It seems that the former Clinton Administration cabinet member, Barry McCaffrey, who had a so-so record as drug czar, is annoyed with the actions of President Trump.
In a much-discussed 39-word tweet, McCaffrey, a retired and highly decorated U.S. Army general, has managed to confabulate the president’s cancellation of government subscriptions of hard-copy editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post with the totality of the actions of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
How McCaffrey—not previously noted for his publication of finely tuned and deeply researched geopolitical theses—can somehow equate the two is hyperbolic and, frankly, preposterous.
McCaffrey attempts to compare a successful billionaire capitalist who—as the elected chief executive of the United States—cancels newspaper subscriptions, to the legacy of Benito Mussolini, the failed-school-teacher-turned-progenitor of the filosofia fascista, and 20-year dictator noted for his indiscriminate use of force. Thus McCaffrey’s equation is not only a non-sequitur, it is a non-starter.
The irony of all this is that Barry McCaffrey is the same man who, as commander of the Army’s 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), obliterated the Iraqi Hammurabi Division, allegedly two days after the Iraqis were defeated and heading for home.
In fact, the McCaffrey who now declares the cancellation of newspaper subscriptions on par with Italian fascism, who was reviled for his indiscriminate use of poison gas on Ethiopian troops, is the same man who, when asked by Newsweek about his own apparently indiscriminate use of force in Iraq, replied:
We didn’t go up there looking for a fair fight with these people. The new American way of war is to pulverize the enemy with overwhelming force at the cost of the fewest possible casualties.
Not exactly the kind of milquetoast persona who now is conjuring-up Mussolini by way of newspaper cancellations.
If Mussolini shares a style with anyone, consider McCaffrey. It was Barry McCaffrey who, while he was spending $25 million of taxpayer money on overt anti-drug commercials, also was financing apparently not-so-overt, if not downright secret, payments to TV producers for embedded anti-drug messages in programs such as “ER,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “7th Heaven” and “Smart Guy.”
Not that anyone would ever consider that Barry McCaffrey would even remotely condone the Mussolini-style shadowy manipulation of the film industry as the covert arm of government propaganda. After all, had it not been for Mussolini, famous directors such as Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti, and Roberto Rossellini never would have gotten started.
And then there is the same Barry McCaffrey who got clobbered by . . . the New York Times for multiple conflicts of interest in being a retired general officer, a television pundit, and a defense contractor all at the same time.
Oddly, his contemporaneous comments about the Gray Lady in a letter to then-U.S. Representative Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) sound exactly like those of the current president:
“The recent New York Times attack . . . was badly sourced and a disservice to objective journalism.” He went on, “Too bad the great newspaper which I have read faithfully since I was a 17 year old cadet at West Point has developed a reflexive bias against the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Given the intensity of McCaffrey’s stark comments, one might suppose that the good general might have been perturbed enough with the New York Times to revise his faithful reading to his fateful cancellation.