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Cogito, ergo blogo.

 Interesting, and, I suspect, ultimately meaningless analysis (from a friend, Mr. Wolf):

"Does anyone here realize that this will be the first election since 1944 to have NEITHER candidate with military experience?

Dewey had none.

Roosevelt had none, but had been SecNav during WWI and been in Europe. Not that that qualifies, but its as close as any others came without actually serving.

Let's see where this gets us..."

Given that Reagan's, Nixon's, Johnson's, Kerry's, Gore's, et. al.'s service was generally as juniors, and generally short, other than for the fact they served, not terribly useful in the context of Presidential roles. McCain did have career length service with considerable personal cost, but not in such a manner as to have gained huge insight into the role of a Commander in Chief. In that context, Eisenhower has the best credential, followed by Roosevelt.

I don't see that, based on performance, Johnson, Nixon, or Carter gained much from their service.

I would even suggest that Truman's service in WWI, while commendable as an individual, worked against him in his role as CinC, as he initially indulged some of his (well earned) bitterness in re Regulars to potentially affect his judgement post-WWII with direct consequences when Korea bit him in the butt.


Pull up a chair, draw a brew or pour, and whatcha all think?

Try to refrain from reflexive bashing of individuals and concentrate on the theme...   

Which I know, for some of you, will probably cause your heads to explode 8^D

But I learn more when I'm not distracted by flying spittle!

24 Comments


Actually, there IS a candidate in the race who does have military experience, albeit as a flight surgeon.  Just sayin'....

and no, not hijacking the thread, just pointing it out as a correction.

While I would prefer our elected officials to have military service/experience, I concur with the Armorer on this one.  Prior service does not a better CIC make.  But again, I would prefer that one had some idea of what miitary service is all about.
 
 And Mr. Paul is going to appear as an actual candidate for the office from which party during the actual election?

Not a correction, yet.  Unless something really spectacular happens at the convention, or Mr. Paul goes out on his own.

Just sayin'.
 

As the sayin' goes, "it ain't over til' it's over". and nothing is official yet.   Watch the convention, the actual delegate count and make popcorn.  Again, not hijacking the thread.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled milblog.
 
 What makes this even more interesting is this. They are both from John's favorite political school of thinking, if you want to call it, thinking. They are both elitists! 

As Kevin so  well put it, “We now return you to your regularly scheduled mlblog.”

Good  Luck!
 


"They are both from John's favorite political school of thinking, if you want to call it, thinking. They are both elitists! "

Considers making the popcorn a wee bit earlier than planned....

 
 Grumpy, just which John d'you have in mind?  o0
 
Probably me, although I remain resolute in my refusal to vote for either side.

Cheers
 
 Since Paul was in the AF, I question that he has military experience (alerts SA-300 site while buttoning up his tank)

Seriously, Paul spent the min time on Active duty and a coupla years in the ANG as a flight surgeon. He got out as a Captain, so I have serious doubts he was much of a trooper even as a flight surgeon. I don't see him as a candidate at all after the primaries are over.

LIke Kevin, I'd like them to have an idea of what military service is like, from a personal perspective. It might not make them a better CINC, but I think it would give them better understanding of what they are asking of the military. In Ike's case, I'm not sure it made him a better Prez, but I note that Ivan took him more seriously than they took either Truman before him, or JFK afterwards.
 
Hey I would like to have a presidential hopeful to have some military training, even if it was just a six month tour as a NG private.  At at least he/she would know how to salute the flag.
 
How many previous presidents would have had military experience of sufficient level to give them insight into the role of CinC?

I'd wager only 3:  Washington, Grant, and Ike.  Slight possibility to Taylor.  There were some other generals (W.H. Harrison and Hayes spring immediately to mind.)  Winfield Scott and George McClellan failed in their electoral bids.

But there have been plenty of presidents who managed not to be foreign policy or military policy disasters despite their dearth of military experience:  Jefferson, Monroe, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan, to name a few.
 
"I note that Ivan took him more seriously than they took either Truman before him, or JFK afterwards."
Both of whom had 'been to touch the elephant'. 
Truman:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_S._Truman#World_War_I
ANd Kennedy drove his PT in front of an IJN destroyer.

Merely being in doesn't seem to do much if this is the example we're following. 

I'm with Heartless on this.  There's a good number of historical leaders both in the US and UK(Churchill being paramount) who had little to no military experience who wound up being giants in the Pol-Mil field. 

Given a choice between a general---who doesn't really seem to know what he's doing(think Wesley Clarke, aka THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS)---or a candidate who seems to have their head on straight vis Pol-Mil issues, which does not mean agrees with me but that they actually are dealing with the world as it is, I'll take the pure civilian. 

But you really can never tell until they joker's in office to know whether you've got a turkey or not.  Bush came in with a plan to pivot towards China, and we all saw how that went. 
 
But there have been plenty of presidents who managed not to be foreign policy or military policy disasters despite their dearth of military experience:  Jefferson, Monroe, Lincoln...

Lincoln served a stint with the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War, HL. He didn't see combat, but other than that, he got a pretty good taste of what the military is all about.
 
And Kennedy drove parked his PT in front of an IJN destroyer.

Fixed it for ya, ry.
 
 The Armorer  raises a question  to me, “Grumpy, just which John d'you have in mind? oO”

To be honest with you, I use the one marked for MEN. But to answer your question, I don't think either of them appeals to either of you!

As I look at concept of a requirement for Presidents of the US to have a history in the military, I see some serious flaws in that logic. LBJ was a Congressman and got a special letter from SECNAV to join the Navy and supposedly he won the Silver Star. Many people believe that Award was for political reasons, rather than military reasons. It is not just the fact that he had been in the military, but the real question is this, what kind of service did he give? Did he actually give the service to meet their needs of the service or is there more to the story, the good, bad and ugly in their history? There is so much that is not recorded in the history books, that would change many minds in this country and even this blog. The Armorer wrote a piece about which is more important, being a good warrior or a good soldier? Ike had a very hot temper, but what made it worse is that it was a very disciplined anger. His time in the military helped him to learn what it meant to be a real diplomat. The more you know about him will actually show you the complexity of the world that we live in.

The fact that one of these politicians had time in the military may really be nothing until you understand that person's role in their service to this nation. In some cases, it is nothing more than a façade. What you really want to look at are the people that he brings into his inner circle, they will either make him or equally so, break him.
 
 Grumpy, there were a number of Congressmen other than LBJ that ended up in the military during WW2. All ended up being recalled because most of them just got in the way. If they were going to be Congresscritters, then they needed to be in DC, not fouling up things downrange.

I don't recall what LBJ got his Silver Star for, but have read several stories in which LBJ appeared for seemingly no reason. But, later, LBJ seemed to think his very limited military service in WW2 somehow qualified him to direct the Vietnam war from the WH situation room. The idiot even had a sand table model of Khe Sahn in the Sit room so he could direct the battle. He and his minions also selected targets and mission packages for the bombing campaign in North Vietnam.

It's a good thing if they understand what military service means to an individual. I think Reagan understood that. Even Carter had a good idea. LBJ didn't. Plus LBJ was a legend in his own mind. Ike, even if he wasn't a very good General as such, understood military service and the impact of war, and wanted to prevent it. While SAC was abuilding before he came into office, he continued the build up and, more importantly, Ivan truly thought that Ike would use it if pushed. There was many a Soviet sabre rattling exerciset hat got the kibosh because LeMay, and Power after him, ordered refuling exercises in north of the Soviet Arctic. They really feared SAC.

Having said that, It doesn't take an Ike to do what Ike did. Reagan did it too, if a bit more clumsily, but he suceeded too.
 
Thomas Jefferson was a Colonel in the Virginia Militia, but I suspect he was mostly a paper pusher. He did own several cannons, as well as small arms.
 

I guess I have much lower expectations than most people........I'd just like to see my candidate *not* have had a draft deferment while everybody else was stepping up to the plate.

 
 Armorer, thank you, for this post. You have allowed us to speak our minds and even have a little fun, if we stayed within the rulez. I will be the first to admit, I don't like or trust either of them. This is the real reason that I stirred  this pot.

Quartermaster, Ike came at a strategic time in our Nation's history. I don't believe he was perfect, he did make mistakes and he admitted them. When it comes to “Operation Overlord”, there is much that is not discussed in the history books. The same is true of Ronald Reagan. They were different men, serving in different times, but  both served this  Nation, well.
 
Agree with QM that Pauls two years as a  uniformed doctor doesn't much qualify him as a "vet," except in the broadest sense. Al Gore had more boots on the ground experience than that.

As for some miracle at the convention: hate to break it to the Ronulans, but it ain't gonna happen. Romney needs 297 delegates to break 1,144, which means he only needs about 30% of the delegates remaining. Given that he's out-performed the entire field darn near 2-1 (847 vs. 476), that's a very low bar. In other words, given past performance -and ignoring any band-wagon effect- Romney is on track to win about 644 delegates against all other candidates. 'Nuff said.

JM, if you truly do intend to avoid voting for either side, then you're part of the problem, and not the solution.

With respect to LBJ, the Silver Star was fraudlently obtained; the B-26 carrying Johnson turned back with a bad engine early in the mission, and never encountered enemy aircraft, no matter what Martin Caidin later wrote. The putative deal was that MacArthur would issue the medal in exchange for LBJ exerting his influence in favor of Mac in tems of logistics, manning, and priorities.

A quick survey indicates little correlation between millitary experience and performance as wartime CINC. Washington, as always, stands alone. Madison didn't do very well during the war of 1812, but the United States was incapable of achieving the conquest of Canadar in any case. Although Polk belonged to a Militia, there is no evidence he enjoyed any experience. In any case, the Mexican-American was essentially run by the Army, with little civilian leadership.

Next up is the Civil War, and -as Bill pointed out- while Lincoln didn't get much military experience, he got a good first-hand look at the nastier side of war. That said, until he had the Halleck/Grant team in place, the Northern strategy was largely flawed. Even though McKinley enjoyed genuine war service during the Civil War, he allowed his better judgment be over-ruled. Again, the war was quickly won with little civilan oversight.

Wilson was the first President with no military service at all to lead the country during a major war. His failure to win the peace (an area one would expect more expertise given  his background) was remarkable.

FDR did quite well overall, especially in picking the right men, then listening to their advice. I've read that Marshall did once ask him to quit referring to "my Navy," given the hoary old Army/Navy rivalry. :)

Truman's first reactions durng Korea weren't too bad, but he never could drag the war out of stalemate.

"Veterans" JFK/LBJ pretty much screwed the pooch in Vietnam, with only the Quaker Nixon (who could have easily gained a deferment, but volunteered for WW2) with a background in logistics doing very well.

Regan was famous for his "Hollywood service" during the war; most Americans don't know that his classication limilted his service to CONUS only. Excellent job of winning the Cold War.

Bush '43 was doubtless qualified as an interceptor pilot, but he arguably made several major errors after 9/11. Obama on the other hand seems mostly interested in losing as quickly as possible

At the end of the day we can see that -given the background of those leading the country during our significant wars- there is very little correlation between service experience and wartime POTUS performance. There is, on the other hand, a very high correlation between notable service during a (won) war -the higher the rank the better- and winning an election. In other words, vets don't neccessarily make better wartime leaders, but enjoy a campaign advantage.

The classic examples are Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower, with very nearly every President between JFK & Bush '41 enjoying at least some postive benefit from WW2 service. Counter examples would be "Black" Jack Pershing (who refused to run); MacArthur, who fared poorly in Korea while Ike got elected; William Westmoreland, since we "lost" the Vietnam War, and John Kerry, who should have enjoyed more advantage from his service compared to Bush '43.I expect the fact that we "lost" the war, along with his exaggeration of service (the three "boo-boos") hurt.

*Almost forgot Zarachy Taylor, who enjoyed a boost from his Mexican-American war service, as well as Teddy Rooseveldt & the Spanish-American War.

So. The conclusion is that experience as a "vet" is generally of more use on the campaign trail than while holding office.

 
 Casey - given that JMH is Canadian, one hopes he'd not be voting for either. You would perhaps recognize his old nic - CAPT H.

RJewell - given the social strata and age we're getting the candidates from right now, having had a deferment is more likely than not any more, I'm thinking.

We're a shrinking demographic, we veterans (I know, you were talking draft status, not veteran).

Oddly enough, we are caught on the horns of a dilemma...  we lament the lack of service amongs the illuminati, yet at the same time, the reason we're a shrinking demographic is that we're better at what we do, so we don't need as many to do it (lots of argument space in there, I know), and because we're better at it, combined with the fact that others in the world are also better at running their affairs (counter-intuitive, yes) that there has been less need for us to do what we do... which has given us the dichotomy that the current group of us out there in the meadow where the iron crosses grow are having to spend more time doing what we do at the sharp end than many of our predeccessors did.
 
It's nice to see TR get a mention (if only to keep him from rising from the grave to kill us all for our impudence).  But why has no one mentioned Andrew Jackson?  The man DID lead troops into battle in the Battle of New Orleans (which was HARDLY a sure thing).  He was also the last President to pay off the national debt.
 
Also, ol' Andy was willing to catch a bullet for the honor of his wife. You have to admire that.
 
Ron Paul has worn the Blue Blouse, as did I, once a week in AFROTC.  He was a physician, but he did swear The Oath, and promise to go where he was sent, and do what he was told.  I believe Rivrdog also wore the Blue Blouse, and got shot at for his trouble. And had to contemplate the perils of the downwards ejection seat.
 

Presidential candidates are almost always selected before the circus gets to town here in Indiana.  We will, however, get to cast a vote for one of the three appearing on the ballot here next Tuesday.

Our choice is between an unelectable fruit cake who served and two guys who made a concious decision to serve their own personal interests rather than their Country when they were young men and pretty much everyone else was answering the call. 

I find none of them acceptable.  You're right, John, age has crept up on my generation, and this cycle is likely our last shot at ever electing a Viet Nam Veteran to the White House.  Oh, well, I guess we can rightfully boast about being the generation who provided the most Draft Dodgers...............

Will it void my ballot if I write in "none of the above"?