I'm Right Again Dot Com

                             A new commentary every Wednesday — April 20, 2016


    Where are all the Generals? I am unable to confirm if either party's front-runners even made it to Second-Class Boy Scout—or even Tenderfoot.  Americans like to elect military leaders; Presidents Washington, Taylor, Hays, Jackson, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Include Torpedo Boat Commander John Kennedy and Torpedo plane pilot George H.W. Bush. Kennedy and Bush the Elder came very close to losing their lives in the Pacific Ocean during the conflict with Japan.

    Harry Truman was a Captain of Artillery in World War I and was cited for the aggressive action he took in rallying his battery and preventing a German breakthrough in the Argonne engagement in France.

     Despite how Mr. Trump feels about it, Senator John McCain is a bona fide Hero First Class of the Vietnam War. The son and grandson of Admirals, the senior Arizona Senator reached the rank of Captain while a naval pilot and prisoner of the North Vietnamese Communist regime. His former running mate, Mrs. Palin, the darling of the Tea Party, is pulling for Mr. Trump. What a surprise!  If elected, perhaps he can consider her for the post of Ambassador to Siberia, for she says she can see it from her front porch. Well, practically. 

     We have to go back to the earliest days to find a succession of  truly high ranking hero-presidents. Major General Zachary Taylor's record begins with the War of 1812. He was a Brigadier General in the Mexican-American War, as was Franklin Pierce.  Ulysses S. Grant began his service in the Mexican-American war after graduating from West Point  He served there under General Robert E. Lee of Virginia, the South's most beloved military hero, who never chose to run for public office. When Lee surrendered his tattered troops at Appomattox, he said he could not recall Grant's having served under him.

    Andrew Johnson was a Brigadier General in the Union Army and the Military Governor of Tennessee during the Civil War. More Presidents fought in that conflict than any other. Major General Rutherford B. Hayes also did.  One Union General who was fired by Republican President Abraham Lincoln for his forever unwillingness to attack Lee's Rebel forces, was George McClellan. He was nominated by the Democrats and ran against Lincoln when Abe's final term in office was up for grabs... and lost.  Incidentally, Lincoln's military service wasn't much to brag about: three months in the Blackhawk war of 1832.

     President James Polk never made it past colonel in the Army, and neither did Teddy Roosevelt. Harry Truman was mustered out, still a captain, at the conclusion of "the war to end all wars," in 1918. 

    Very few of modern era's office holders have served in the military. Hubert Humphrey served in WWII, as did a heroic former Senator and Republican presidential nominee, Bob Dole. Lyndon Johnson received a medal for taking an observation flight over Japanese installations in the Pacific, long before he became President. Senator Lindsay Graham (R) of South Carolina is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), a two-time presidential aspirant, flew peacetime missions for the Air Force in Africa and Central America. Jimmie Carter served on Nuclear subs—and George W. Bush, the younger, served as a pilot in  the Air Force Reserve, sort-of. And that's about it.

    With all all of the opportunities for military service available in recent years, it's amazing that so many candidates hoping to be Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces suffered physical frailties or sought deferments that  prevented them from experiencing any military service whatsoever for our Country. Next election, we need to send in some generals.

    There is one great general in the modern era that I would have voted for if he had chosen to run on any ticket, and that's Colin Powell.

 -Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Menchen


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