What, you mean an honest man?

Donald Trump will be the only US president ever with no political or military experience

In the office’s storied 227-year existence — from George Washington to Barack Obama — there has never been a president-elect who has entirely lacked both political and military service.

47 thoughts on “What, you mean an honest man?”

  1. How unfortunate that the leader of the free world isn’t someone who couldn’t get an email server sorted out.

    (yes, government is often slower than free market, but still, it hasn’t taken me more than a week in government stuff to get one, and I’m not the FUCKING SECRETARY OF STATE).

  2. Being a politician is a service now, who knew?

    Doesn’t being in Home Alone 2 count for anything? He’s also name checked in American Psycho.

  3. Really what experience had Obama had FFS? Given the military reaction to Trump’s election I think his lack of experience didn’t matter to rank and file troops……

  4. Donald Trump will be the only US president ever _________________ (!).

    who parts his hair on the left.

    who has a daughter named Ivanka.

    who divorced a woman named Ivana.

    Et fucking cetera.

    Moaners will moan.

  5. Tim

    Late I know but you have to head over to TRUK for the post ‘Trump’s incoherence’ – leaving aside that there is enough material to fill forty posts, this has to be one of the biggest diamonds ever seen.

    ‘The moral? Don’t put a man with a micro brain in charge of the macroeconomy. he will never understand it’.

    Dunning-Kruger died – it’s official…..

  6. Philip Scott Thomas

    Donald Trump will be the only US president ever with no political or military experience

    And your point is what?

  7. And Zachary Crockett, the author of the piece, is a writer, reporter and community activist who also has no experience in either the military or politics. And given that he’s writing for Vox, well, you could make a case that he’s hasn’t much of a career, either…

    But, evidently that’s not an impediment to passing judgment on the President-Elect’s qualifications.

  8. I wonder if Zach Crockett would have been happier if Donald Trump had napalmed some gooks in ‘Nam (or better yet, done Christmas in Cambodia with John Kerry).

    Or, after napalming said gooks, he’d have then come home, bought himself a senate seat in New York, and then collected a couple of million in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. You know, public service…

  9. What you need is a proper statesman like Jean-Claude Juncker:

    Quoted by Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien, Mr Juncker, a former prime minister of the tiny state, continued: “In general the Americans pay no heed to Europe. As for Mr Trump, if I understand properly, he thinks Belgium is a village somewhere on our continent…
    “My honest opinion? With Mr Trump, we are going to waste two years while he tours a world he doesn’t know.”

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    If you were to try and make a spoof biography of Zachary Crockett, I fear you would fall far short of the hilarious reality. Satire is dead.

    You can bet that young Zach thinks anyone without a university degree is a knuckle-dragging cretin. Wonder what his degree’s in? No doubt something utterly meretricious. It would be nice if our elites were actually, you know, elite, but the whole smug parade of Lefty unnützen Essern on display during this election must have been worth fifteen points to Trump.

  11. there has never been a president-elect who has entirely lacked both political and military service.

    I would like to point out that military service actually brings nothing to the table – especially since a goodly number of our Presidents were mid-level officers at the highest. It certainly hasn’t stopped them (except for maybe Carter) from jumping in to every violent conflict they could.

    And yes, mid-level officers do have management skills – so do people who run large businesses.

    As for *political* service – Trump’s done that. As an outside player having to wine-and-dine pols to (not bribe!) get approval for various business ventures. He understands the *theory* behind the bureaucracy even if he’s not familiar with which *exact* lever to pull in the Federal government.

    And, frankly, I find that lack of familiarity somewhat reassuring when contrasted against the damage done by the last 24 years worth of ‘experienced’ politicians and military veterans that have been in office.

  12. A future commander in chief who isn’t out to invade somewhere and not about to start world war 3. Whats not to like? Considering what Iraq (a typo) and Afghanistan cost the US military I can quite understand them wanting a commander in chief who isn’t going to send them to some place they do not want to be.

  13. Bloke in North Dorset

    “I would like to point out that military service actually brings nothing to the table – especially since a goodly number of our Presidents were mid-level officers at the highest”

    There is a serious point here. Those who have been to war will do their damnedest to avoid sending other people’s children to war and it will be a last resort when they do. Those who haven’t tend to be more gung-ho with other people’s lives – yes I’m looking at you Tony Blair and George Bush.

    Not that I’m saying having been to war is a pre requisite, but if it’s to be held up as a standard then we should understand why.

    I also believe that part of the reason for peace during the Cold War was that most of the leaders had served in hot wars.

  14. Slightly OT but I’m getting increasing hacked off with the ‘uneducated = unintelligent’ implication thats being bandied about like confetti. Just because someone has spent 3 years drinking lager, smoking dope and shagging while occasionally writing some bollocks about the socio-cultural implications of out of town shopping malls does not mean they are intelligent, and the fact someone has been working hard since the age of 16 does not mean they’re an idiot. In fact I’d say based purely on the anecdata of my social circle those who have degrees are considerably less intelligent than those who do not. Some of the dimmest and least educated (in the classical sense) people I know not only have degrees, they are teachers.

  15. I think that being an outsider was one of Trump’s main appeals. Never been in political office- never been offered a bribe. Never been in the military- maybe war isn’t everything.
    A new approach was required. His approach is new. If it’s not better he gets turned out in four years.
    Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  16. ‘The moral? Don’t put a man with a micro brain in charge of the macroeconomy. he will never understand it’.

    Said the Chartered Accountant who’s one step away from living in an outhouse…

  17. @ Jim,
    IMHO one ninth of the university population (about 5% of the total population) are significantly brighter than average.
    The remaining eight ninth’s are merely more compliant.
    How else do you explain their willingness to give up 3 to 4 years of their lives, and take on significant debt, with little certainty of reward.

  18. The subset of men who are dishonest is not limited to those with a public service record. I need a better litmus test before I trust the words of Trump more than those of Joe Camel.

  19. LY: well, mebbe, but consider the alternative on offer: a woman who is so undeniably corrupt that, according to the emails of her handlers that were revealed by Wikileaks, even her closest collaborators, boot-licking sycophants all, thought that she could have a problem if the truth about her came out.

    As, indeed, it happened.

    At least with Donald J Trump, the possibility exists that he might be an honest man, if only because his ego may turn out to be larger than his greed.

  20. “There is a serious point here. Those who have been to war will do their damnedest to avoid sending other people’s children to war and it will be a last resort when they do.”

    Because everyone joins the military in the expectation that they’ll never have to go to war? Seems like an odd career choice for a pacifist.

    I think it depends on whether they believe the war is about something worth fighting for. Overthrowing dictators with a line in sadistic torture, rape, and gassing kids probably counts as a worthwhile endeavor for most of ours.

    Of course, some other people are just fine with that sort of thing. None of our business, eh?

  21. When did “qualified” become a thing for Presidents? Was it right about the time Trump won the nomination?

    I don’t remember anyone talking about it past elections, it’s not like you take a fucking test. All of a sudden she’s the most qualified ever and he’s the least qualified ever, like Top Trumps!

  22. > I also believe that part of the reason for peace during the Cold War was that most of the leaders had served in hot wars.

    There was no peace during the Cold War. It was fought as a series of proxy wars.

    > yes I’m looking at you Tony Blair and George Bush.

    We know how the world has turned out. We don’t know how it would have turned out if America had turned the other cheek to 9/11. I’m not convinced it would have been particularly lovely. The real tragedy is the way Obama threw away all the gains in order to make some sort of “point”.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    NiV,

    When I was serving we did have a few people who joined to learn a trade and didn’t expect to go to war, given that is the point that is made in the advertising its hardly surprising, but they were few and far between. Our armed forces are volunteers and from my experience then and observing now mostly accept that injury and death are occupational hazards.

    As for overthrowing brutal dictators, I don’t have a problem with that and at the time supported and even argued for the war in Iraq and given the information we had at the time would do so again. My argument is that a President/PM who had fought in, say, WW2 may have been a bit more sceptical about the evidence and reasons for going in. I like to think they would have thought a bit more about the war and the aftermath.

    Of course I’d like us to fix every problem in the world and install liberal democracies, but there is a resource issue and even with the best will in the world we can’t overthrow all the brutal dictators out there. The question is who is best to decide which ones we should attempt to fix knowing that the cost will be a stream of body bags and the need for more organisations like Help for Heroes?

    I wasn’t trying to argue that the President needs to have active military experience and as large scale wars fade in to the past that’s not going to happen anyway, just that the argument for having a President with active military experience shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand.

    S2,

    I agree that we don’t know the counterfactual of turning the other cheek after 9/11 and politically it wasn’t an option for Bush. There’s even an argument that it might not have happened had Clinton not turned the other cheek so often but Iraq was never about 9/11, it was just the excuse.

    Maybe a President who’d served in Vietnam would have understood the lesson that its very easy to start wars. If you get the chance dig out CNN’s excellent series The Seventies. At the end of Episode 3, which deals with the end of the Vietnam war Dan Hinkley of NBC News is shown in Arlington cemetery making the point that future politicians deciding to go to war should make the announcement from there, and if they can gain support it must be a good reason. Someone who’s served in Vietnam wouldn’t have needed to make that journey to understand the point.

  24. Politicians have successfully fecked up the free West, killing millions in the process but somehow not electing yet another politician is a bad thing?

  25. Belgium is a village somewhere on our continent…

    Many believe it is, after all it had no government for nearly two years and nobody noticed.

  26. Pat – its not as if its taking on debt like a bank loan or credit card is. No payments in first year, no payments in future unless earning above a certain amount? And its free money.
    The students are onto a pretty good deal.

  27. Hedgehog,

    I voted for Johnson for a reason. Stein and Rocky were runners up. The only reason I didn’t vote for Cliton(it’s so nice to not have the PC police up my ass for that former typo) was my expectation that he was actually just a crony capitalist lick Cliton.

    NniV.

    Is it worth it for when we just fly a mission accomplished banner and not ensure the people have a stable society?

    magnusw,

    Qualified came up with Bush II but we(well voters) decided it didn’t matter. If he hadn’t been a complete fuck-up my unqualified arse might have had a shot.

    BiND,

    I was against the war at the time based on what I knew. I also remember the R’s furor over cruise missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan that targeted Bin Laden.

    Bemused,

    You won the thread. I’m sorry I wasted time typing the above.

  28. “Our armed forces are volunteers and from my experience then and observing now mostly accept that injury and death are occupational hazards.”

    That accords with my observation, too. They got annoyed about politicians not letting them do their job, or putting them in harms way unecessarily because of some mess-up, or for money, or whatever. But every one I ever met was always supportive of the overall mission.

    The myth that the troops oppose wars that politicians are gung-ho for I think was started by the war poets, and I find very annoying. My apologies if I misinterpreted and that wasn’t what you meant.

    “My argument is that a President/PM who had fought in, say, WW2 may have been a bit more sceptical about the evidence and reasons for going in.”

    The problem is that the actual reasons were not what the newspapers picked up on, and at the time it evidently seemed easier to let them carry on in their misunderstanding because it helped raise public support for the war.

    In retrospect that was probably a mistake politically – truth matters. Possibly they decided it was worth the price – it was better to have the troops supported better during the event, and Blair/Bush would take the political fall out later. I don’t know.

    The real reason was the impact on regional stability from Saddam’s activities, and the crumbling of the UN’s credibility and authority. Saddam sought to extend his influence over neighbouring countries using the threat of WMD as both a direct threat and a shield. Nobody wants to start a war with a nuclear power, so they can get away with a lot more with less risk of retaliation. Even the unconfirmed rumour is sufficient for his purposes – it was this that the UN resolutions were aimed at dismantling. He not only had to get rid of the WMD, (and more importantly the ability to reconstitute it quickly,) he had to *prove* it.

    An even bigger problem with it is that it induces all the neighbouring countries to join the arms race. Partly to counterbalance Saddam’s threats, partly to support *their own* regional ambitions for power. If you won’t stop Saddam, they will, and if you’re not even able to stop Saddam, why would any of them believe you’d do anything to stop them, either? And while there are a few run by governments that are ‘sort of’ on our side at the moment; in the longer run governments change, or are overthrown. The Soviets were bad, but they were at least sensible and self-interested. Islamic nutters with nuclear weapons are a very different matter indeed.

    The organisation that is supposed to deal with this stuff is the UN. The UN is supposed to identify threats to international peace and security (which in Saddam’s case they did), can impose sanctions to enforce compliance if these are likely to work (which they did), and are required by treaty to take military enforcement action if the sanctions are either not expected to work, or in the event don’t work. That last step was blocked for 12 years by France, Germany, and Russia, at immense cost to the Iraqi people, becuse they had signed deals with Saddam for Iraqi oil after the sanctions collapsed, and in the meantime the Paris club had loaned him billions to keep him going, which of course gave them a handle on him. If Saddam was overthrown, that investment would be lost.

    The sanctions were increasingly unsustainable, and would have soon had to be abandoned, and what message would that have sent about the UN’s willingness and ability to enforce international peace and security? 9/11 gave a narrow window of public support for action, so they took it.

    The fact that Saddam was a bastard, and his sons were even worse (and likely to take over before too long), was merely the icing on the cake. *I* might want to bring about universal liberty for other people, irrespective of nationality, but I’m a libertarian. A lot of other people apparently aren’t and don’t. I think that’s one of the main reasons Bush/Blair *personally* wanted to do it, but the justifications they used were to do with geopolitics. It was stuff-all to do with ‘WMD stockpile’ or ’45 minutes’ claims (which were never actually disproved – there was plenty of opportunity and motive to get rid of the evidence).

    “I like to think they would have thought a bit more about the war and the aftermath.”

    Not their job. Their job is to tell the military what they want to achieve, the military tell them how much that would cost, what they have to do, and what the risks and problems would be, and the politicians say either ‘Never mind’ or ‘Go’, to which the military say ‘Yes, Sir!’.

    Everyone in the military knew it would be difficult. Everyone knew that many of the problems that arose would be unanticipated – they always are in war. I was fairly sure even before the war that it would take at least a couple of decades of support to bring stability. But the political window closed long before that was possible.

    “I wasn’t trying to argue that the President needs to have active military experience and as large scale wars fade in to the past that’s not going to happen anyway, just that the argument for having a President with active military experience shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand.”

    I agree. Even if not in the military (it’s not the only relevant perspective) – politicians should have some direct experience of what it’s like in a war zone. But I’d also argue that they need some direct experience of what it’s like to live in a totalitarian dictatorship in constant fear of the secret police, so they have something to make the comparison against. Which is worst? That’s the question.

  29. I think NiV at 1:19 PM gets it just about right.

    “Oil for food” was crumbling (funny how the people who asked where the WMD were never tried to show where all the dead bodies from children killed by oil for food were) and Saddam Hussein was going to try to rebuild the WMD project, at least as I understand it from the Duelfer report. If I had been a politician, I probably would have tried to punt for another six months.

    And then there was the Lancet study, in which all those kids killed by oil for food suddenly never happened, only to be killed by the war….

  30. ‘I would like to point out that military service actually brings nothing to the table – especially since a goodly number of our Presidents were mid-level officers at the highest.’

    I disagree – a little.

    I was in the U.S. Air Force. Then corporate America, as a mid-level manager and technocrat. I saw many things in the Air Force that I thought they were doing wrong. Much from traditions that were no longer valid.

    While a military background is absolutely NOT a requirement for president, considering the size of the military budget, I think some knowledge of all the stupid shit going on would be worthwhile. Especially if a business man like Trump had had a look see.

  31. Bloke in North Dorset
    November 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    There is a serious point here. Those who have been to war will do their damnedest to avoid sending other people’s children to war and it will be a last resort when they do. Those who haven’t tend to be more gung-ho with other people’s lives – yes I’m looking at you Tony Blair and George Bush.

    In my experience, ‘serious’ people who are seeking the office of the Presidency do not have *any* compunctions about sending more soldiers out to fight. Its a comforting fiction, but you have people like McCain, who spent time as a POW – including torture – cheerleading further ‘interventions’.

    I can’t think of a single US President with military experience (outside of Carter) who was reluctant to join or start a conflict.

  32. Gamecock
    November 12, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Gamecock – I would say that its not your *military experience* that is useful, its your *management experience you got while serving in the military* that is. And that can be gotten in other places – like private business.

    I daresay that what you saw as problems in the USAF – I was in the Navy (enlisted) and saw plenty of problems there also – are not unique to the services and plenty of other managers have had to deal with similar issues, from personnel to budget to maintenance.

  33. Bloke in North Dorset
    November 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    And keep in mind that George Bush had ‘military experience’ also.

  34. “I like to think they would have thought a bit more about the war and the aftermath.”

    Not their job. Their job is to tell the military what they want to achieve, the military tell them how much that would cost, what they have to do, and what the risks and problems would be, and the politicians say either ‘Never mind’ or ‘Go’, to which the military say ‘Yes, Sir!’.

    The war, no, not really (as, being fair, I think you actually meant.) The politicians needed to think more about the whys, the whens and the wherefores. Yes, the how is the job of the military professionals.

    The aftermath? Wtff? How isn’t that the job of the damn politicians?

  35. And keep in mind that George Bush had ‘military experience’ also.

    Shrub? The first rule of Flight Club is we don’t talk about what really goes on in Flight Club.

    GHW? Over 50 combat missions, a DFC (Yank version) and three Air Medals? Not exactly hero of the year but a totally respectable war record.

  36. “The aftermath? Wtff? How isn’t that the job of the damn politicians?”

    Which bit of ‘the aftermath’ are you talking about, then?

    I’d have said there were two major elements to the aftermath – maintaining peace and security, and setting up a new democratic Iraqi government. The first was unequivocally the military’s job (at least until the Iraqi police force and army can be purged, retrained, and set up again), both to plan and to carry out, and the second is the job of the *Iraqi* politicians and electorate – or it’s not a democracy, it’s an invasion and permanent annexation.

    Or do you mean that the politicians should have realised the military would have problems doing that, and therefore not gone in? Left Saddam in place and let the sanctions collapse?

    Building democratic institutions is a process that takes decades, minimum – it took us centuries to do it the first time around. They say an entire generation has to grow up into adulthood under the new system before it really gets internalised into being ‘just the way things ought to be’. And a chaotic post-war country full of islamist insurgents, fighting factions, corruption, rampant tribalism, no government, and the remnants of dictatorship simply *cannot* leap straight to enlightened peaceful liberal democracy in a single bound. It’s stupid to even imagine it could. It would be like Germany or Japan after WWII, only worse – how long were the Americans there, directly running the country as an ‘occupying power’? Ten years?

    It was known that it would probably take decades. It was known that the political window during which the public would allow them to act would likely close long before then. They had made too many enemies at home to think it wouldn’t. The decision was evidently made that it was better to do half a job than none at all. But no, I don’t think there was any failure of forethought on their part – there was nothing they ought to have done instead because there were simply no options available for avoiding those problems, as it was mostly outside their control (and with no way to predict, in detail). There were too many bad guys, and the Iraqis had too much to learn too quickly. They did the best they could with the opportunity they had.

    The complaints about the post-war period always seemed to me a case of unrealistic expectations set up as strawmen by the usual suspects from the anti-war crowd. The basic problem was that they were forced to withdraw far too early, and it was the anti-war crowd who were directly responsible for that. For them to actually *criticise* the coalition in essence because the politicians hadn’t predicted and countered the anti-war faction’s own actions to sabotage the recovery seems ridiculous, but ever so typical of them.

    Or do you mean something else?

  37. When Blair took office in ’97, he started badgering Clinton about Saddam. Clinton, of course, kicked the can down the road. Then Bush was an isolationist. Then 9/11. And yet Blair gets called a “poodle” for life for “following” Bush.

    It was that that fully persuaded me that most of the electorate will choose a snappy slogan over facts every time. Especially the ones who shout the loudest they they want facts.

  38. > It was stuff-all to do with ‘WMD stockpile’ or ’45 minutes’ claims (which were never actually disproved – there was plenty of opportunity and motive to get rid of the evidence).

    During the Gulf War, Saddam moved loads of materiel (all his fighter jets, IIRC) to Syria for safekeeping. Then we had 14 months between informing him of the coming invasion and the actual invasion — which I always liken to giving a teenage boy a 14-month warning that you’re going to be cleaning his room, and then astoundingly you don’t find any porn. Point these facts — in the latter case, a really enormously obvious fact — out to people and they act like you’re a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Fast-forward ten years, and Assad has got loads of chemical weapons. Funny old world.

    > The basic problem was that they were forced to withdraw far too early, and it was the anti-war crowd who were directly responsible for that. For them to actually *criticise* the coalition in essence because the politicians hadn’t predicted and countered the anti-war faction’s own actions to sabotage the recovery seems ridiculous, but ever so typical of them.

    This.

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