The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

In Which No Less Than Peggy Noonan Wrings A Confession From Me

Posted on | January 8, 2011 | 15 Comments

by Smitty

While not having time to write much of anything, I am driven to confess: I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Peggy Noonan.

True, I was never a Commanding Officer like Captain Honors, but, nevertheless, if I am to be shriven of sins and become a whole citizen in her eyes, then I must lay bare all of the evil in the fetid swamp of my soul.

You see, I have served in a warship or two in times past, and held various jobs, among them the coveted post of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Officer, in which post I undertook dark deeds for which I have paid an endless psychic toll. Perhaps this blog post can exorcise my demons.

And so it was, while needing to raise funds for the MWR account, which funds were used to pay for crew outings, media equipment for the crew’s mess, uniforms for the ship’s basketball team, &c, I made what was tantamount to a pact with the devil in my desperation to replenish the fisc: I ran a beard growing contest.

[organ music]

Oh, and that ship left port on her voyage, and the crew did slide into the very depths of barbaric, pre-Lehman debauchery. Never mind the fact that everyone did their jobs, stood their watches, performed their drills, oh no: this was a Mephistophelian fanfare of fiendish follicles, and I was the ringleader! I even took money from the contestants!

In a stunning departure from Political Correctness, that crew wallowed in a testosterone-driven display, reveling in their manly beard-growing prowess. From the simplest Fu Manchu to the bare-cheeked goatee to the full-on ZZ Top beard, we cultivated those facial plains in the most chaotic, shocking display imaginable, worse even than Joe Biden with a couple beers in him.

Leadership? Decency? Civilization? Nuance? All gone, gone, gone.

Oh, we should have known better. The lewdness. The chaos. The damage to the abstract psychological purity of the country! But I needed the money. Sure, as in the Honors affair, no one picked up on any of the various phone numbers, email addresses, or various offices that handle grievances to report our lewd and offensive behavior at the time.

Since I never made enemies of a magnitude to merit ratting me out to the press, where my grievous shortcomings and abject non-grasp of the Noonan Leadership Ideal could be laid bare for the world, I’ll have to do it myself.

Oh Peggy, you are so correct:

To say the obvious, John Paul Jones, Bull Halsey and Elmo Zumwalt likely wouldn’t have made those videos, if they could have. More to the point, some average, undistinguished naval captain in 1968 wouldn’t have made them either, because he would have had his mind and consciousness formed in the 1930s and ’40s, when our culture was more coherent and constructive. It can also be said that Capt. Honors’s videos were not extreme by the standards of our day.

What absurd speculation, Peggy! Do a bit of reading:

  • Jones, who was a right scrappy bastard, and would have likely made a good fighter pilot, like Honors. Not to say that he was a party animal, but (they say) he’s currently swimming in brandy at the Naval Academy.
  • Bull Halsey?

    Vice Admiral Halsey was at sea in his flagship, USS Enterprise, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Upon learning of the Japanese attack, he was rumored to have remarked, “Before we’re through with ’em, the Japanese language will only be spoken in hell.”

    Possibly apocryphal, but let’s be clear, Peggy, as you read his bio: he was more of a taurus bull than mere bull-[suffixed by one of your columns].

  • As for Zumwalt, I actually saw him when he reviewed a USNA parade. From a distance, I recall some of the most raging eyebrows I’d ever seen on a man. And if you really think that those were the only wild hairs on his body. . .yes, of course you do.

Simply put, Peggy, you know jack-all about Jones, Halsey, Zumwalt, leadership, the military, and what we should do in the case of Honors. He’s a great litmus test; anyone in an authority position who thinks that cashiering him was a good idea should, instead, be cashiered.
Salon, in a takes-a-clown-to-know-one moment, pegged you so beautifully:

Her recurring theme is a return to the innocence and purity of the past. Specifically the “Mad Men” era, or just before it. She allows herself Camelot-worship (as Reagan did), but it’s Eisenhower she pines for.

Peggy, just stick to writing about Reagan, please.

At any rate, the beard growing contest progressed for several weeks, and then we had a barbecue on ‘steel beach’, filled with the most unwholesome, unrefined foodstuffs imaginable. We judged the beards on a variety of criteria. We had the temerity to pick winners, which meant that, yes, there were losers.

And then we shaved, pulled into port, and, well, the rest is even less worthy of publication.  In my defense, I have since stopped drinking.


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