Should Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin resign for failing to tell everyone from the President to his second-in-command that he had been hospitalized until days later? Former U.S. Congressman and Air Force B-1 pilot Chris Stewart joins Glenn to make the case that he should. Austin, as a retired general, should know how unacceptable it is to just NOT show up for work, Stewart argues — especially while the United States is shooting down Iran-associated missiles left and right in the Middle East. Stewart gives his thoughts on who's actually calling the shots at the Pentagon and also explains why he believes Austin "should have resigned 2 years ago."
Below is a rush transcript that may contain errors
GLENN: So, Chris, I immediately thought of you when I read this over the weekend. Because, you know, he -- you know a lot about how the Pentagon works.
And, you know, how -- how the military works. And I haven't seen a Secretary of Defense kind of go missing for a week. And nobody really noticed. Have you?
CAROL: Well, let's just say it's unusual.
But who is surprised about this, Glenn? You talk about the judgment. I would add in addition to this, to displace poor judgment, the arrogance that this Secretary has demonstrated again and again. But it's perfectly on brand for his leadership. And the Biden administration.
And one thing I would emphasize. And I think some of your listeners may understand.
But not all of them.
And that is the culture and the expectations of the military.
They're different than it is in the civilian world. You give military members tremendous trust, because you give them a tremendous power.
But that demands certain behavior. And one of those is that you just don't show up at work.
You know, without telling something. Without telling the people who are going to cover for you. Without telling your boss.
If a young sergeant, or a young lieutenant did that, they would be facing severe repercussions.
And yet, he didn't show up. He didn't tell the assistant secretary. Who everyone knows. Was vacationing in Puerto Rico. He didn't even know.
And worse, he didn't even tell his boss.
I don't know. Maybe he told Biden. And President Biden forgot.
Because that was impossible as well.
It's just so outside the norms of what you would expect, or any responsible person. Let alone, for heaven's sake, the Secretary of Defense.
GLENN: Well, did -- you're generally -- you know, shooting down like their clay pigeons. Missiles.
From, you know, the -- the Houthis. And the Iran proxies.
I mean, our ships are kind of busy right now.
Is there no -- in a week, is there no thought that maybe somebody might call in, and say, hey. What should we do?
CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah.
So not only the ongoing, you know, skirmishes we're having with the Houthis, which is a whole 'nother conversation by the way.
But, you know, there's also the efforts that we have in the war on Gaza.
That they're coordinating with the Israel Defense ministers on those efforts.
What about the fact that we had a strike into Baghdad, during this week?
On January 4th. Who coordinated that?
I mean, that's the kind of thing, if you're going to strike in Baghdad. My understanding was, the secretary of defense, would be the final arbiter for that division.
And at a minimum, would have been informed on it.
And apparently, that didn't happen.
These are the kinds of things that you have to have leadership from inside the Pentagon.
And it turns out, that just simply wasn't happening. And, by the way, Glenn. If you will allow me. That's not the first time.
I've said the secretary should resign, immediately after the debacle in Afghanistan.
And, again, after the kind of -- the fact that we have not met our recruiting goals. All of these things fall on his shoulder. He should have resigned two years ago.
GLENN: So who actually running things, Chris?
CHRIS: You know, people ask that question all the time. Both about the White House. And in some cases about the pentagon.
Well, I think absent, or aside from his absence, this past week, that, you know, this general is running things.
I've seen it reflected in the decisions he makes. Or the lack of decisions or poor decisions.
Now, if you ask who is running the White House. I truly don't know. We used to say that as kind of a joke. Now we say it very seriously.
You look at this president. And you know he doesn't have the capability to be running the most powerful government in the world.
So then who is?
There's no question that secretary Austin is running the Pentagon.
Again, short of last week.
And you see it reflected in the decisions they make.
And the poor judgment, filtered through the entire pentagon.
The entire Department of Defense.
And it breaks my heart to see the institution, that I spent many much of my life serving.
And so did my brothers and fathers. And so did my nephews and nieces. To see it so abused by arrogance and judgment. That just isn't up to what these fine young men and women deserve.
GLENN: Well, I understand why he didn't want to talk about the penile reduction surgery. But if it wasn't that. Let's just say it wasn't that, why not -- why not say why you're going in?
What's the big deal?
CHRIS: Well, on so -- if people. And I haven understanding of this, Glenn. That I recently resigned from Congress, because of health concerns with my wife. So I'm sensitive. You know, in a day that is very, very public, for serving the public position.
That, you know, there are sensitivities that involve health concerns. I get that.
But you don't -- I mean, it was -- so maybe we don't need to why he went into elective surgery. But if you have a reaction that puts him in intensive care. That's the different. And that has to be discussed.
And then if you're not going to discuss the reasons why. And I think, again, being an intensive care, just kind of demands an answer. If you're unwilling to talk about that. You still have to tell people, here I am.
And don't worry because my assistant secretary knows I'm here.
No. She didn't.
And tonight worry, because my boss, the president of the United States knows and has made accommodations. No, he didn't.
I mean, that's the minimum, that we would expect.
To communications about it. And one last thing about it Glenn. I think this is important.
The secretary doesn't disappear into a hospital. And not have a large group of people know that.
I mean, he was certainly accompanied in the hospital. With probably more than a dozen people.
Maybe several to see.
And none of them acted responsibly either.
Some of them should have raised their head, and said, hey, the American people, and the leadership, at the White House, deserves to know where we are today.
GLENN: Chris, thank you so much.