Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) has been on a crusade to award the Medal of Honor posthumously to Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who, despite having been shot in the head, threw his body over a grenade to save the lives of the Marines fighting with him in Iraq. The Pentagon has a presumably rigorous process to determine who receives this medal, but Rep. Hunter, abetted by Sgt. Peralta’s media-savvy family and the media themselves, has declared that, in his opinion, the decision reached through professional analysis of eyewitness testimony, medical reports, and the Pentagon’s standards was not correct.
No one should doubt (or has doubted) Sgt. Peralta’s heroism or patriotism, nor the sacrifice made by himself and his family. The Department of Defense awarded him the Navy Cross, the second-highest decoration available.
But his family has astonishingly refused to accept the medal. Rep. Hunter, perhaps grandstanding to demonstrate his support for the men and women in uniform and to illustrate his tireless support for a home-state constituent, has repeatedly pressed Secretary Panetta and robustly taken his viewpoint to the press. Columnist Ruben Navarrette even questioned how Latinos could support President Obama so strongly when he denied this honor to one of their own.
You won’t find this blogger blindly defending decisions made by government bureaucracies, nor denying that Congress has the responsibility to vigorously oversee executive agencies’ actions, but the armchair evaluation of the merits and politicization of this case by Rep. Hunter, Sgt. Peralta’s family, and the media strikes us as quite unsavory.