I taught English for only a very brief time, but I became infected with a mania for pinning down the meaning of a word as much as possible. If we know that a missile from an enemy country is headed our way, that is clearly an exigent circumstance that does not allow time for consultation with Congress on what to do.
Action to release or rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have been of a high priority, but I do not believe that it was exigent.
In the name of the common good of our country, we routinely ask men to give up or to endanger their lives. More often than not, we make little issue of a life lost on behalf of the common good. Many of my friends and comrades of World War II lost their lives with no fuss whatever made of the event. The rationale behind the action for a minor event can be very compelling, but it seems to me that a mouse has roared and an elephant has come forth in the Bergdahl situation.
We may be sifting out our ideas about accountability, charity, honor, dependability and generally who we are in America, but we need to maintain some of our Yankee knack for being shrewd traders.
I hope I am not one of those people who make wild unfounded charges against our government, but I wish to be an honest critic of friends and foes. There certainly are exigent circumstances that require immediate action. However, it seems a far stretch to call the Bergdahl case exigent. The Benghazi case was certainly an exigent circumstance, which was met with routine action in my opinion —not neglect but certainly business-as-usual action.
Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush left the Congress out of the loop when there was no exigency and they were scalded appropriately for it by the media and the public. That is how we keep our checks and balances at work in our democracy, and that is my objective in writing this article.
The fellow who called me a senile doofus has recanted and left me high and dry with no one to set me straight. Somebody ought to respond to this article with a stirring condemnation of my confusion. I do not always know the day of the week anymore, and I need someone to guide me back toward reality. Any volunteers will be appreciated.
TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN. 47803.