I wrote recently about the demand from the White House that the military move the USS McCain from Yokosuka Naval base during Donald Trump’s visit to Japan. It was a disgraceful insult to McCain, our military, and the country. My hope was that the White House would do that right thing and fire the staffers responsible for treating an active U.S. warship as a petty prop. Instead, Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that it wasn’t “unreasonable” for the demand to be made. In doing so, Mulvaney confirmed that the White House cares little for the principles of separating our military from politics or pettiness. Thus what might have been denounced as a terrible mistake is now embraced by the Trump White House as a reasonable use of our military to protect the President’s sensibilities. It not only makes Trump look like a unhinged egotist but also his Administration as cringing sycophants. It also contradicts the position of the Acting Secretary of Defense. That is quite an accomplishment even for a White House known for self-inflicted wounds.
Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he believes it was a “probably somebody in the advance team” who told the Navy to hide the ship and that “The president’s feelings toward the former senator are well known.” He added “some 23- or 24-year_old person went to that site and said ‘Oh my goodness, there’s the John McCain we all know how the president feels about the former senator maybe that’s not the best backdrop can somebody look into moving it,’ that’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.”
First of all, there is little need to guess about “somebody” since these were emails and saved communications. Moreover, why are the President’s feelings toward McCain relevant? This is about ordering a warship to be moved for politics or pettiness or both. It would be as improper if the President ordered it himself. We are not some banana republic where our military is ordered to secret itself so not to offend the commander-in-chief.
Mulvaney’s comments directly contradict the view of the military which has clearly indicated its opposition to this order as forcing the military into politics. What is most disturbing is that this was an easy call. All Mulvaney had to say is that it was an outrageous order given without the knowledge of anyone at the White House and that the staffer has been fired or suspended or sanctioned in some respect.
Instead, the White House has conveyed to these sailors and their families that they are serving on a vessel with a mark of [Mc]Cain.