Contrary to a prior prediction that Michael Weinstein would seethe at the thought of LtGen Robert Caslen taking the helm as Superintendent of West Point, it seems Weinstein has chosen to do the complete opposite:
I am pleased to announce that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully endorses the United States Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nomination of Lt. General Robert Caslen to the position of Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
If only it were that simple. The “endorsement” (cross-posted) is a veritable portrait in self-contradiction and capriciousness. Weinstein says he is “pleased,” but later says he has “non-trivial trepidation” — yet also “wishes him well.” Demonstrating both his repetitive redundancy and intellectual inconsistency, Weinstein says he has no idea what Caslen will “actually do,” but “he incontrovertibly deserves and merits [sic] the chance to do it.”
During Gen Caslen’s involvement in the Christian Embassy controversy in 2006, Weinstein said those involved in the scandal were equivalent to al Qaida, Iraqi militant Muqtada al Sadr, and deserved to be court-martialed. Two years later, Weinstein essentially accused Gen Caslen of fomenting insurrection at the hands of a Christian army, and said the Army was promoting “fundamentalist Christianity” by promoting Gen Caslen.
Now, a little less than 5 years later, Weinstein has decided not merely to be indifferent to Gen Caslen’s nomination, but to support it.
What could possibly change his mind so far and so fast? Weinstein explains:
Shortly after the announcement of Caslen’s nomination, I began reaching out to MRFF clients and supporters who have been working closely with Lt. Gen. Caslen in the “post-Christian Embassy” era and especially during his current deployment…His current service, including but not limited to constantly mediating the perpetual powder keg of relations between the Kurds and the central Iraqi government, is viewed universally as absolutely exemplary.
So while 30 years of exemplary service wasn’t good enough in 2006, Weinstein is now satisfied by one – from the reassurances of a few of his allies about how Gen Caslen is performing his duties in Iraq. Note Weinstein says nothing about his prior complaints about Gen Caslen and his religious beliefs in his turnabout. It seems the only thing you need to get on Weinstein’s good side is a couple of “he’s good peeps” from his friends.
So much for principle or intellectual consistency.
Notably, within Weinstein’s 1,800-word “endorsement” he nowhere mentions his prior characterizations of Gen Caslen or his demands for court-martial. The obvious omission is that, in the extremely unlikely event Weinstein had actually gotten his way, Gen Caslen would almost surely have never survived to become the Superintendent of West Point — an appointment Weinstein now endorses.
In other words, Weinstein’s thesaurus-rich monologue is a thickly-veiled admission that he was wrong.
That was probably unintentional, however, and it is unlikely Weinstein will soon refrain from his all-too-common demand that members of the military be court-martialed for, well, just about anything. In this case, Weinstein is probably simply being a realist: He knows Gen Caslen’s confirmation is essentially a given (Weinstein calls it “likely”), so rather than tilting against that particular windmill, he’s tried instead to define the rules of the game. To wit, he set up fictional goal posts for Gen Caslen to meet, riffing off the recent publicity stunt-resignation of an MRFF “client.”
Weinstein has already prepared the field for Gen Caslen, so he can claim Gen Caslen either failed or surrendered to Weinstein’s indomitable influence over the US military. It’s win-win for Weinstein, which is how he likes it.
Ultimately, just as he did at USAFA, Weinstein needs to build the bridge before he burns it. As he did with Gen Gould, Weinstein will likely try to ingratiate himself to Gen Caslen. Then, if his manners haven’t improved, Weinstein will wear out his welcome and show up in the press demanding Gen Caslen’s court-martial, all over again.