The Other McCain

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

Trump vs. Boorda

Posted on | January 9, 2021 | Comments Off on Trump vs. Boorda

by Smitty

The Trump Administration has always seemed something of a barbarian flick. The hero enters the lair of the Great Wyrm, sinks some impressive cutlery into the monstrous head, and then tries not to die during the death thrashings of the beast. While our government may be a Great Wyrm, it’s certainly not living in any sense that an individual actor could fell it. It survived Obama, after all.

None of this post diminishes the glaringly obvious reality that 03Nov2020 was not a straight election. No amount of Orwellian cologne can get that dirty diaper to pass the smell test. Every little homo bureaucratus weenie at every level that rubber-stamped that steamer shall live in infamy. Lookin’ at you, Vice President Warmspitbucket. Little side-eye for SCOTUS, too: may it not prove the case that you’re shining the bright work on the Constitutional Titanic’s bridge as she converts to a submarine. And a ship’s a she, Princess Pelosi.

Yet, the tragedy of Admiral Mike Boorda came to mind lately, and may offer some insight into what’s gone on. Briefly, Boorda was a senior Petty Officer who took a commission and rocketed through the commissioned ranks, becoming the Chief of Naval Operations by the time I was ejecting from Sing Sing on the Severn (USNA). He always loved the Navy, deeply, as a large extended family. In 1996, a Newsweek reporter questioned the Combat “V” on his Vietnam-era Navy Achievement Medal, and he fatally shot himself.

There was a long New Yorker piece which I read with fascination. Boorda, apparently loved to tout his enlisted bona fides in front of the sailors, and chide officers as not knowing what’s really going on. He also liked to be the “Guy With The Magic Wand Who Fixes Stuff”.

According to the New Yorker, that reached a crescendo with a female aviation candidate who could not get through flight school, and had been set back at pretty much every stage of the training pipeline, but always managed to remediate, or get a pass, or whatever. Couldn’t answer a question on an oral board, always offered voluminous information talking around the answer without producing it.
Finally, her last appeal for pilot’s wings is with the Gray Eagle, the senior aviator of the Navy. He had the hard conversation with the Lieutenant, thanked her for her interest in Naval Aviation, but told her that she fell short of meeting requirements and would not continue as an aviator.

Not taking “No” from the Gray Eagle as an answer, she appealed to Boorda. Who blew it, and brought her on as an aide while he tried to “sort out” the whole situation. Being Mr. Fixit is one thing. Crapping on the Grey Eagle is another. The counter-crapfest saw the Navy flag officers close ranks and do an about-face on Boorda, not speaking to him personally, barbecuing on the weekends, calling him up, etc. If Boorda was the extrovert he sounded, this was a recipe for a deep depression. Also, the Navy was pretty much who he was, and that career was ending in his mid-50s. It’s unclear what he’d’ve done had he gone on.

This summary is corroborated by my own experience. I was an enlisted sailor, a little bit-chaser on a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, who took the commission. Boorda went from E-6 to O-9. I went E-4 to O-4. My excuse is that I “got caught telling the truth too much”, but a less flip point is that enlisted/commissioned is the same dichotomy as workers and managers. People get it done, or manage the getting it done. It’s cognitively challenging for most people to flip back and forth, and this point was hard for me to grasp.

As an Ensign serving in USS McClusky (FFG 47) , there was a Boorda anecdote that echoed the New Yorker piece, which I have second-hand, having predated my tour by a couple of years. He held an Admiral’s Call on the flight deck, and asked if anyone had any questions. A Torpedoman’s Mate, Seaman (TMSN) raised his hand and allowed that his chain of command wouldn’t let him take the advancement examination for Petty Officer Third Class. In phrasing it pejoratively, this young sailor stabbed his Chief, Division Officer, Department Head, Executive Officer, and Commanding Officer. Simultaneously. #GreatWork. Boorda sought no context for why this was the case (I gathered there were legitimate reasons beside the victimology on offer), and he got into Magic Wand mode, saying something like “You’ve got that exam, and you owe me a letter telling me how it went.” The body language was that Boorda was here for the sailors, and the officers were so much necessary baggage. On their better days.

Which brings to the swampy vistas of Donald Trump vs. The Great Wyrm. The shrill cries of “populism” have never made much sense, because, other than disdain for the elite, what is it? Recalling the tragedy of Boorda, if Populism means fancying the workers to the complete disregard of the management, then we may be able to understand something of the Deep State’s reaction to all of that brandished steel.

The Deep State is that management community, like that frigate wardroom that Boorda disdained. It is corrupt, as has been demonstrated at length and in detail, especially at the top. But it also has a vast swath of sincere, patriotic professionals. Trump had the annoying habit of being quite correct on many of his calls, e.g. the Jerusalem Embassy, peace overtures with the Norks, &c, but he did it at the expense of alienating much of the establishment. Whether or not that was needful or avoidable is ambiguous, but, if you’re in charge, you chop them all off at the ankle at your peril.

Where it comes to a head is in the context of an election that reeks to high heaven. Suddenly, Trump wants the organizations that he’s ravaged these years to come to his rescue. However, bureaucracy favors excuses over results. As long as there is some rule, precedent, or other organization at which to point, all you get is a shrug. Confronted with actual facts, a recent innovation has been to ignore the facts. For all the hue and cry about the sacredness of whistleblowers, blowing the whistle is typically targeting information. Just remember that bureaucracy is the antithesis of courage.

Nothing of this post should be seen as excusing what’s gone on. We’ve seen increasingly that rules exist to punish those retaining any sense of our Western culture in the face of the Orwellian collapse. Bureaucracy is plural, and courage is a singular function.

Nor am I blaming Trump. I think he’s done a needful job of exposing the state of our polity. If anything, it’s been this bad for quite a while, and he’s had a catalytic effect on getting us a point of recognition. Also, Trump isn’t superhuman: there may have been some management approach that could break through the neo-Con GroupThink of our foreign policy, but could that same personality have thrived in the mainstream media thunder dome?

On the balance, I’m pro-Trump. Trump has reflected to the elite the contempt that the elite reflect toward the populace. The truth is that we need to shrink the elite both in numbers and hat sizes by having fewer, simpler, more distributed institutions. Whatever requirement we may have had for all of the non-Enumerated Powers functions taken on at the federal level has passed.

This is posted as we seem to have gotten past the idea of a second Trump term, but still I sense another plot twist or two pending. As the Sanhedrin anoints President Barabbas, will there be a political crucifixion, I mean, impeachment, for the other guy? On what basis? Do the Woke need a basis? For anything? This is tantamount to Congress deciding to impose a one-term limit on an individual, isn’t it? Let’s terminate the rest of Congress at the end of their current terms, say I. Even the few I fancy. Cashier the lot. Do us a world of good.

Summarizing, two tendencies to minimize in our system are:

  • worship of the state
  • worship of individual figures

Bringing in outsiders to shake things up is something we should do regularly. But a more gentle hand with the staff at hand may prove beneficial, whether you’re Trump or Boorda.


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