a group he didn’t even know existed. Rahn Emmanuel, the head of the DCCC, who would become Barack Obama’s chief of staff, explained that the retired vice-admiral with a Ph.D. wasn’t ready for such a run, and that he had no chance to win in a heavily conservative suburban district. Sestak didn’t listen, infuriated the establishment, and won the election with a 56 percent majority against an incumbent. Two years later, he won re-election with 59.6 percent of the vote … //

… The establishment put its support and its money behind McGinty, and the Sestak campaign began to falter in the last three months of the race, unable to compete against a candidate endorsed by Tom Wolfe, the state’s popular new governor; Rendell, the former governor who now represented oil and gas companies; numerous Democratic politicians; Vice-President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, pushing hard for a McGinty victory, spent $1.1 million for TV ads, most of it in the two weeks leading up to the election, April 26. By the election, McGinty, in her eight-month campaign, had received more than $4 million in campaign contributions, about $1 million more than Sestak’s two year campaign receipts.

McGinty, who had trailed Sestak most of the campaign, won the primary, defeating not just Sestak but also Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman, a liberal and community activist who, like Sestak, was unafraid to speak out for social justice and protection of the environment.

McGinty, who will receive massive financial and st support from the Democratic National Committee, may not be able to defeat Toomey in the general election. However, one reality emerged from this primary race: Joe Sestak, the retired admiral with a Ph.D. and a strong social conscience, is a slow learner. Once again, he didn’t do what the political machine said he should do and, once again, he lost.

Maybe, it’s time for more politicians to be “slow learners” and not bow to the dictates of a machine greased by money from special interests.

(full text).

(Dr. Walter M. Brasch is an award-winning journalist, multi-media writer-producer, and professor emeritus of mass communications from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. His latest book is Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit, ed. Jan 19, 2016).


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