Who Are The Commissioners? (rereun, with updates)

If you read English naval history, you are sure to run into a reference to The Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral.  Your first reaction is likely to be something like WTF?  Why couldn’t the Lord High Admiral execute the duties of his own office?  Lazy, much?

The way it worked, as I understand it, was like this:

Some of the time, there was no Lord High Admiral.  Hence, it was the duty of the Commissioners to do what a Lord High Admiral would/should have done if such an individual had existed.

At other times, there was indeed a Lord High Admiral, but his role was purely ceremonial, and the Commissioners were the ones who actually performed the duties of the office.

And at still other times, there was indeed a Lord High Admiral who did the admiral-type work.  I’m not sure whether in these cases, the Commissioners were still there to serve as assistants, or whether the Commission was temporarily suspended during the tenure of such admirals.

It strikes me that there is a certain parallel with the current situation in the US vis-a-vis Joe Biden.  One key difference being that the English people knew  who the Commissioners of the Admiralty were.  Yet while it has long been clear that Biden is getting a significant degree of direction and  ‘help’  in executing the duties of his office, we in America today don’t have a good understanding of who these helpers/directors might be.  This question has become increasingly pressing over he last couple of  weeks.

I don’t think there’s anything like a formal “cabal” for telling Joe Biden what to do.  Much more likely, we have a loosely-coupled set of influencers, with power even greater–much greater–than typical of a president’s inner circle.  Who are these people?  Barack Obama, certainly, and many members of the Obama administration: there is some truth to the statement that the Biden administration has really been the third Obama administration.  Doctor Jill Biden, playing the role of Edith Wilson. Ron Klain. Susan Rice. We can only guess who else, because the influencers are not a formal organization from whom transparency can be demanded. It is clear also that Biden is greatly influenced by prominent media figures and academics–clearly, he believes that it is very important to stand in well with the Ivy League:

Lemme tell you something Mr. Biden says, with a clenched jaw.  There’s a river of power that flows through this country.  Some people, most people, don’t even know the river is there. But it’s there. Some people know about the river, but they can’t get in, they only stand at the edge. And some people, a few, get to swim in the river. All the time. They get to swim their whole lives, in the river of power. And that river flows from the Ivy League.

Like many social climbers, Biden also cares a lot about what “Europeans” think.

Another major difference between our present situation and that of the administration of the Royal Navy:  Although the damage that the Commissioners of the Admiralty could do though mistaken decisions was quite substantial: “ships sunk, sailors lost, colonial possessions lost, possibly in the worst case an invasion of England itself,” there was no danger that a bad decision on their part would destroy the entire world.  That is not the case with the potential damage that could be done by bad advice from our present  “Commissioners.”

Last October marked the 60st anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  It is now pretty clear that, despite the previous claims of some of the involved individuals, JFK stood almost alone against the advice of his advisors, including his brother Bobby, who insisted on air strikes and/or an invasion of Cuba. (See The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory, by Sheldon Stern, which makes extensive use of the now-declassified secret White House recordings.)  It is also pretty clear that the advisor-recommended reactions would have led to a very bad outcome, quite possibly including general nuclear war.

What are the odds that Biden would stand strongly against the almost-unanimous view of his advisors in a similar situation? I’d say it is pretty low.

Regarding the influence of Obama, @wretchardthecat wrote at X:

Like the dead hand of an ancient curse, Obama‘s vision, based on a now vanished world, will wreak a path of ruin until it finally collapses on the shambles of all it sought to transform…The once unipolar world is fractured — and is still fracturing — along two lines: the line of Great Powers, Russia, the West and China; and the line of civilizations, Islam and the West. Biden, now over 80, cannot hope to retrieve things in an Obama fourth term…

In less than two years, Biden and his “Commissioners” have done tremendous damage to the United States and the world.  It is hard to imagine that any future Democratic administration would not also be heavily subject to the influence of Obama and the other “commissioners” I mentioned above, leaving aside only Doctor Jill Biden.  The best hope of minimizing this damage lies in the potential for a Republican House and Republican Senate. True, many of the candidates are not what we would wish. But the best is the enemy of the good, and the issue of the moment is not establishing ideal policies but rather avoiding multiple catastrophes.

7/9/2024:  The events of the last two weeks make clear just how powerful the continuing influence of major media continues to be.  These people knew, or could have easily learned, the true situation with Biden, but they chose not to report it.  So most people, including those who think of themselves are “well-informed,” continued to be unaware of it.


See also:  Commissioner Doctor Jill Biden

9 thoughts on “Who Are The Commissioners? (rereun, with updates)”

  1. Could Trump make a claim that Biden is non compos mentis, has been so for some time, could not understand what he was signing and therefore all official acts of the Biden presidency are null and void?

  2. “The best hope of minimizing this damage lies in the potential for a Republican House and Republican Senate.”

    If that is our best hope, the situation really is dire! The last time we had a Republicrat-controlled House and Senate — and President Trump in the White House — the Institutional Republicrats blew it big time. They could not even “Build The Wall”, let alone begin to roll back excessive regulation and put the country on the long road to eliminating the unsustainable Trade Deficit and the equally unsustainable Budget Deficit.

    If the Institutionals are restored to power on President Trump’s coat-tails for a second time, we cannot expect any better performance from them. “Democracy” has failed, and the weakest link in the chain was Congress — which was supposed to be the most representative branch of government. The horrible thought is … maybe Congress really is representative of We the People?

  3. Could Trump make a claim that Biden is non compos mentis, has been so for some time, could not understand what he was signing and therefore all official acts of the Biden presidency are null and void?

    Of course he can. He can also call spirits from the vasty deep. The question is, will they come when he calls to them- and can he make that assertion stick?

    I suspect he should try, for roughly the same reason Lincoln should have and did attempt to resupply Fort Sumter- to goad modern equivalent of the Slavocracy into doing something as politically idiotic.

    The hordes of leftist morons are already frothing at the mouth because the Supreme Court has noticed that the President has immunity for official acts- something no one doubted before Trump.

    Trump asserting that the lawless decrees from cabal that installed the still-breathing carcass of an evil man as President are invalid- well, that would be epic.

  4. It strikes me that there is a certain parallel with the current situation in the US vis-a-vis Joe Biden.

    I would disagree. Sovereignty in England resided with the Crown. How the sovereign arranged to manage the Royal Navy didn’t call into question the legal structure of the kingdom.

    Having a senile figurehead as our head of a state is a very different matter from a hazy and informal organization of the Royal Navy’s leadership.

    It’s the difference between obeying a lawful order from legitimate authority and being expected to obey orders from people who have found a box of envelopes with the White House letterhead.

  5. As far as the media it’s even worse than that. I was reading during the last campaign and those 50 “intelligence experts” that opined that the laptop was “Russian disinformation”.

    Several of them still had security clearances and could’ve asked the CIA but did not. they did not want to know. The media did not want to know.

    All that originated from Anthony Blinken who is now the secretary of state

    And the only reason they’re ganging up on Joe Biden is because they feel now Trump can win.

    Take a hypothetical situation where Biden decides to bow out – which I don’t think will happen – and the new candidate will I’m sure get the full cooperation of the Washington beltway once again

    I like watching Megyn Kelley on YouTube and SiriusXM. She was saying she was talking with a friend who regularly votes Democratic. And she told her audience that the friend, while distressed about Biden, was still content in the way things were being run by what you call “the committee”.

    Now there is a scary thought -a huge block of Americans still happy that the country is being run by some unknown committee.

  6. I’m reminded of Truman’s quote regarding Eisenhower before the latter’s inauguration, ““He’ll sit here and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike—it won’t be a bit like the Army.” There are plenty of stories of people with immense official power, monarchs of old and popes come to mind, but are constrained and strangled by the permanent bureaucracy

    Biden is of course different because he is incapable by not only temperament and competence, but now of health of being an effective chief executive. The massive bureaucracy in the West Wing, rather than work as an extension of the chief executive to effect the bureaucracy, becomes a way of fending off how power is actually wielded. All power in the executive branch flows from the president, but if that person is effectively neutered then the various factions can wield power in his name but for their own interest(s). That’s why Biden was selected in March, 2020. His inability to exert influence isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

    Never discount the power of the media. People downplay its influence because they only see how far it has fallen and not what actual influence it still wields. It still has the power to set the agenda, in fact that power is second to that of the presidency (see above) It chooses what to talk about, what to shine a spotlight, and is complicit in determining the outer bounds of the Overton Window.

    We’;; see starting next week at the Republican Convention how he plans to exploit not only the crisis with the Democrats and Biden, but that in the media as well. It’s a four month sprint to the finish, they are not only your mortal enemy but they are very exposed. Time for Trump to rile things up

    David Harsanyi has an excellent piece on the culpability of the media regarding Biden.

  7. A few weeks ago, some of Our President’s defenders on “progressive” talk radio argued that his “I’m going to get into trouble” remarks were teasing his staff, who were simply doing their job, keeping their principal on time and on mission, as would be necessary for any senior executive.

    That’s now expanded to “the Commissioners, er, staff, are an essential part of the Executive.” Yes, and in addition to David Foster’s fears that the current president is in no shape to take a stand against a consensus even though that might prove to be the proper course, the very construction of a team of rivals among the departmental secretaries and the senior advisors ensures that there will be bickering, and the current president might have moments where he is incapable of saying “No more bickering!” (That was more authoritative in the original Japanese in Tora! Tora! Tora!.)

    Something more comes up, might be of greater interest to serious students of comparative politics. I recall something from a comparative politics discussion section, 50 years ago, to the effect that although people voted, indirectly or not, for Richard Nixon, Milton Friedman (yes, I know, not an official academic advisor) was not on the ballot, and people were therefore involved in an incomplete democracy, as presidents but not the departmental secretaries were on the ballot. That’s getting deeper into poli sci weeds than I want to go. I hope, though, that somebody advising the Trump campaign will call attention to the way the Democrats with an assist from the establishment press and the social media companies sold Old Joe as some sort of moderate Democrat, something that proved early on in the administration not to be the case.

    There’s likely to be a dissertation or two on whether those voters who, when polled, claim they would have voted differently had they known the truth about the Hunter laptop, were really motivated to do so because of the way that administration opened the borders and closed the pipelines. That was Strike One. The truth about the laptop is a convenient Strike Two. The revelation of the basement strategy as something other than a prudent pandemic prophylactic could be Strike Three.

  8. If you want better advisors, vote for a better president. Can anyone name even one of Biden’s that isn’t a complete disaster? Reason enough to kick him to the curb.

    Not that Trump isn’t sorely challenged in that department.

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