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, April 24, 2008

P. J. O'Rourke On TR and John McCain

[Intel Source: M. Simon] My favorite political writer, P. J. O'Rourke, has an article in the new Weekly Standard about his visit to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) -- one of the Nimitz-class carriers that's named after a submarine. Excerpt:
Some say John McCain's character was formed in a North Vietnamese prison. I say those people should take a gander at what John chose to do--voluntarily. Being a carrier pilot requires aptitude, intelligence, skill, knowledge, discernment, and courage of a kind rarely found anywhere but in a poem of Homer's or a half gallon of Dewar's. I look from John McCain to what the opposition has to offer. There's Ms. Smarty-Pantsuit, the Bosnia-Under-Sniper-Fire poster gal, former prominent Washington hostess, and now the JV senator from the state that brought you Eliot Spitzer and Bear Stearns. And there's the happy-talk boy wonder, the plaster Balthazar in the Cook County political crèche, whose policy pronouncements sound like a walk through Greenwich Village in 1968: "Change, man? Got any spare change? Change?"
Some people say John McCain isn't conservative enough. But there's more to conservatism than low taxes, Jesus, and waterboarding at Gitmo. Conservatism is also a matter of honor, duty, valor, patriotism, self-discipline, responsibility, good order, respect for our national institutions, reverence for the traditions of civilization, and adherence to the political honesty upon which all principles of democracy are based. Given what screw-ups we humans are in these respects, conservatism is also a matter of sense of humor. Heard any good quips lately from Hillary or Barack?
A one-day visit to an aircraft carrier is a lifelong lesson in conservatism. The ship is immense, going seven decks down from the flight deck and ten levels up in the tower. But it's full, with some 5,500 people aboard. Living space is as cramped as steerage on the way to Ellis Island. Even the pilots live in three-bunk cabins as small and windowless as hall closets. A warship is a sort of giant Sherman tank upon the water. Once below deck you're sealed inside. There are no cheery portholes to wave from.
McCain could hardly escape understanding the limits of something huge but hermetic, like a government is, and packed with a madding crowd. It requires organization, needs hierarchies, demands meritocracy, insists upon delegation of authority. An intricate, time-tested system replete with checks and balances is not a plaything to be moved around in a doll house of ideology. It is not a toy bunny serving imaginary sweets at a make-believe political tea party. The captain commands, but his whims do not. He answers to the nation.
I'm a Democrat when it comes to Idaho politics, because in Idaho the Democrats seem to have the most leaders who understand how the world really works. Likewise, on the national stage, John McCain is much more grounded in reality than the two Democratic candidates. Although I'm convinced the country is strong enough to survive one term of an Obama Presidency, I'd still prefer we pick a realist as a leader this year, rather than spending four years seeing that trying to put "Imagine" into practice on a worldwide scale won't work.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article (with the exception of the ship...thats 7 decks below the HANGAR DECK, and 10 Levels above).

4/24/2008 1:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A one-day visit to an aircraft carrier is a lifelong lesson in conservatism."

What about conservatism can we learn from:

A) Sex in the fanroom.

B) Gangs

C) Officers who barely acknowledge, much less respect, the enlisted (except the few guys that do the maintenence that keeps the pilots alive).

D) Bad food.

E) Being a target.

4/24/2008 9:30 PM

Anonymous Marty Smith said...

Oh come on. At least base your vote on something other than a Beatle's song. Yeah, the country would really barely survive a term with Obama. After surviving 8 years of Bush and Cheney, this country has proved that damn near any idiot can sit in the Oval Office and we still stumble onward. How's the economy in Idaho doing? Things here at EUCOM are fine, lots of rich contractors driving BMWs and Mercedez around...

4/24/2008 11:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If living in cramped quarters and isolation are such qualifiers for Presidency, how come Jimmy Carter wasn't any better?

4/29/2008 9:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to have much more respect for Dubbya's daddie, who qualified as a naval aviator flying TBM Avengers off the CVL San Jacinto (a helluva lot more precarious flight deck and a helluva lot more dangerous job than any jet powered mud-mover operating an attack bird off the Forrestal, the Oriskany, or a modern Nimitz-class CVN).

I've always thought that instead of "Hail to the Chief" whenever George H.W. Bush enters the room, the PA system should strike up an excerpt from Richard Rodgers' "Theme of the Fast Carriers."

As for John "The Enemy Ace" McCain (who is entitled with the honorific for having been one of the few naval aviators to have permenently erased five aircraft from the BuAer inventories), his prolonged, privileged, and painfully maladroit progression to carrier qualification is hardly something that speaks well of his thoughtfulness or discretion, either as a professional officer or as a potential commander-in-chief.


6/16/2008 10:29 PM

Blogger King said...

I'm a submarine officer, just like many of you, and trust me, I'm no hero, just like the vast majority of you. My experience has given me the ability to do many things, being president is not one of them. If I were on a sub that got captured and was tortured for five years, I would be, at best, very unlucky.

Yes, occasionally men in the military are driven to do heroic things, and there's something noble about serving your country, but to insist that it necessarily drives you to have some kind of overarching knowledge and wisdom of what it takes to run a country (or in many cases even a division), is patently absurd.

7/03/2008 1:44 AM


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