Hackworth: A Reliable Source?

MSNBC interviewed Ret. Col. David Hackworth today in a story about infidelity in the armed forces. Speaking about Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, the joint chiefs of staff candidate who has admitted to an adulterous affair from more than a decade ago, Hackworth offered this fiery judgment:

“He has got to uphold the highest standard: Fidelity, trust, confidence … the guy is tarnished, the guy is flawed, the guy should step down.”

It’s odd that MSNBC (SLATE’s corporate cousin) chose to tap Hack for the interview, seeing as his credibility was shattered last month when several U.S. Army Ranger organizations accused him of wearing decorations that he was not entitled to. Hackworth, you recall, denounced Adm. Jeremy Boorda last year for wearing unauthorized decorations. (Boorda later committed suicide.)

But perhaps MSNBC chose Hackworth because he’s too much the expert on the subject of fidelity, trust, and confidence. According to an Aug. 26, 1971, Inspector General’s report, Hack permitted a woman–not his wife–to live with him in his quarters in Vietnam for two weeks. Hack was married at the time. (See SLATE’s Newsweek’s Major Embarrassment: He’s called Col. Hackworth.”)

Having inserted one foot into his mouth, Hackworth proceeds to shove the second one in with this comment:

“We’ve got to have trust. We can’t have people violating their vows. A wedding vow is just as sacred as the oath one takes to his office. If you can betray the wedding vow, why not break the oath of office? Not defend your country as you’re sworn to do?”