Which Presidential Candidate Would Be Better For The Submarine Force?
By this time, most people have decided who they're going to support for President on Tuesday. There are probably very few people who vote on the single issue of "Which candidate would be better for the Submarine Force and Submariners in general", but just in case there are some, I figured I'd list what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Sen. McCain is the first career Navy officer to gain a major party nomination for President, so we can assume that he'll know more about how the Navy really works, including submarines. Of course, he was an airdale, so we don't know if his support for the Navy goes beyond supporting Naval aviation. I would think that he would have a special place in his heart for submarines, though, because his father commanded two submarines -- USS Gunnel (SS 253) and USS Dentuda (SS 355) -- during WWII, taking both on combat patrols. Sen. McCain has submarining in his blood. Plus, we know he supports Navy nuclear power. As someone who understands the military, he'll be more likely to let submarines do what they're capable of doing in support of the Global War on Terror.
Sen. Obama, on the other hand, hasn't really said anything about submarines -- other than refusing to comment about whether he thinks submarines should have been included in the recently announced arms sale to Taiwan. As a general rule, Democrats have been better during the Naughties about trying to get the SSN build rate increased to 2 submarines per year -- not because they love what submarines do, but because they're mostly built and maintained in states with strongly Democratic congressional delegations. I expect that Sen. Obama would, as President, be eager to show (at least during his first term) that he's not really anti-military, so he'll look for some areas where he can increase defense spending while helping his congressional allies, and submarines are a good place to start. Democrats have also made a big deal out of supporting veterans with increased money, because that's another way they can show "support" for the military without actually having to support what the people at the end of the spear are really doing; this would make life easier for those of us who get veteran's benefits.
As far as how Sen. Obama would react upon learning about what submarines really do, I worry that he'll have the same knee-jerk reaction shown by the newly-elected President Clinton after the 1993 collision between USS Grayling (SSN 646) and RFS Novomoskovsk (K 407). I'm afraid Sen. Obama, who has likely never had a briefing on what submarines are doing in the real world, will get all lawyer-y and peacenik-y and unilaterally remove some of our capabilities from the board once he finds out about them.
Overall, I think that Sen. McCain would be better from the point of view of the U.S. Submarine Force; as I said, though, I think there are very few people who are casting their vote based on this. I look forward to hearing your ideas on who you think would be the better President for the Sub Force -- hopefully without resorting to personal name-calling. After all, when it's all said and done, we really are all on the same side.