In a rather telling exchange between Lt. Col. Vindman and Rep. Nunes at Congress’ impeachment hearings yesterday, the former told the latter to call him by his military title, rather than by the blander “Mister”:
“Mr. Vindman, you testified in your deposition that you did not know the whistleblower,” Nunes said. Instead of responding to that statement, Vindman interrupted Nunes to talk about something else altogether. “Ranking member, that’s Lt. Col. Vindman please.” Rep. Nunes was not interested in a debate about this matter, so he quickly rephrased his question. Done.
A little while later, Rep. Chris Stewart (also a Republican member of the Intelligence Committee) observed to Vindman: “Lt. Col. Vindman, I see you’re wearing your dress uniform. Knowing that’s not the uniform of the day and you normally wear a suit to the White House, I think that’s a great reminder of your military service.” Rep. Stewart went on to say that he too comes from a military family. “As one military family to another, thank you and your brothers for your service.”
But, he went on to say, he was wondering about something. “I’m curious. When ranking member Nunes referred to you as ‘Mr. Vindman,’ you quickly corrected him and wanted to be called Lt. Col. Vindman. Do you always insist on civilians calling you by your rank?”
It’s a fair question. After all, Rep. Nunes isn’t in the military. As such, he is under no obligation to refer to Vindman by his military rank. If anything, in a constitutional republic like the United States, a democratically-elected representative of the people ranks well above a member of the military. In this system, sovereignty lies with the people.
“Mr. Stewart,” Vindman answered—at which point he quickly corrected himself. After all, he just called out Rep. Nunes for calling him “mister.” “Representative Stewart, I am in uniform, wearing my military rank. I just thought it was appropriate to stick with that.”
After this, Rep. Stewart went on to explain that Rep. Nunes didn’t mean any disrespect. Vindman answered that he believed that to be true, but he emphasizes his military rank because “the attacks I’ve had in the press” and on Twitter have supposedly minimalized him as a military officer. Or something.
OK, let me just say what nobody else is apparently willing to say (although we all think it): Vindman basically admits that he’s wearing his uniform in order to gain some credibility. I’m sure that the Democrats who are using him as a pawn to overthrow a democratically elected president were very happy with that. But the rest of us see this for what it is: a theater show.
Vindman didn’t wear his uniform when he went to work at the White House. He didn’t come to the hearing as some kind of official spokesman for the military. He went there because of the role he played in the White House, when he was not wearing his uniform. He didn’t have to wear it yesterday, and he sure as heck didn’t have to call out Rep. Nunes for not calling him by his rank.