As we’ve recently seen in Afghanistan, American presidents with no real world experience in and personal knowledge of our armed forces are prone to military debacle and failure. Thus, the Constitution should be amended to require US presidents to have served in the active duty military. The Air Force doesn’t count. Just kidding. What I really meant to say was, neither does the Coast Guard.
Aside from those Army veteran quips, I’m serious. Applied retroactively how would we have done? Washington, very well. Taylor? Not horrible. Pierce? Decent. Lincoln served active duty militia, good stuff. Grant? Meh. Garfield? Too short in office to tell. I probably missed some 19th century and G.A.R. guys. But all in all, a decent bunch.
20th and 21st century? Teddy, above average. Then weirdly no vets in the big chair until Truman, a gap of 36 years. But then, it was a period of peace. After that the vets come hot and heavy. Truman, good. Ike, very good. Kennedy, below average. Johnson, very bad. Nixon, mixed. Ford, decent. Carter, a disaster. Reagan, superb. Bush the Elder, average. And that was the last. Non deployed Guard doesn’t cut it, Dubya. And, of course, traitors like Mark Milley notwithstanding as potential chief executives, most military veterans are fine people and true patriots.
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That’s quite a run, Truman to Bush the Elder. 48 straight years with a vet in office. In that span we won WWII, fought Korea and Vietnam, became the strongest nation in the world, put a man on the moon, won the Gulf War, and won the Cold War. Not to mention unheard of prosperity for our citizens. It wasn’t all skiddles and rainbows. But the alternative has been Clinton, Obama, and Biden. You pick.
In the present, the best the country has to offer for the Oval Office right now is Ron DeSantis, a Navy vet. Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, Dan Crenshaw, Brian Mast, and candidates Derrick Van Orden and Eli Crane are all Republicans who are fit for national leadership. All have served. I’m missing a lot of other Republicans in that short list. They too are qualified for high office.
This analyst did his four years in the Army and has seen very up close and personal the kind of leadership skills military service can instill. Some of the best leaders I have ever known, men and women who are still my friends today, I either served with or also wore the uniform. Except the Marines, they’re just animals. Kidding, kidding. Actually, I think Marine officers are the best of the best.
It would also motivate political types, many of whom are notoriously narcissistic and effete, to serve. It might just make real adults out of some of them. Since most join the services at around 19, or graduate from a service academy around 21, it could also have a decisively good effect on their lives at a formative stage.
Given what we’ve seen in presidents since Bush the Elder, the time has come to require time in the active duty military as a qualification for the presidency. For national leadership should demand a record of personal sacrifice and hard won service to America.