Fit to Command - What's Your Opinion?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by rawbone8, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. rawbone8

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    from

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2006/02/22/keillor/index_np.html

    Fit to command

    The U.S. should require that presidential candidates have military experience.

    By Garrison Keillor

    Feb. 22, 2006 | It's been four years since Richard Reid attempted to set fire to his explosive shoes on that Paris-Miami flight, and thanks to him we still do our little dance in stocking feet through airport security, a testimony to the power of the individual to gum up the works for millions of others. Eventually somebody will attempt to scoot through with an underwear bomb, and then we'll be arriving at the airport three hours before departure so we can be inspected by crotch-sniffing dogs.

    An individual has vast power to do mischief, which is why our parents inoculated us against narcissism. "Spoiled" was a strong pejorative. When it was applied to us, it stung. And so you went through many little experiences that taught you not to think that the world revolves around you.

    Small horrific experiences like taking a shower in gym class in seventh grade, when you shed your skivvies and stepped bare naked into a shower room with 30 other boys, moist pink flesh under a showerhead, soaping up, rinsing, getting the heck out and into your clothes. A democratic moment. There were many of them.

    Of course the great experience that most of us missed out on is the American military, a baseline experience for my dad's generation, the kick in the pants that propels the dreamy adolescent into responsible adulthood. I don't apologize for dodging the draft in the Vietnam years — there is a time and place for cowardice -- but there was a price to be paid for it: A dreaminess persisted that some sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood might have adjusted.

    I met a West Point cadet once, and in her I could see what I'd missed out on, a keenness of focus, a great sense of poise. She embodied the word "capable." I would've followed her into a burning building. Had she skipped the Army and swanned around amongst the perpetual adolescents, she might have missed out on her life entirely.

    Whenever I meet military men and women, I'm struck by their bearing and temperament. I sit down to dinner with a Marine captain just back from Iraq and immediately feel a little childish in his presence, though he's 30 years younger. He is friendly, polite and tremendously focused. What might appear at a distance to be rigidity is really heightened attentiveness. Everything he says is appropriate and precise. When you ask about his experience in Iraq, he tells you, without spinning the story. He is no tin soldier, no flag waver. There's no bombast in him. Like dancers, or pilots, or violinists, or lion tamers, he is a man trained to operate consistently at a high level of attention.

    As you see the price to be paid for flabbiness and immaturity and narcissism and bad manners and lousy grammar, you appreciate the military more and you ponder the consequences of its isolation in American life. Fewer and fewer of our leaders have military service in their résumés. They prefer to sweep blithely along from one comfy perch to the next, cushioned in self-regard, promoting, puffing, spinning, hitting their talking points, building their skill sets. They slip into public office without ever having been yelled at by a bullet-headed black man with sergeant's stripes and made to stand up straight in 95-degree weather and march back and forth across a dusty field and not ask why. This is a shame.

    The way to put military service back in the picture is to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that a candidate for president have at least two years of full-time military service. It would be a boon to the country, to the military and to the young. It would confirm the importance of service. The 42-year-old governor who discovers that he wants to be president would need to go down to the recruiting office and enlist. It'd be a big moment, like when Elvis went off to basic training. Think of Newt Gingrich climbing on a bus and going off to have his head shaved and his individuality taken away and rebuilt.

    The Constitution requires the president to be at least 35 and a native-born American. The current president certainly casts doubt on the worth of that native-born requirement, but never mind — amend the Constitution and let the boys and girls of Harvard and Stanford and Yale ponder their future. You will see the Army become more representative of the country, more middle-class and educated, and when it is, it will not likely be sent so casually off to war as the blue-collar Army has been.
     
  2. curious n str8

    curious n str8 New Member

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    Why stop at just the President, Rawbone... I have always thought that every US HS educated student serve some sort of miltiary training...not a draft mind you but manadtory service. I know that I sure would have beafitted from it.:drillsergeant: I recently had the pleasure of talking to a relaitive's daughter of whom I talked too befor but now she has much more confadence and poise. She was really excited and now I'm a bit intreged to see how the Marines will influnace my Nephew who just enlisted and goes to boot camp this summer. I know im gonna get :crucified: for this post but :261: :usa2: too our ppl in the Mitiltary God Bless them one and all.
     
  3. brainzz_n_dong

    brainzz_n_dong New Member

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    As a college student seriously debating whether to join the military after my graduation (2-3 yrs down the road), I look very favorably upon the concept. Some of the personal qualities Keillor discusses in the article, and attributes to service in the military, sure could be used in greater quantity in today's world (ESPECIALLY in the world of politics).

    I guess the flip side of the argument is to remember that every President from FDR (asst secy of the Navy in WWI) through G.W. Bush, with the exception of Bill Clinton, has some sort of military service on his resume. From that list, people will pick Presidents they admire (FDR, Truman, Reagan) and those they don't admire (Carter, Nixon, Johnson, G.W. Bush). Does their service in the military somehow explain why they're admired or not? Too late tonight to even go there, just bringing it up. Also, many of you that post here admire Bill Clinton and he never served in the armed forces, so...?

    I guess I'd boil it down and say that while military service can't begin to guarantee we'll have a better grade of President, it sure might help forge a better human being that would run for it.

    And to add to what Curious said, God Bless those serving and may they make it home safe and sound.
     
  4. Matthew

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    I vote no, not necessary.
     
  5. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Just a simple comment from a humble hung guy: I doubt seriously that the founding fathers would have included military training as a requirement for presiding over the Executive Branch any more than they'd require a royal bloodline.
     
  6. Chuck64

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    #1 - You'll be lucky to get a member of congress to scribble this down on a napkin much less drop it in the hopper and nurse it through the process.

    #2 - The military caters to and promotes a specific approach to leadership. Real leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and different types are appropriate for different situations.
     
  7. KinkGuy

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    And if we made the Military service requirement retroactive...there would be what, maybe 3 members of Congress, the Senate or the entrie current Administration left in office. Now that I think about it...not such a bad idea.

    28 days in the National Guard wouldn't count either.
     
  8. ClaireTalon

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    I think making military experience a compulsory resume element for presidential candidates is a good thing. And I don't mean only having done some of it as draftee, or a token service like our current Bushie has done, I think experience as at least higher-ranking NCO, or even better CO/WO should be the level where we put the bar. Not only for the first-hand benefits, like command experience and leading abilities, but also for the reason that the highest command authority should know something about the matters of military life. An issue I have frequently mentioned is that a president who has first-hand combat experience will be more likely to think twice about sending soldiers to a conflict, while being less likely to deceive himself and the public with the impression of war being a game.
     
  9. mindseye

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    I don't object in principle to the requirement of some form of national service, but I definitely object to the specific requirement that the service be military for these reasons:
    • This requirement would exclude people with disabilities from serving as president -- had such a requirement existed in 1932, we'd have missed out on FDR, and have possibly had to settle for Al Smith instead.
    • The requirement would exclude people of certain faiths, including some Amish and Quaker denominations. (Although Richard Nixon was a Quaker, he accepted a non-combat administrative position in the Navy during World War II.)
    • The requirement would exclude people with family hardships -- a parent or sibling with severe disabilities or illnesses -- that prevent them from leaving home during the ages in their lives that would qualify the from service.
    • Besides the question of whom such a requirement would exclude, the requirement would diminish our military's effectiveness. Ambitious wealthy people who have no real interest in service would nevertheless pull strings to get cushy desk positions which they're neither qualified for, nor dedicated to -- and any errors they'd make in paperwork, missing requisitions, etc., directly affect the men and women on the front line. I'd rather see those cushy desk jobs filled by people who are well-trained and devoted.
     
  10. rawbone8

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    Mindseye, you have my vote for most sensible opinion.

    I posted this topic because the opinion seemed a bit unexpected coming from a columnist/essayist whom I had read many times.
     
  11. Dr Rock

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    military service should be mandatory for EVERYONE who wants to enter the government and/or civil service. if they won't even put their own lives on the line for their country, why the fuck should anyone trust them to run its infrastructure?
     
  12. RideRocket

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    I believe there should be some form of compulsory service for all young adults, male and female. I also believe that it doesn't have to be the military. Other options such as civil service, Peace Corps, Job Corps, etc. exist that would suffice. The time requirement is open for debate, but right around 2 years sounds about right. Also, somewhere between the ages of 18-24 would about right as well. Whether you perform your service before, during or after college is open to the individual.

    The point of the compulsory service would be to instill a sense of community, discipline, and service in our citizens to better our society. I think too many people are selfish and have little regard for their neighbor.

    JKF had it right, "ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."
     
  13. ClaireTalon

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    A service like you mention it is a common thing in various countries, which require some way of public service, either in the military, or in other public institutions, and mostly for a timespan of 9 to 12 months. But the issue is: All these countries gear towards an abolishment of this service, for cost reduction and efficiency reasons. Still, I like the general concept of compulsory service for both, men and women, maybe between HS and college. It could be an opportunity to give them some way of orientation and in most cases could mean an immense improve of independence and self-discipline.

    To re-reel this thread, back to the issue of compulsory military service for presidential candidates. I see it wouldn't have given us Presidents like Roosevelt, or Clinton, for that matter, but the element of military service as resume builder is already something omnipresent in corporate America. The bigger airlines will prefer military schooled pilots over privately trained anytime, as I've seen, and so will companies which are working in the fields of electronics, aerospatial engineering, shipyards, maritime transport etc. Mostly the management ranks and heads of department are recruited from the pool of ex-service members, to a degree where someone without military service can only keep up with an extraordinary point in his resume. This is an unofficial policy, mainly. Why not make it an official one for the highest position of administration, where it could really do some good?
     
  14. Dr Rock

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    agreed, but that's a whole other issue
     
  15. RideRocket

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    I guess I was practicing for my political career and giving an answer that didn't answer the question!

    My answer: I don't think it should be a requirement to become the President (or other elected office). However, I would hope that the voting members of society consider the responsibility the commander-in-chief is given over the military. Someone with no experience is, IMHO, a poor choice.
     
  16. Dr Rock

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    haha, anything you say after that is kinda redundant, if you think about it
     
  17. Rikter8

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    I don't think it should be Mandatory - but I do think they should make a rule that If you havent SERVED (No credits, no "but I was close" ), Served meaning Walking that line with the rest, with a firearm in hand, than you can't say you have had Military Experience.
    Filing Papers doesn't justify you as a service man. It labels you a secretary.

    I guess if someone wants to go in the service thats great. Not for me, Not for my offspring - Ever.
    I dont agree to Fight to make someone a "Great Leader".

    The meaning of serving in the service has changed. It went from Fighting for your country, to now, making the Rich Powerful "Leader" Richer.

    I would want my kids to make a Life for themselves Here, in the U.S.A. Going to college, Getting a GOOD education, and develop into productive and successful people.

    If they want to fight, Then I will show them how to defend themselves and their homes.

    C
     
  18. UniDude

    UniDude New Member

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  19. curious n str8

    curious n str8 New Member

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    I think alot of you have missed my point...I do think that the training would seve most of our young adults alot. Give them a sence of direction self worth, leadership, pride in themselfs, acomplishment, ethtics etc..well you get my point I hope and understand, and sure their are exceptions to everthing it's not like its set in Stone. Im not advacting building a war machine by no means. And I don't think it would be a means to end all means or the perfect answer to our problems with the all the young adults or our current leaders. I'm not one to put the blame on One current Person or Leaders or Certain Policidal Group as they all had a hand in certain matters. But with a some ethical training and rules to help everyone work togeather to acheive the current goal and priorties that lie ahead sure wouldn't hurt would it ? And who better to achicive those goals than well trained ppl?:feedback:
     
  20. SpeedoGuy

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    I don't believe mandatory military service should be a pre-req for any political office. I can certainly understand why military experience might enhance a candidate's appeal to voters but I don't see why it should be a requirement.

    While we're on the topic, I'm also against compulsory national service. Sure, some young people will respond to the motivation that service programs provide but I don't think a mandatory term of indentured servitude is the answer for everyone. And it sure isn't guaranteed to serve as some sort of panacea for already-troubled 20 year olds.

    When I was 20 I would have resented being automatically categorized as a slacker screwoff in need of mandatory service simply because of my age. I was already working a job, attending ROTC, and going to college full time. To have the government tell me my job training and education must be put on hold for two years because most 20-year-olds lack direction and motivation is, well, age discrimination.
     
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