In writing this, I think of a remark by Charles Krauthammer. First I must apologize, I do not have a direct quote and my details are scant about the conversation. I should explain why this is so. I watched Mr. Krauthammer when he was on the panel of Brit Hume’s Special Report. He made a remark, which I will get to in a moment, that I found interesting. At the time though I did not give a lot of thought to it other than it was subtly accurate. Now fast forward to me mowing my lawn. Be patient, there is a point here. I mow approximately 2 – 2.5 acres so I use a riding mower. If you have never done this, it is not very exciting. I spend a lot of time thinking and going around and around. Sometimes my thoughts are simple but sometimes I do some real deep thinking while riding in circles. It is this internal musing that brought this article about so forgive me if my details on the actual conversation are bare, it is my insight that I am actually writing about.
So after that, on to the quote, paraphrased. Like I said they were discussing Obama and his qualifications. Mr. Krauthammer in his dry delivery said that Obama was the single most unqualified candidate for Commander in Chief ever to run. This drew a rebuke from one of the moderate members of the panel and the remark died there. Further it would be easy to dismiss this as hyperbole. These types of remarks are thrown around freely in elections and are just as easily dismissed. Now back to the mower. I’m riding around in circles and I think of this remark. I wonder, is it just an extreme remark during an election or is there some truth to it?
This got me thinking about previous Presidents and their qualifications while running for office. Without doing a dissertation on Presidential history, I decided to look at the second half of the 20th century. In fact, excluding Bill Clinton, you have to go back to Franklin Roosevelt to find a President with no military experience whatsoever before entering office. Since Roosevelt, we have had:
-Harry Truman served in WWI as an artillery officer and served for one year as Vice President to Roosevelt during WWII before assuming the Presidency upon Roosevelt’s death.
-Dwight Eisenhower was General of the Army during World War II and possibly one of the most qualified Presidents to be Commander in Chief.
-John F Kennedy had his PT boat sunk during WWII and helped rescue the survivors.
-Lyndon Johnson served in the Navy as an officer in WWII earning the Silver Star.
-Richard Nixon also a Naval officer in WWII
-Gerald Ford, though not elected, was the 38th President of the US. He also was a Naval officer in WWII.
-Jimmy Carter, again a Naval officer for seven years.
-Ronald Reagan was an officer in the Army stateside during WWII and, as Governor of California, oversaw the National Guard.
-George H W Bush was a naval fighter pilot in WWII and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
-Bill Clinton, did not serve in the military and was actually a draft dodger. With all of this though, he did oversee the National Guard as Governor of Arkansas.
-George W Bush. There has been some discussion over his role as fighter pilot in the Air National Guard. Oversaw Texas National Guard as Governor of Texas.
This brings us to the present election. On one hand we have John McCain, fighter pilot in the Vietnam War. Shot down and spent six years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton being tortured. On the other hand we have Barack Obama who…
He has absolutely zero experience in anything that would make him qualified to be Commander in Chief. No military experience, has not been a Governor, he has though played basketball with the troops in a war zone. His closest claim to experience is as a member, not chairman, of three Senate committees, Foreign Relations, Veteran’s Affairs, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. It is hard to call three years on these committees a qualifier for Commander in Chief. Further, while the previous two presidents had limited experience, the job of Commander in Chief is too important to have on the job training. Bill Clinton was a dismal failure in his role. Troop morale suffered, the strength of the military was undercut, and Clinton was, ahem distracted, while terrorists ran amok during his administration. George Bush had better success although he could have done a considerably better job managing the Iraq War. Which reinforces the case that it is not one to be undertaken by someone without experience.
Obama’s refusal to admit that the surge in Iraq has helped quell violence in that country, even though the view is shared by most other analysts, speaks to a lack of understanding of events on the ground there. His insistence that Iraq is not the central focus in the war on terror is naïve. While it could be argued that it was not originally the front on the war on terror, completely dismissing it considering this is where we are fighting al qaeda, gives the impression that he really does not grasp the fight against terrorism. Finally, we are not comforted by Obama’s recent clumsy cancellation of his visit to wounded troops in Germany. While we are outraged by this, it is more important than just his disdain for the troops. Being Commander in Chief is not just understanding military theory, a President has advisors and the Pentagon for this, it is maintaining troop morale. This is something that Obama really doesn’t seem to get. For Obama troops are photo backdrop when he needs them and somewhat of an embarrassment when talking to his far left friends.
Perhaps being a junior Senator is something that can be done with on the job training. Being the Commander in Chief of the world’s most powerful military at a time in history when the United States faces so much danger from abroad requires someone who can do the job the day they take office. Learning on the job in this position doesn’t risk making bad laws, it risks the lives of American citizens and the men and women of the military. For this reason we need to think about the words of Mr. Krauthammer and take them to heart when voting this November. Being the first new President elected after 9/11, we know now more than ever that this is a job in which those with experience need not apply.