Tommy in Service

An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees! – R. Kipling

I started my first stretch in the military as Jimmy Carter was elected and sworn into office. I did not think anything of him, particularly – either pro or con, although being a bit of a snob, I did think it was distinctly juvenile of him to be known as Jimmy, rather than James. Boys are called by the diminutive; men ought to go by their proper names. The one big issue that I did hold against him for most of my first hitch in the military was when he declined a military spending bill which would have provided for the rebuilding of the Misawa AB high school, which at the time of my assignment there was housed in three pre-WWII buildings which had once been Imperial Japanese Army stables. On hot days, those buildings still smelt faintly of horse, and the students had to use the base gym for their PE classes. I recollect that there was grumbling resentment among the senior NCO cohort (and likely among the officers , too) whose teenaged dependents attended the school, to the effect that that Amy Carter did not attend classes in 70+ old shacks that smelled of ancient horse-shit. The Iran hostage situation and his limp-wristed response to it didn’t develop until later. And Carter – that bundle of mind-numbing sanctimony and anti-Semitism – was gone by the time I was done with that first tour, having pretty much disappointed everyone who assumed that having been a wartime Naval Academy graduate and serving USN officer would have been good for something when it came to being a commander in chief.

There was Ronald Reagan. Whom, I must confess, I did not at the time totally appreciate. The massacre of Marines in Lebanon weighed on us all, and the whole Hollywood-B-movie actor thing was a bit of an embarrassment. Not as much as the election of a dilettante Chicago community organizer would be, but then I am getting ahead of myself. So– save for that one incident – RR pretty much left the military community unscathed, if I recall correctly. He made all the right gestures and speeches, and a fair number of what we only later came to recognize as smart moves. He appreciated the military, in a rather understated way. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 – that unforeseen miracle was in a large part his doing. The cold war menace seemed to dissolve, like mist in the morning, and everyone in the military heaved a sigh of relief. I’d guess there were at least two generations, maybe three, who had expected to see the Russian Army come through the Fulda Gap, and had standing arrangements to see their dependents evacuated from Western Europe in that event. I was one of them.

And so we came to Bush One; a comrade that I served with in Korea had come straight off the White House/Presidential protection element. He adored the senor Bushes, especially Barbara, and to hear him tell it, the senior Mrs. Bush was a fond grandmotherly figure to the agents. She even called him “Timmy” – rather rich, considering that he was one of those six-foot tall built-like-a-concrete-traffic-bollard guys. It turned out that peace did not descend at once, although bases in Western Europe closed right and left. Bush One – he struck us generally as a decent old stick, a for-real combat veteran. I guess that we could say that he did well by the military, as my friend Timmy could attest.

So – on to the Clintons; Timmy good a good look at the whole clan early on, thought they were trashy, and applied for a reassignment. There were stories in print and through the grapevine that Hilary was snotty beyond belief towards the uniformed military. The original Sgt. Stryker – who worked as maintenance crew on the presidential flights during the Clinton administration – allowed on one occasion long afterwards that the only two people associated with it who appeared capable of gracious courtesy towards the Air Force-2 staff were Tipper Gore and Louis Freeh. I myself never had the privilege or pleasure of coming anywhere near Washington DC, or the Pentagon during my time in active service. I had retired the year that the Lewinsky scandal broke, but I was still in touch with friends who still were on active duty. Most of those friends –mid-to-senior NCO ranks, and a handful commissioned officers – were all disgusted; more than disgusted – embarrassed and simmeringly angry. I recollect reading a story in the Air Force Times regarding a number of senior officers being reprimanded for commenting on Bill Clinton’s sexual morals – or lack of same – at a dining-in. A person of senior rank having a sexual relationship with a very-much-younger subordinate would and has gotten a good few military members disciplined or sacked. Seeing the commander in chief get away with it … well, nothing more calculated to drive home the lesson that there is one set of standards for the ruling class, another for the ruled. And in this present time, the military of whatever rank are the ruled.

(to be continued with Bush 2 and the current C-in-C.)

18 thoughts on “Tommy in Service”

  1. A nice book on Reagan is Riding with Reagan by the SS agent who was assigned as being one of the few who knew how to ride. He was immediately befriended by Ron and Nancy and he comments in the book on how Rosalynn Carter was astonished that Nancy knew the first name of the agent assigned to her at the inauguration.

    It seems that Democrats consider the agents as servants. Hillary sure did.

    I thought Carter couldn’t be too bad if he had been a businessman. I doubt he had anything ever to do with the peanut business.

    Democrats have been hostile to the military since Vietnam. The Tailhook scandal was the low point. The story is here . Clinton at least had the sense to be embarrassed by a staff member’s insult to Barry McCaffrey in the White House.

    General McCaffrey, special assistant to Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was visiting the White House on business shortly after Mr. Clinton was inaugurated when he said good day to a woman he presumed to be a Clinton aide. He said she responded: “I don’t speak to people in uniform.”

    Word that one of the nation’s military heroes had been slighted swept through the media and the military establishment like a brush fire. Clinton, of course, denied the story. But later tried to make it up to him.

    The favorite villain for guys I knew was Pat Schroeder who, as a Congressperson, got a law passed that ex-wives got one half the military pension, regardless of the circumstances. She was hated. She, of course, had been a divorce layer before running for office.

    Obama might trump them all, though. Especially if a military members gets Ebola in Africa.

  2. I also joined as Carter was being elected and spend my first 2+ years in Berlin. Never thought that wall would come down. Got out after my first enlistment, as Reagan was being elected.

  3. The odd thing about Pat Shroeder is that she was a little more popular in the military during the 1990s than one might have thought – IIRC, this was because during the draw-down she was against cutting the budget by skimping on base maintenance, especially housing. There was a lot of substandard housing units, overseas and in CONUS, and many of them were in horrible condition. They were ancient, hadn’t been renovated in years, and junior enlisted had no other place to live in especially high-rent areas. I remember reading of one base in Hawaii, I think, where CE had a 45-day wait to come fix a base housing unit toilet. Some of these housing areas were just plain nasty, even worse than public housing complexes usually are. Pat Shroeder came out against letting them slide even farther, and a lot of military families appreciated that.

  4. Well, “Jimmah” was the CIC that followed Gerald Ford, who was top dog when I signed up. What I remember were the Chiefs always carping about how everything was “chickenshit” after the war. This seemed to be compounded by the grinning fool from Plains. Didn’t think too much of it at the time, as my focus was on the all-important liberty schedule. Years later, I find myself living in his home state where, aside from a few urban zip codes, the man is roundly despised. The center named after him, is located in a litter-strewn overgrown lot in a war zone. His grandson is running for something or the other. God help us.

  5. One of the great unintended chuckles that we had at FEN-Misawa’s evening newscast was the night that the director of the evening newscast lagged on changing the slide on rear-screen projection behind the news and sportscaster. The last story before the spot break was one involving President Carter, a stock slide of him with that ear-to-ear s**t-eating grin. And then we went to the break, which was a dental-care spot – but the audio of the spot played over the visual of that ghastly, toothy grin. We giggled over that for days.

  6. Base housing a bit of a sore point with me as we had an example of clueless Republican heavy duty donors who got (probably through their Congressman, Chris Cox who later missed the MBS scandal as SEC chair) the El Toro Marine Base closed. They didn’t like airplanes flying over their ten million dollar waterfront homes in Newport Beach. They came up with a plan to close John Wayne Airport, which was the source of the annoyance and make El Toro the new Orange County Airport. It didn’t occur to them that, because of prevailing wind off the ocean, airliners taking off from El Toro would have to go over Newport anyway. It would cost a billion dollars to tear up the El Toro runways and build new ones pointing west.

    As a result, the Marine air wing got moved to Miramar, where there was no base housing, and the 1200 housing units at El Toro were allowed to deteriorate. The base has been abandoned for ten years. There are a few people as stupid as Democrats.

  7. Always thought with Bill – ironic that his behavior would get a military member – particularly and officer – kicked out of the service.

    So much for the C in C

  8. As an Englishman, and as a father and grandfather, obviously I write as an observer; but an interested and ultimately friendly watcher of the American political scene. The post, by Sgt. Mom discusses the background character of Presidents and their spouses, and I find it impressive that her conclusions mesh with many of my own impressions.

    Peanut-farmer Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, was a disaster on wheels for America, his foreign policy strategies, among which was the removal of support for the Shah of Iran, thus helping place Khomeini and the mullahs in charge, and the signing away of the Panama Canal to a bunch of low-level criminals and drug-runners were truly awful. But the one shining item in his portfolio was his acclaim of ‘Human Rights’, not the wishy-washy union- and liberal-friendly crap which is so loved by the European Union, but the real package, the freedom to worship, even if it’s a mish-mash of ideas like Falun Gong; the freedom to congregate, even in a place like Tiananmen Square and talk about honest reform of government; the freedom to say “get stuffed” to a uniformed bully; the freedoms laid down by the United Nations in 1948, but have long since been either forgotten or misplaced.

    He said in 1997, during a Foreign Policy speech, “The great democracies are not free because we are strong and prosperous. I believe we are strong and influential and prosperous because we are free. Throughout the world today, in free nations and in totalitarian countries as well, there is a preoccupation with the subject of human freedom, human rights. And I believe it is incumbent on us in this country to keep that discussion, that debate, that contention alive. No other country is as well-qualified as we to set an example. We have our own shortcomings and faults, and we should strive constantly and with courage to make sure that we are legitimately proud of what we have.”

    I would however disagree with the Sgt. on Ronald Reagan’s achievements, as I would tend rather to agree with the late author Tom Clancy, whose dedication page on one of his novels read, ‘To Ronald Reagan, the Man who won the War’. Folksy he may have been, but as a leader, and a strategist, America has known few better.

    As a final comment, Sgt. Mom’s categorisation of ‘The One’ as a a dilettante Chicago community organizer just about pins the tail right on the donkey’s butt.

  9. I rather disagree, Mike; there are no universal human rights. Man is a social animal; his rights are part of the society of which he is a part. As that society changes, so do his rights. The US has civil rights determined largely by its British template, which in turn depended on Britain’s history and geography.

    As for ‘Ronald Reagan, the Man who won the War’, I agree. I have a lot of time for Reagan, even though his economic/fiscal policy has eventually proved disastrous. But later politicians had ample opportunity to correct it, whereas few of them would have had the grit to win the Cold War.

  10. “I have a lot of time for Reagan, even though his economic/fiscal policy has eventually proved disastrous.”


    Pre Kemp/Roth tax cut and strong dollar policy made America a tough place to live. Ronald Reagan made our economy far healthier when he left than before he arrived.

  11. He left us with a booming economy in the context of which the additional debt was irrelevant. Borrowing to take advantage of high-growth opportunities during prosperous times is a good thing. Debt is a problem now because it’s at historically high levels and, mainly, because it’s being used to fund relatively unproductive spending while excessive taxation and regulation stifle opportunity.

  12. Dearieme, Can you name a time when a leader “won the war” of significance and did not grow a nation’s debt? I can’t.

    (Out of respect to Sgt. Mom’s topic I will not highjack this thread any further.)

  13. It’s true that U.S. debt increased dramatically under Reagan, but it isn’t all on him. He made a deal with the Democrats with various trade-offs including substantial future spending reductions. Of course the Democrats reneged on their end of the deal. I can visualize Tip O’Neill channeling Otter while speaking to Flounder in “Animal House”: “Face it Gipper, you #!@*%ed up – you trusted us!”

    As far as the Clintons are concerned, many years ago I read Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson’s book “Dereliction of Duty”. Patterson went almost everywhere with Bill Clinton for almost two years as his duty was to carry the nuclear “football” with those unpleasant codes. Let me just say that anyone reading the book who was halfway sane and cared about the national security of the U.S. wouldn’t want either of the Clintons within a thousand miles of the White House. I realize the specifications given eliminate the vast majority of people on the Left; after all, they not only re-elected Obama, they almost gave us Kerry, a man who at best was despised by the military and a worst was a traitor to his country.

  14. Sgt. Mom,
    The massacre of Marines in Lebanon weighed on us all, and the whole Hollywood-B-movie
    Sadly US did not think deep who was behind that terriers action?
    After 2003 US promoted reward one of those terrorist who had US blood in his hand to be PM in Iraq!
    Let read carefully and after talking deep breath:

    “The article, published by AL Mawsul Newspaper, states that Prime Minister Al Maliki was involved with Islamic Jihad (not sure if I read right but is the writer of the article stating Al Maliki helped organize Islamic Jihad??) — a terrorist group active during the Lebanese civil war, known for being one of the more extremist militias that sprang to notoriety during the Lebanese civil war. The Al Mawsul writer states the Iranian ambassador to Damascus at the time, Ali Mohtashami, was the key backer to Islamic Jihad and also helped establish Hezbollah. Al Maliki worked with Mohtashami and Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Halim Zuhairi and Imad Jawad Mughniyah (later killed), and Ali al-Moussawi in setting up Islamic Jihad, which participated in the bombings of the US and French embassies in Beirut as well as the infamous hijacking of the TWA flight (June 14, 1985) The photos are connected to the TWA Hijacking
    it’s mentioned by the writer that US navy airman Robert Stethem (name mispelled in the article) was tortured and murdered, his body thrown on the tarmac from that plane. The photos are from the ‘press conference’ the hijackers arranged and seated at the table are American hostages including pilot John Testrake (with white hair) and seated to his right (i think) is a young Nabih Berri (head of another Lebanese militia, Amal, and now a parliamentarian in Lebanon) with members of Hebollah as well as Islamic Jihad present. The author states the guy whose face is in the red circle is a young Nuri Al Maliki. The article ends with the writer expressing his desire to warn members of Congress and asking how can someone who has taken actions against the Iraqi people and against the assistance from the US in independence, freedom, and progress and other things be supported by the US and President Bush?”

    her some photos and links to article:

  15. The economic growth of the late 80’s and resumed in the 90’s was largely driven by the investment and free trade policies begun by Reagan. He was the first supply side president and showed what supply side incentives can do to increase productivity, investment and technological innovation. Even Clinton continued the deregulation, welfare reform, reduced trade barriers and lower marginal tax rates of the Reagan era. Reagan understood the supply side of macroeconomics and had advisors who did as well. He learned from them and he made the best deals he could with very few allies in congress.

    The problems we are having now with slow growth and capital flight are closely linked to the crowding out of investment by government borrowing to cover grow thing entitlements and warfare under Bush II and now dramatically increasing regulation, increasing marginal and capital gains taxes, tabling trade agreements and exploding entitlements starting in 2007 and placed on fast track by Barry as soon as he could. Barry isn’t a Keynesian or a supply-sider, he is a statist redistributionist. He probably thinks economic growth just automatically happens if he just speaks it into being. His advisors believe everything Krugman writes in the NY Times. If the Hildabeast comes next, Bubba won’t have much say on economic policy, but Saul Alinsky will.


  16. “Even Clinton continued the deregulation, welfare reform, reduced trade barriers and lower marginal tax rates of the Reagan era.”

    If you look at markers, like the stock market, the economic boom under Clinton began, not when he was inaugurated in 1993, but after the 1994 elections which flipped the House and Senate to Republican control for the first time since 1948. Clinton did raise marginal rates retroactively to January 1993 before his inauguration (A raise avoided by Hillary who must have known his plans and took her Rose Law Firm bonus before January 1, 1993). The GOP Congress forced him to sign welfare reform after he vetoed it, Free Trade Act ditto.

    Unfortunately, after Gingrich was forced out with ethics complaints, Hastert reverted to his Illinois corrupt self and reform ended.

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