LAT Op-ed Writer Compares Petraeus' Ribbons to Chotchkie's Flair

"Memo to Petraeus: When you're making the case for more patriotic gore, go easy on the glitter."

That's how Los Angeles-based writer Matthew DeBord concluded his LA Times op-ed entitled "Petraeus' 'ribbon creep.'"So DeBord apparently thinks ribbons worn on the service dress uniform are the equivalent of "flair" that Chotchkie's waiters wore in the comedy classic "Office Space"? Here's how DeBord began his screed against Petraeus being decked out in "martial bling":

Gen. David H. Petraeus may be as impressive a military professional as the United States has developed in recent years, but he could use some strategic advice on how to manage his sartorial PR. Witness his congressional testimony on the state of the war in Iraq. There he sits in elaborate Army regalia, four stars glistening on each shoulder, nine rows of colorful ribbons on his left breast, and various other medallions, brooches and patches scattered across the rest of the available real estate on his uniform. He even wears his name tag, a lone and incongruous hunk of cheap plastic in a region of pristine gilt, just in case the politicians aren't sure who he is. That's a lot of martial bling, especially for an officer who hadn't seen combat until five years ago. Unfortunately, brazen preening and "ribbon creep" among the Army's modern-day upper crust have trumped the time-honored military virtues of humility, duty and personal reserve.

Of course, aside from being loopy and insulting to American servicemen and women, DeBord's sartorial advice conveniently throws out two things: 1) the green service dress uniform Petraeus wore is perfectly suitable for appearing before a congressional committee 2) the U.S. Army has felled forests to write regulations about the proper wear of uniforms. With a simple Google search, DeBord could have found, for example, a 362-page PDF of "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia." A summary at the beginning of the document reads:

This regulation prescribes Department of the Army policy for proper wear and appearance of Army uniforms and insignia, as worn by officers and enlisted personnel of the active and reserve components of the Army, as well as by former soldiers.

That's no matter to DeBord who scoffs that Petraeus, as a four-star, "can surely have some say when it comes to matters of peacockery."DeBord's piece is in the op-ed section and rightly so. He's entitled to his opinion. But we are also entitled to label him a four-star buffoon. Feel free to pin your medals of dishonor on DeBord in the comments section below.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters