Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Ermey Says He’ll 'Square Away' Birthers
Troops challenging the legitimacy of President Barack Obama as commander-in-chief -- including at least one who is fighting deployment -- should take heed: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman wants to know your "major malfunction."
R. Lee Ermey, the Marine-turned-actor whose role as drill instructor Gunny Hartman in the late Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" has all but placed the Vietnam veteran in the pantheon of Marine heroes alongside "Chesty" Puller, Smedley Butler and Dan Daly, isn't buying anyone's political objector status.
"I haven't heard about those guys," Ermey told Military.com during an Aug. 21 interview. "If I do run across them though, trust me, I'll square them away."
Two GIs deployed to Iraq have insisted that Obama isn't a legal citizen while another Soldier, Maj. Stefan Cook, has been waging a court fight – first in Georgia, then Florida – to force the president to produce a birth certificate that will satisfy his objections.
The cases are the first known instances of some troops joining what has become known as the "birther" movement, referring to Americans who doubt whether Obama is technically qualified to be president based on the absence of a "long form" birth certificate that documents where he was born.
Cook initially volunteered for deployment, but later refused the orders on grounds that Obama cannot deploy him because he is not legally president.
The 64-year-old Ermey, longtime host of the History Channel's "Mail Call," in which he answered letter-writer's questions about the military, operations and weapons, just launched a new show on the network in July. "Lock 'N Load with R. Lee Ermey" will give viewers a more in-depth look at military weaponry.
With Ermey's unabashed support and praise of American troops and his military-related screen career, it might be easy to mistake him for a zealous right-winger.
But Ermey rejects party affiliation or any extreme political leanings, as he explained in an interview with writer/blogger Paul McCormack a few years ago.
"I'm an Independent. I'm not a Republican, I'm not a Democrat," he said at the time. "I'm a middle-of-the-road guy, and I call on logic and common sense, okay?"
Ermey told McCormack that while he voted for George Bush in 2004, he would be just as supportive of John Kerry had he won the presidency, "and I wish more people would be like that."
Of Obama, Ermey said he was "a little wary at first" on how he would handle the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not now, though.
"I think our president is doing a commendable job," he said. "He picked up where George Bush left off. … We're continuing to take care of the terrorist situation."
Ermey said the terrorists have won a small victory since he has to "be strip-searched" every time he goes through an airport, and "you can't let them win any more than they already have."
Ermey found fame after playing Gunny Hartman in Kubrick's 1987 "Full Metal Jacket." Though brought onto the set as a technical advisor, he impressed director Kubrick with his steel-tough portrayal of Hartman, highlighted by a machine-gun like delivery of obscenity-laced lines that was as realistic as it was surreal.
But Ermey told Military.com that there is no truth to the story that he barked an order at Kubrick and so took him by surprise that the director complied before realizing what he had done.
"No," he laughed. "Stanley and I got along very good, very well."
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