In Army slang, I am a ground-pounder. My personal background in the military includes time in the Infantry, both straight-leg and airborne. I am a firm believer in the value of boots on the ground. I’ve said before, wars were never won by an Army with clean boots.
I don’t care how many politicians believe that they can direct the military into a so-called clean war that involves nothing but over-the-horizon capability, long-distance strikes, and GPS guided munitions; a true fight, one that is meant to be won against an enemy that intends to do you harm if left unchecked, will never be fully and effectively concluded without the enduring value of boots on the ground by average Joes and Janes who are able to see and be seen on the battlefield.
With that said, I will also tell you that every ground-pounder loves the sound of overhead cover! There is nothing sweeter than knowing that there are eyes on target from somewhere high above ready to bring the rain if the guys on the ground get into it.
I will never forget being out on a three-day patrol through the backside of nowhere in Afghanistan, setting up our lager site and knowing that our Air Force Tactical Air Control guy had coordinated our overhead cover and had confirmed our position. In Baghdad it was different, but still the same - nothing compares to going door-to-door in a cordon and search while having the added security ... the outright gravitas … of Apache Gunships flying figure 8’s over your head at rooftop level.
Sometimes you walk taller just knowing that Ghostrider 6, or Nightstalker 27, is above you just waiting for someone to dare to take a shot.
What air cover gives to the average dude in the boots is that sense of security that not only is the overhead cover in place but that no one can mess with you without paying a big price.
Let me shift gears here and make a point. In politics, a friendly press is like air cover. You heard me: if the press supports the politician or at least supports the agenda it is the same to a politician as combat air support is to a soldier in the field.
I can name you two politicians in our own sphere who have had the benefit of air cover, and now they’re losing it: Joe Biden and Kay Ivey.
Think about it. For two years, one of which has been in the Presidency, Joe Biden could do no wrong. If he had said that the sky was green and babies are evil, the mainstream media would have lauded his praises and extolled his wisdom and preached the new halcyon era of green skies and mean babies.
A complete pass on Afghanistan - a bye on lack of COVID response - ignoring the mess in our economy and the 40-year inflation - the supply chain madness and supporting his inability to abide by the constitution on vaccine mandates. President Biden has been given all the air cover that any politician could ever want … until now!
Just this past week, it appears that the overhead cover provided by the media has returned to base to refuel and perhaps pick up a new mission.
For example: Newsweek, which is not necessarily known for its staunch conservatism, just ran an opinion piece titled: “Woke and Weak: Biden Punishes Americans, Emboldens Adversaries.” I doubt whether it would have seen the light of day in a mainstream publication just a month ago.
It is a stark removal from the norm for Joe Biden who has been given a pass at every turn. Now he is watching in horror as his air cover is departing the area of operations and he is danger close to full exposure.
Okay, I’m a conservative and I host a conservative radio show. But that does not mean I won’t call balls and strikes like I see them. The other top-of-the-ticket politician that we can all identify with who has gotten a pass is our own Republican Governor Kay Ivey. (Oh my! A collective sharp intake of breath!) It’s true. Governor Ivey has had air cover on a number of policy issues, but that is finally changing. And too often that air cover has been tied to what was not reported as much as what was.
When she first took office, Ivey could do no wrong. All she had to do was say, “I’m not Robert Bentley and I’m going to right the ship of state.” I’d say for the first couple of years she did just that with the willing help of a legislature of which I was a part as a senior Republican Senator. But then changes occurred.
The Ivey administration saw fit to coordinate the ramming through of a gas tax that is still climbing and hitting folks even harder. That gas tax came about with zero reforms or attempts to offset the impacts to the folks at the pump.
During her tenure, Alabama’s education rankings dropped to last in the nation while she is the de facto head of the State School Board. But rather than press for school choice options, she has been lauded by a liberal press that loves it when she throws more money at the problem.
Then COVID happened and, without blinking an eye, she became the maven of big government and spent virtually all of Alabama’s COVID relief funds to grow government while also deciding on her own that certain Alabama businesses had to shut down while others were allowed to stay open. Many of those businesses have never recovered and all the while she got a complete pass. It was more big government so the Alabama media loved it.
For the longest time, the press said “yay,” or just ignored the ramifications to the general public. Republicans who didn’t know any better rocked along until suddenly the world of COVID restrictions and federal overreach began to get worse and her office did nothing … absolutely nothing.
The air cover for Governor Ivey has dissipated and now she’s got a press that is far more gamey. In all of her popularity, it is also notable that she’s drawn multiple high-profile challengers in the primary race for Governor, a number of her key staff have left, and her polling just turned very lukewarm. It is the essence of the loss of political air cover.
It’s really called accountability. The press needs to be fair, open, and capable of providing accurate reflections of current events. There are good folks in DC and Montgomery and when they are right the world should know it; when they are wrong that should be given equal distribution.
But all public officials need to know that air cover only lasts so long until it hits bingo fuel and has to return to base and then … there you are, out there by yourself, no air cover - like Joe Biden and Kay Ivey.
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 p.m. on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement go to www.rightsideradio.org The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.