I’ve been reading a 1973 interview by J. Neil Schulman of Robert A. Heinlein, and the following exchange jumped out at me:
SCHULMAN: Okay. How about question number five? [A number of questions relating to the Nixon Administration, impeachment, and relations with communist countries]
HEINLEIN: Let’s leave that one alone.
HEINLEIN: The reason I want to leave it alone is because like it or not the people you mentioned, at the present time, have tremendous responsibilities and I have no wish to jiggle their arms or second-guess them or be a Sunday-morning quarterback. It’s very complicated and you don’t have to like a man to know he’s Officer of the Deck at the moment.
Our nation has long had a tradition that when we are at war, the politicians circle the wagons and get the job done first, and then worry about the politics afterwards. Another tradition, as stated by Senator Arthur Vandenberg, is “Politics must end at the water’s edge.” In other words, Americans overseas shouldn’t bad-mouth our government. It’s completely acceptable to discuss family failings within the family, but it is considered rude and shameful to hang out the dirty laundry in full view of the public.
This was understood by both parties in days gone by, but not now.