The Back-Having Business, Etc.

President Trump with his national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, in Los Angeles, September 18, 2019 (Tom Brenner / Reuters)

Today on the homepage, I have an Impromptus, which begins with the idea of having a person’s back. It is a very selective business, this back-having. Some backs you have, some backs you don’t.

As you know, President Trump intervened in the cases of three servicemen convicted or accused of war crimes. “Just this week, I stuck up for three great warriors against the Deep State,” he told one of his rallies. As I say in my column, the Deep State must include military juries and the military at large.

On television, the president’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, said, “Ultimately, the president as commander-in-chief has said that he’s got the back of our men and women in uniform.” I think that’s great. But what about the military jurors? What about the Naval leaders who wanted, at a minimum, to pull Edward Gallagher’s Trident (his SEAL pin)?

Does anyone have their backs?

How about the SEALs who stuck their necks out — who risked their careers — to say what they knew about Gallagher? Did you see this? (“Anguish and Anger From the Navy SEALs Who Turned In Edward Gallagher.”) Who has their backs? You get my drift . . .

When writing my column, I had a memory of Robert Bork, which I’d like to share with you here. He had been a Marine Corps lawyer. And I once asked him about the differences between a military trial and a civilian trial. He said, “If I were a defendant and innocent, I would want to be tried in a military court. If I were guilty, I would want to be tried in a civilian court.”

FWIW, as they say in social media.

I would like to publish some mail, though not concerning today’s column. At the beginning of this month, I wrote,

The Tea Party was a stunning, heartening response to the Obama administration’s overspending and general aggrandizement of the federal government. I haven’t heard much from the Tea Party in recent years. Is it still a going concern? The issues are very much live.

A reader writes,

Good morning, Jay:

I was somewhat involved with the Tea Party back in ’09 (less than some, more than most). I recall we were getting some decent press and seemed to at least have the ear of Republicans, at first. Then:

The grifters moved in (some of them “mainstream” Republicans). We started to be called the usual litany: racists, Nazis, etc. The IRS started questioning the tax status of some groups. Republican candidates were happy to seek our votes, but then (in general) made no effort to implement our policies.

At least in my mind, I decided “Who needs this crap?” (Sorry for the semi-foul language.)

What a gent — and “semi-” is right (if that)!

Last month, I had a little post which I titled “Isn’t It Romantic?” A reader had a response, which I published. He noted “the shortest professional review ever given to a movie.” It is by Leonard Maltin, who was writing of Isn’t It Romantic?, the 1948 musical. The review, in toto, reads, “No.”

In response to that, a reader writes,

When I Am a Camera (play by John Van Druten, adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, later the basis for Cabaret) premiered on Broadway, Walter Kerr wrote, “Me no Leica.”

Finally, I would like to share with you one of the most unusual and moving letters I have ever received. Whenever you write about the Uyghurs, the Turkic people who are being hideously persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party, or the Rohingyas, the Indo-Aryan people who are being hideously persecuted by the Burmese dictatorship, you get some pretty rough mail: from people who claim that the victims are dirty Muslim terrorists who had it comin’, etc.

I got a rough letter from a reader — who in due course sent another one, just one sentence long: “I’m embarrassed by my heartless message I sent a few weeks ago.”

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