Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A tale of two Texas politicos with ties to 9/11

"A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor."
Proverbs 29:23

Obviously, the anniversary of 9/11 was last week.  On this year's anniversary we realized something we've been meaning to discuss.  We want to commit this to writing before more time passes.

Senator Brian Birdwell and Chancellor Bill McRaven are both veterans.  During their military service, both were involved in incidents with direct ties to the 9/11 attacks.  But the contrast between how each discusses those experiences is striking.

On September 11, 2001, Brian Birdwell was stationed at the Pentagon.  Not only was he stationed at the Pentagon, but he was stationed in the section of the Pentagon where the plane struck.  The only reason he survived was because he had left his office to go to the bathroom.

Birdwell was burned on over 60% of his body and a plurality of those burns were third degree.  His full recovery took several years.  Nevertheless, he persisted to a full recovery before retiring from the military.

In 2010, Birdwell won a special election to the Texas Senate.  Since then, he's served as a faithful conservative in that body.  During that time, he's focused on the issues in front of him rather than looking backwards.

While Birdwell doesn't hide from his 9/11 experience, he rarely discusses it unless he's asked.  We've never heard him discuss it in a political context except when it's directly relevant to the issue at hand.  Indeed, this author didn't realize the Brian Birdwell from 9/11 and the Brian Birdwell in the Texas Senate were the same person until a couple years ago.

Bill McRaven, by contrast, was appointed by Obama to head special forces.  As such, he was involved with the raid that killed Usama bin Laden.  While McRaven likes to present himself as a crucial participant in that mission, numerous special forces sources (at least five) have told this author that McRaven was a bit player who has embellished his role to advance his career.

[Note: Direct quote from a Navy SEAL with whom we spoke approximately two years ago, "McRaven's story of his role in the bin Laden raid is the biggest horse shit political fairy tale I've ever heard in my life."]

Three months after the bin Laden raid, SEAL Team 6 was shot down while performing a mission in Afghanistan.  This tragedy highlighted many shortcomings of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and was thus politically embarrassing to the Obama administration.  To avoid said political embarrassment, Bill McRaven ran point on the Obama administration's cover-up.

Furthermore, Birdwell only brings up his 9/11 experience when he's asked or it's directly relevant to the situation.  McRaven, on the other hand, never shuts up about having once been in the military.  It's become a running joke at the Capitol and among UT Board watchers that you could turn McRaven's incessant references to his former military employment into a drinking game.

Bottom Line: It's a very revealing contrast.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.