In Defense of Jimmy Carter
In light of President Carter's unfortunate comments in Birmingham, UK last week, CDR Salamander re-visited the controversy over naming SSN-23 the USS Jimmy Carter. I've said before that I would like to see us go back to the more "conventional" names for submarines and aircraft carriers, but what's done is done. In the good Commander's comments, I stated: "While I don't agree with what he says most of the time, he's also one of the few people in public service where I don't feel the need to question his motivations. When he came and spoke to the crew of the Carter, he said that his life-long interest has been the security of the United States, and I believe him." As arguably the most "public" of the former or present Carter crewmembers, it's always been my policy not to personally attack President Carter for some of his more naïve public pronouncements. A public figure making statements in a foreign country attacking the policies our country during wartime is something that I'd normally oppose, and I really can't support President Carter here. (Personally, I'm opposed to keeping the terrorists locked up in Guantanamo as "enemy combatants"; I support designating them as POWs and keeping them locked up in Gitmo until the Taliban and/or Al Qaeda surrenders, and then trying them. So what if the Red Cross visits them once a week -- at least they aren't out blowing up buses.)
Here's some links to my earlier posts about why I think naming SSN-23 for President Carter was justified:
This Cannot Be Borne
Serving On The Jimmy Carter
Presidential Support of the Military
USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) Commissioned
Continuing To Beat A Dead Horse
Quotes From Carter Crewmembers
I have a few more posts, but this is enough to show that I feel fairly strongly about this topic. As far as President Carter's most recent comments, if anyone has earned the right to criticize the U.S. overseas during wartime, it's someone who stood duty as Commander-in-Chief during the Cold War. Think back to the worst duty days you ever had; now think how much worse it would have been if you had to be worried that you might be woken up at night, not to be told that aft draft had gone down six inches in the last hour, but that there were several hundred inbound missile traces and you had to decide within five minutes whether or not to launch. And that this "duty day" lasted four years. The man's paid his dues.
Others complain that someone who did so much to "hurt" the military during his Presidency shouldn't be honored with the naming of a capital ship after him. True, the Carter administration cut the military budget, but I honestly don't think it was because they had a hidden agenda to destroy the U.S. military and allow communist world domination. In an earlier post, I blogged:
"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 also brought up some of the other people who have been honored by having submarines named for them (along with snarky comments that I don't really believe) and wondered how they compared with President Carter:
Robert E. Lee: Most famous for leading rebellion against United States
Sam Houston: Drunk
Alexander Hamilton: Died in duel with sitting Vice President
John Adams: One term President
Nathan Hale: Failed spy; famous last words not known until after war over
Woodrow Wilson: Unreasonable dreams of world peace
James Madison: Let enemy capture and burn Washington, D.C.
Tecumseh: Actively fought against U.S.
John C. Calhoun: One term V.P.; ardent proponent of slavery
Ulysses S. Grant: Drunk; Presidency marred by scandal
Stonewall Jackson: Actively fought against U.S.; fragged
Sam Rayburn: Legislative bureaucrat
Kamehameha: Royalist, not a big supporter of U.S.
George Washington Carver: Known for working with peanuts
Francis Scott Key: Wrote a poem
Will Rogers: "Humorist"?
Conclusion: I don't agree with what President Carter said, but he's paid his dues. Let President Ford publicly put him in his place. I don't have the moral standing to do so.
Dive, make your depth (classified depth greater than 800 feet)! All ahead flank cavitate! Launch aft countermeasures! Make tubes one through eight ready in all respects!
Update 0835 02 August: FlightPundit leaves no doubt about his opinion of President Carter's recent remarks.
Edited 0124 15 August to replace outdated link.