April 06, 2008

An Observation About Dangerous Old Men (and Women)

I'll bet that John McCain will be the last person ever nominated for president by either one of the major parties that will have served in Vietnam. In fact, he may be the last person who served we get to vote for in either party for president for the next four or five elections. I started thinking about this after reading this grim Grim post (via Instapundit). You will need to read that post for this to make much sense. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Of the Democrats who either ran this year, considered running this year, or might otherwise be considered, Al Gore, James Webb, John Kerry and Wesley Clark served in Vietnam. Of these, only James Webb can be taken seriously as a potential nominee, but I don't think his hawkish credentials will appeal to the Democrat's base and he's burned his bridges with Republicans. Amazingly, of all the remaining Democrats on the horizon I can think of only Mike Gravel has ever served in the military. This represents a major cultural shift from, say, the 1970's or 1980's. Oh, and claiming to have suddenly remembered that thirty years ago you maybe wanted to consider the possibility of perhaps examining the feasibility of joining the military doesn't help matters much.

Of the Republicans who either ran this year, considered running this year, or might otherwise be considered, aside from John McCain, Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter served in Vietnam but neither of them are ever going to be nominated for President. Even more amazingly, there are no other Republicans on the horizon I can think of who have ever served in the military. This represents a major cultural shift from, say, ever.

The only wild card exluded from this analysis is General David Petraeus. I don't know if he is a Republican or a Democrat. Hard to imagine the Democrats and their thousand little tribes of activists embracing him. Almost as hard to imagine the Republicans embracing him, though for entirely different reasons. The cultural shifts alluded to above are going to continue to make it more and more difficult for someone to come out of the armed services and get nominated or elected to the highest office in the land. Our politicians are as much a reflection of society as vice versa. Honestly, it makes me almost wish we would reinstitute the draft. Otherwise, the folks in uniform and the ethos they represent are going to continue to be further and further marginalized in the halls of power and Big Media.

I find this a little troubling. Not that a a president has to have served, but that no one running for the office for perhaps the next twenty years is likely to have served. "Speak softly and carry a big stick" may be kind of hard to understand, debate and articulate through policy when no one competing for the top job has ever bothered to pick up a stick.

DOWNDATE: Another Instalanche. Thank you sir.

Posted by Charles Austin at April 6, 2008 11:19 PM
Comments

Things can change pretty quickly. Who ever thought of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate 8 years ago?

Posted by: Tartan69 at 09:28 AM

It's not that unusual to go for long stretches with Presidents that have had no military service. After Teddy Roosevelt left office the next President to have served in the military was Harry Truman.

You get stretches of military presidents after a major war that involve much of the nation's manpower, most notably the periods following the American Civil War and WWII. Conflicts involving a fraction of the population (War of 1812, Mexican-American, or more recently Gulf War and GWOT) rarely get more than one or two of their veterans elected President, and usually those representatives are victorious generals (Jackson, Harrison, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.)

Posted by: Mark L at 09:32 AM

Who ever thought of Barack Obama as a presidential candidate 8 years ago?

Barack Obama did.

:-)

Posted by: Sterling at 09:42 AM

I wonít ever vote for a President who has not served in our nationís military because 1) if you want the power to send our troops into battle, you had damned-well have been willing to go yourself, and 2) there is no more honorable or selfless calling than that of military service to your nation.

Posted by: Robbie at 10:20 AM

Well there are Iraq war vets who are starting to run for Congressional seats in the house. It won't be long before you have State reps,governors, who are WOT veterans. If the RNC is smart they will mentor the best of them.

Posted by: toad at 10:40 AM

Mark- FDR was Asst. Secretary of the Navy during WWI IIRC. Just a quibble but I think that counts as military service, of a sort.

Posted by: Barry Caro at 11:32 AM

"Mark- FDR was Asst. Secretary of the Navy during WWI IIRC. Just a quibble but I think that counts as military service, of a sort.
Posted by: Barry Caro at 11:32 AM"

NO, it definitely does not count as military service. That is the whole thing about civilian leadership.

Here is the real difference. If you are in the military and you decide to quit you're declared a deserter and if caught can be courts martialed and sent to the brig. If you are the Secretary of the Navy you write a letter, shake the president's hand and leave to make big bucks. Seems like a big difference to me. Also, there is that the distinction that one job can involve being told to go somewhere where they might shoot at you and the other does not.

Posted by: largebill at 12:44 PM

"Mark- FDR was Asst. Secretary of the Navy during WWI IIRC. Just a quibble but I think that counts as military service, of a sort.
Posted by: Barry Caro at 11:32 AM"

What a perfect example of what this article worries about. No veteran would confuse a civilian job with a military one.

Expect even more of the same in the future.

Posted by: wlpeak at 01:54 PM