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Cheers?

June 29, 2015
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In the early 80s, the US invaded the tiny Caribbean nation of Grenada.  The mission was to rescue some American students at a medical school on the island. The backdrop, however, was the Cold War. The Cubans were said to have influence in Grenada, and, by extension, the Soviet Union was said to be involved. President Reagan, taking over for the hapless Jimmy Carter, was going to show American toughness.

The actual military operation was almost comedic. SEAL and Ranger teams led the invasion of the island country, which was known mainly for the production of nutmeg.  US forces went against poorly-trained squads that gave up without firing. Those Grenadians that did fire back and those wearing Cuban military surplus uniforms were “dispatched.”

It was over quickly and in the days that followed there was a lot of celebration back home.  One would have thought the Port Salines beachhead on the east end of the island was Normandy.

Later, Mario Cuomo was one of the very few to be given pause by the whole episode. He said: “We went down there with the greatest military machine in history and we beat up 22 guys in sneakers. And President Reagan is now a hero?”

Dead Grenadian soldiers, a lot more than 22, were lined up in a parking lot in St. George’s, and they were, indeed, wearing sneakers and shorts. Some highly-trained, hard-charging US troops looked down at them and said: “What the fuck did we just do?”

We loved Mario for his remark.  And today, channeling Mario, we have to ask this question:

Is the State Police sergeant who “took down” David Sweat really a hero?

According to the Governor, the sergeant “can go home and tell his daughters that he’s a hero… but knowing teenage daughters, as I do, the credit will last for maybe 24 hours.”

Digression on a digression: Why, lately, is everything about Andrew? Why must it always be brought back to some personal angst he’s feeling?

Back to the sergeant: He shot an unarmed man in the back as he was running away.  Of course, almost definitely he had to shoot Sweat because he wasn’t going to stop running and he couldn’t just let him get away and maybe do something violent later on.

Yeah, the sergeant was doing is job. But is he what Cuomo said?  “A hero who demonstrated remarkable bravery under harrowing circumstances.”

Or how about the border patrol agent who capped Matt? Three head shots from less than 20 yards away. OK, so he didn’t drop the old shotgun he was carrying. Gotta do it, right? Never know what might happen next. And yet, Matt was also said be “dead drunk,”which, maybe, just maybe, might explain him being “not responsive.” Ya think?

But, hey, we got ‘em. Got ‘em both. And, hooray, right? High fives all around.  Like both tabs headlines this morning: “Blood, Sweat and Cheers!”

Cheers?

Forgive us for being Mario-esque, but we don’t think this is the moment for cheers, celebration or exultation in any way.

We feel only sadness. Why?

This concludes a period in which the state corrections system has been embarrassed nationally. We have two scapegoats in Mitchell and Palmer, but we all know that there’s a lot more to it, right? Funding is at issue. The age of the facility is at issue. And one should better hope that giving killers such privileges as they enjoyed will be an issue.

This concludes a period in which the State Police search capabilities have been revealed to be something less than outstanding. Yes, they were working hard in the cold and the rain. Yes, it might have been a dangerous situation with hunting cabins indeed loaded with scores of weapons and ammo. But that said, there was a clueless, bumbling quality to the search, no? And — this is really terrible of us — whatever happened to State Police fitness standards? Almost every trooper we saw on TV in recent days was morbidly obese.

This concludes a period in which the chief executive’s conduct was bizarre, at best. Will the State IG question corrections officials and the state police on whether they thought it was a good idea for the governor to reenact the breakout and then appear on countless national TV shows to give out detailed information on what’s happening? Will the IG ask this simple question: Did that PR stunt aide or set back the investigation in the first 48 hours?

As we say this, we do feel a pang. We’ve been very snarky in this post. We’re doing that Monday morning quarterback thing.

Surely, nobody meant for any of this to happen. And once it did, everybody was probably doing what they thought was right.

We believe that. We do. It’s just that we also believe that a celebration isn’t in order.  No way.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 29, 2015 12:00 PM

    Cuomo on Arbetter: “The State Police have never done it better. Ever. This wasn’t the Bucky Phillips.”

    And: “State government is working better than ever.”

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 29, 2015 12:12 PM

    Soon to be a made-for-TV movie. Who’ll play the cloying, bumbling chief exec?

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