Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Presidential Support of the Military

As I've looked at the controversy concerning the naming of the last Seawolf class boat in honor of Jimmy Carter, some of the more serious posts on the matter have concerned the fact that Carter, as President, cut money from the military. I'm wondering if these same people have an issue with USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) ; after all, the Truman administration cut funding for the proposed supercarrier United States. The issues surrounding unification and the Navy's role in post-WWII strategic defense led to the Revolt of the Admirals, due to the Truman administration's support of the Air Force over the Navy.
Meanwhile, the first Bush administration was the one that initially cut off the Seawolf program after two boats (it tried to cut off funding for SSN-22 as well), and it was the under the Clinton administration that funding was restored for building SSN-23. Does this mean that the Navy shouldn't name CVN-77 the USS George H. W. Bush? (I support both carrier name designations, although I too would like to see both submarine and carrier naming return to the older traditions.)


Blogger Rob said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/17/2005 6:13 PM

Blogger Rob said...

Is the naming of a boat such a partisan matter? Carter served as a submariner and as President; the myth that Democrats are somehow "anti-military" is one that is just that, a myth. He may well have had to make defense cuts, but sometimes defense cuts are needed (defense is by far the biggest part of our budget...I'm on active duty and sometimes I think defense spending is overdone).

Legislators and politicians on both sides of the aisle, come budget time, look to places to trim the bucks. Usually it's pet programs for their area of representation (for Congress), but when the President submits his budget he has to look at the whole banana. Faced with tough economic times (and not in a wartime situation), a logical place to look for savings was defense.

And in Carter's defense, Presidents only propose budgets...the budget sent to Congress is more of a "wish list". Congress gets it, hacks it to pieces, revises it like an S6G RPM, hacks it some more, and in really contentious years they send it to the White House and get it back a few times before the battle is done. So in reality, while Carter may have proposed defense cuts, if it got cut Congress had a big hand in it as well.

And cutting defense spending does not make one "anti-military"; fiscally, it may only mean one is a realist. Republicans could well remember this in their desire to cut taxes...all that "pro-military" money has to come from somewhere.

I base my feelings of a politician being "pro-military" not on how much money he tosses down the DoD gullet, but on how he conducts the business of the nation, and thus how much use the military gets as a result. "Pro-military" means not frivilously rattling the saber and beating one's chest, too. It's not always fun to say "hey, I'm going to cut the military back some", but if you look at it with a truly self-critical eye, sometimes we desire to hold on to things for no other reason than we want to hold on to them...and when they cost in the billions, sometimes for the greater good you have to let 'em go.

Carter was above all other things sincere in his desire to do right by the nation. His life shows that; from Naval service to Presidency to his prolific career as a diplomat and highly respected statesman after his term in office, he has dedicated a life to the United States. Political differences aside, he served the nation to the best of his ability and honoring those decades of service with a ship named after him is not at all inappropriate.

I do, however, agree with naming conventions...subs should be named after fish, damnit!

2/17/2005 6:13 PM

Blogger lawhawk said...

I would agree with the original posting, which would have subs and carriers named in the traditional manner. Only problem is that fish and glorious and illustrious names not referring to politicians do not vote.

And that's what the current naming rights come down to. Politicians vote on funding carriers, subs, and everything else the military builds. So, the naming is political.

2/17/2005 7:17 PM

Anonymous Former Navet said...

The fish name I would suggest would be the "Snail Darter" native of GA, TN and AL. This endangered species is much like southern Democrat politicians finding their habitat treatened by those hyrdo-power hungry Republicans. (Bush Lied, fish died!)

Sorry couldn't help myself;)

Former NavET

2/17/2005 8:36 PM

Blogger Rob said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/17/2005 8:54 PM

Blogger WillyShake said...

Bubblehead, I must say I'm surprised and fascinated that you feel you must defend the naming of SSN 23. That's not a judgment of you, just an expression of curiosity about the way human loyalties work. *shrugs*

For may part, my comments were meant almost entirely in jest. Look, I get it that Carter was a submariner so if you're gonna name a ship after him, it should preferrably be a sub. Fine. But I also think that there IS irony here. The fact is that Carter, like Clinton, drew his political power in large part from a constituency that hates the US military. Not JUST those folks, to be sure, but they were/are his supporters none the less. Why else sit next to Michael Moore at the convention last summer? It's all well and good for Rob to say that Carter was "above all...sincere in his desire to do right by the nation". I have no doubt that Michael Moore feels exactly the same way, though in my opinion he's misguided. And it's also right and just to point out the history of contingencies of federal budget ranglings. But at the end of the day, there has been (roughly since the 1967 Dem. national convention) a group of constituents who oppose military budget spending at every turn, and politicians like Jimmy Carter have come to power by appealing to this group. I therefore find it IRONIC that we name a sub after him. Do you see what I mean? I have no doubt Carter is, personally, a good man who cherishes his Navy days. So, I'm not going to protest the boat's naming and I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it. But I find it ironic to the point of being pathetic and embarrassing.

BESIDES, I've always been of the mind that the RN has the right idea on how to name ships: Invincible, Intrepid, etc. LOL. That's the way to do it!

Thanks for posting your thought-provoking comments!

2/18/2005 7:58 AM

Blogger submandave said...

One of the biggest reservations I had with using Carter's name was that the Navy was so obviously opening up itself for jokes like this. Oh, well, it's done.

2/18/2005 12:15 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think I'm defending the naming of the boat so much mostly due to my pride at having been part of such a great crew manning an incredible machine; also, I honestly have never shared the antipathy towards Carter that many on the right have. With respect to his supporters, WillyShake is of course right; however, I can think of a few supporters of Republican Presidents who I could do without being linked with. I think the perception, which may or may not be true, that the naming of a military vessel after someone is a gesture of respect from the Navy, rather than the country as a whole, that contributes to the controversy. (Eisenhower never did much for the Navy, for instance.) As far as better ship names, I fully support going back to traditional naming conventions, or even copying the British names; Unseen is, IMHO, the best submarine name ever. Lawhawk is right that naming of ships now is political; with the growing influence of corporations in politics, I predict that in 20 years we'll see ship names going out to the highest corporate bidder. Want a posting to the USS Mircosoft? Will people laugh at Sailors on USS Tidy-Bowl?

2/18/2005 12:40 PM

Anonymous Former NavET said...

Subs named for the highest corporate bidder? I don't know about that. Can you imagine being Lt Michael Moore Jr. aboard the USS Halliburton. ;)

2/18/2005 1:39 PM

Blogger WillyShake said...

Great point, Bubblehead. Boy I sure hope you're wrong about corporate sponsorship/naming of vessels: can you imagine having to put up with Michael Jackson christening the USS Pepsi or some such nightmare?! LOL.

2/18/2005 6:34 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

USS Viagra, USS Cialis... there'd be no end to the "long tube full of seaman" jokes if they came up with a "Natural Male Enhancement" class of submarines...

2/18/2005 7:26 PM


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