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Tuesday was a good day for candor. Which made Tuesday unusual, and in many ways encouraging.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley dodged nothing in answering questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Head of Central Command General Frank McKenzie was equally forthright and direct. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was somewhat more guarded, but not openly evasive.

Yes, General Milley said. I talked with my Chinese military counterpart in the closing days and weeks of the Trump Administration. It’s part of my job. Nobody needed accidents, misunderstandings or surprises.

Yes, I agreed to be interviewed by some of the authors of recent books about Trump’s presidency.

No, I can’t tell you if I was quoted accurately in the books, because I haven’t read them.

General McKenzie, responding to questions about the loss of 13 American military personnel during the frenetic exit from Afghanistan, said, essentially, that sometimes the bad guys slip one through on you.

From my perspective, I did not find that response to be flippant, dismissive, insensitive or disrespectful to the memories of our lost heroes.

I found it to be an accurate reflection and description of the realities of armed conflict, offered by a professional soldier.

What was remarkable, and even historic, about the hearing was the witnesses’ willingness to directly address recent and highly inflammatory issues that are still open questions and still the focus of national debate.

General Milley on the final stages of the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul. “It was a logistical success, but a strategic failure.”

While I do not totally agree that the evacuation was even a logistical success, General Milley’s bluntly calling an obvious strategic failure a strategic failure was a refreshing departure from the evasive doublespeak we have come to expect during Congressional hearings. There can be no doubt that the fiasco in Kabul lowered the global standing  and damaged the national interests of the United States. That, by definition, is a “strategic failure.”

Yes, many of the questions from the Senators were predictably purely partisan (both ways), but there did frequently appear to be an honest effort to get to the truth.

And I frankly found much of the criticism directed at the Biden Administration by GOP Senators to be fair and on-point.

Tuesday was a good day for candor.

But the next person we need to hear from is the President of the United States. He said in a nationally televised interview back in August that he received no direct military advice that the U.S. should have left a standing force of 2,500 troops and advisers, that he “remembers.”

The generals said Tuesday that they did give the president that recommendation. They went on to say, properly, that the president was then free to reject that advice.

But Biden has denied he received that counsel.

There’s a discrep here. And it is an important one. And Biden needs to clear it up, if indeed he can.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.