Admiral Ernest J. King was probably the most despised officer in the United States Navy, a mean SOB.
He was brilliant, arrogant, hard-working, brutally honest, abusive to subordinates and devilishly charming — when it suited him. King was often a heavy drinker and a notorious womanizer, particularly with the wives of officers under his command.
King recognized and grasped opportunities
But Admiral King was, undeniably, a visionary. Early on, he understood the value of submarines. Right after he served on battleships during World War I, he volunteered as a submarine officer. Even in peacetime, those primitive underwater boats were extremely dangerous.
Ernie King then played a major role in developing naval aviation between the World Wars. As a 49-year-old senior officer, he reported to Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1927 to learn to fly. After completing flight training, King took command of the USS Lexington, then the largest aircraft carrier in the fleet.
King warned of the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack
King’s vision included warnings about Pearl Harbor being in danger of attack by the Japanese. In 1938 he staged a successful simulated naval air raid on Pearl Harbor. He proved that the base was dangerously vulnerable to a surprise attack by the Imperial Navy. He was ignored. No way the Japs could ever pull that off, said the Navy’s top brass.
King hoped to be named Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s top job, one for which he was amply qualified. However, on June 15, 1939, King was assigned to the Navy’s General Board, a sort of semi-retirement posting for Navy officers whose careers were not expected to advance any further.
Nobody who knew Ernest J. King well loved him.
Then, more than three years after King had demonstrated how it could happen, the Japanese really did attack Pearl Harbor the early morning of December 7, 1941. The Pacific Fleet was nearly destroyed. America was thrust into World War II with its naval resources decimated.
He shaves with a blowtorch
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been assistant Navy Secretary during World War I and had known Ernie King for a long time. FDR said that King “shaved every morning with a blowtorch.”
Almost overnight Roosevelt promoted King to the five-star rank of Admiral of the Fleet. He is one of only four naval officers in U.S. history to have five stars on his epaulets. He was also named Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), the only officer to ever hold that job while simultaneously being Admiral of the Fleet.
Who do they send for when things get tough?
The story is that news reporters found King in his small office at the old Army-Navy building, just east of the White House, the morning his promotion was announced. He was gathering up his personal stuff, preparing to move to the huge suite of offices he would occupy as CNO. The news guys told King they had just learned of his promotion. They asked how it was that he’d suddenly gone from obscurity to such lofty rank and power.
One newsman reported that King glared at them and said, “Boys, when things get tough they send for the sons-of-bitches.”
King kicked, cursed, abused and intimidated as necessary and quickly rebuilt the U.S. Navy. He picked the key Navy commanders who would serve in Europe and the Pacific. King’s contributions to Allied victory in World War II are legendary, too numerous to tell here.*
The American people sent for Donald Trump
Things had gotten pretty tough four years ago when the American people sent for Donald J. Trump and made him President of the United States. Except for the heavy drinking, Donald J. Trump has all the character flaws of Ernest J. King and then some.
Like King, Trump is a hardcore son-of-a-bitch. While probably not as brilliant as Ernest King, Donald Trump is very smart. Like King, Trump is a fierce American patriot, and like King, Trump has been famous for decades for making things happen.
Courage and leadership skills are key
I personally have no respect for either of the two political parties. Nor do I have much use for ideology – left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life, Christian vs. secular, etc. These are merely buzz words – B.S. – which “activists” and politicians use to inflame their followers, raise money, and, these days, to get followers on social media.
I pay little attention to political rhetoric, whether on Twitter or in presidential “debates.” Rather, I judge elected officials on their leadership skills, their actual success in making things happen.
Evaluating Donald Trump on his success in making things happen, he is easily the most successful U.S. president since Ronald Reagan. Reagan left office 32 years ago; that’s eight presidential terms. You may not agree with much of what Trump has done. I personally do not agree with some of it, but it is hard to deny he has made things happen. He is unique in that he has pretty much done what he said he would do.
Let’s take a quick look at a few things this rude, vulgar SOB has accomplished:
He has brought illegal immigration more or less under control.
Despite rulings by federal judges and little cooperation from Congress, he has fundamentally transformed U.S. immigration policy and enforcement. The “beautiful wall” at the Mexican border is, perhaps, mostly symbolic. However, 450 miles of it are built.
The Associated Press is one of the few more-or-less fair and professional news organizations left. AP said last month, “Using more than 400 executive actions…Trump has effectively shut down the asylum system at the southwest border and slashed refugee admissions. At the same time, Trump has imposed a slew of new restrictions on legal immigration… With so few visas being processed and immigration fees collected, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has all but run out of money and is about to furlough large swaths of its workforce.”
Pocahontas and her friends may have been outraged by how he did it. Some of it has not been pretty. However, we have much better control over who enters the United States than we had four years ago.
Trump radically overhauled U.S. trade policy
President Trump killed Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) called a “horrendous deal that would have devastated the American auto industry.”
Trump went head to head with China on trade and tariffs. Some called it a trade war, but Trump did not back off. In fact, he turned up the heat. “China, not the American consumer, is bearing the burden of the tariffs by slashing its prices and devaluing its currency while the U.S. steel industry is thriving behind the Trump tariff shield,” said the WSJ last month.
Using tactics that some considered “predatory,” Trump’s negotiators aggressively and quickly broke up the G.H.W. Bush/Bill Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It was replaced by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) on July 1 of this year. It may have been “predatory,” but the predators are generally called winners and their prey are the losers. Few, if any, of Trump’s enemies, deny that the people of the United States were winners when USMCA replaced NAFTA.
Military allies paying more of their share
Trump complained in 2016 that our NATO allies were not paying their fair share. He said American taxpayers were paying too much of the cost of our primary military alliance. Trump has had significant success here. The European democracies are paying a larger part of NATO expenses than they were four years ago.
Even the Democrats agreed that South Korean was not paying enough of the cost of defending itself against Kim Jung-un (a/k/a “Little Rocket Man.) That has changed. South Korea paid 90 percent of the $10.8-billion improvements in 2018. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is pressuring them to pay even more going forward.
Trump has improved our position in the Middle East
On September 11, 2001, the U.S. was caught slumbering by Osama Bin Laden’s successful attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Many were reminded of Pearl Harbor. President George W. Bush reacted with military excursions in Afghanistan and Iraq. These operations have cost thousands of American lives over the last 17 years and more trillions of American dollars than anyone has yet admitted. Looking back, it’s hard to see any benefit that has accrued to the American people from the Middle East wars. Toppling the secular Muslim government of Saddam Hussein unleashed radical Muslim fundamentalists in Iraq and elsewhere. It resulted in the creation of ISIS, perhaps the most horrendous and deliberate human horror since Hitler’s Nazis.
Barak Obama told us during his 2008 that campaign that he’d get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama did kill Osama Bin Laden. He must also be credited with killing a lot of ISIS radicals with drones and cruise missiles. Otherwise, during eight years in office, Obama failed to deliver on getting us out of that mess.
Trump and Jim Mattis, his first Secretary of Defense, upped the ante. Now driven out of Syria, ISIS members are still being hunted down, arrested and killed by the U.S. and its allies. ISIS is not dead. It has, however, been badly crippled during the Trump years.
Trump reduced the U.S. military commitment to Syria, which prompted Mattis to resign. Right or wrong, Trump mostly did exactly what he said he would do in the Middle East.
Trump increased U.S. support for Israel
Trump unabashedly strengthened U.S. military and diplomatic ties with Israel. All do not agree with that strategy, Undeniably, Israel can be a troublesome ally. However, the simple fact is that, for the past 70 years, Israel has been the one ally in the Middle East that could be counted on to pull its weight. In the war on Islamic terrorism, they have never backed up. If you want to seek out and destroy a contingent of Muslim terrorists on short notice, let the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) know. The IDF will show up on time and ready to fight.
The Obama Administration notably weakened U.S. support for Israel. In 2010, Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, criticized Israeli actions as “deeply negative.” Hillary arrogantly gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “four-part ultimatum” in March 2010. Then came the infamous confrontation between Obama and Netanyahu at the White House on March 26, 2010. Netanyahu did not budge.
Adding insult to injury, Obama called in 2011 for Israel to “return to its pre-1967 borders.”
Then, Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was beyond anything Israel was willing to bear.
The last straw came with Obama’s tacit support on December 23, 2016 – after Trump had been elected – of the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Netanyahu exploded, “The Obama administration not only failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN, it colluded with it behind the scenes.”
Netanyahu added, “Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, to negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution.”
Once inaugurated, Trump started working on restoring the American relationship with its most steadfast Middle Eastern ally. Trump, being Trump, even went at little over the top by recognizing Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel in December, 2017. It was mainly a symbolic gesture, but it did reaffirm to the world that the U.S. was serious about defending Israel and giving no quarter to Muslim fundamentalist extremists.
Most importantly, Trump has repudiated Obama’s insane nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump’s handling of the COVID pandemic has been inexcusable
In fairness, it must be said that Trump’s cavalier approach to the coronavirus pandemic has been wrong — spectacularly wrong. It has shown his arrogance at its worst. This business of failing to wear a mask and discouraging others from doing so has led to further infections and more deaths. I have said to several people during recent weeks that there is only one candidate in 2020 who can beat Donald Trump: That candidate is Donald Trump. Continuing his outrageous attitude about COVID could be the device by which Donald Trump beats himself two weeks from today.
Trump’s defiant arrogance has been a useful distraction
Trump’s wacky Tweets, his flamboyant frat-rat pranks, his bad-boy rudeness, and his seemingly out-of-control ego mania have been a huge distraction. They used to bother me a lot. They still bother me a little.
However, a couple of years ago , I realized that there is method in Trump’s apparent madness. While Trump has distracted his political enemies with his foolishness, they have not paid attention to what he was actually doing. They fell for it. They countered with that incompetent impeachment circus. It never had a chance of succeeding, but maybe Pelosi and Schumer really believed in it. They never had the votes to convict. They never would have had the votes, and everybody but Nancy et al knew it.
Meanwhile, Trump was getting immigration under control, overhauling U.S. trade policy, forcing our allies to pay their fair share, improving the economy and maneuvering the United States into a far more powerful position vis-à-vis the rest of the world.
While Trump’s detractors were carping about how many servings of ice cream he asked for or drooling over what porn hookers he had consorted with, Trump fundamentally changed America’s position in the world.
He is my son-of-a-bitch
Donald Trump is probably not a nice man. I would not walk across the street to shake his hand. I do not urge anybody else to vote for him. He is an embarrassment in countless ways, but his accomplishments during the last four years are too important to ignore.
If the voters elect Joe Biden on November 3, the country will survive. Good Lord! we survived Jimmy Carter!
However, I will vote for Donald Trump. I am not entirely sure I will enjoy four more years of Trump, but, in the 2020 presidential election, he is MY son-of-a-bitch.
*After Admiral Ernest King’s death at age 77 in 1956, one of his daughters was asked about her father’s famously volcanic disposition. “Oh, no,” she said. “My father was the most even-tempered man in the Navy. He was always in a rage.”
– J. W. Shiverdecker
Admiral Ernest J King, Covid-19 coronavirus, illegal immigrants, ISIS, Israel, NATO, Northeast MS news, Pearl Harbor, politics, US Trade Policy, World Trade Center