The acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, went on the record this morning by declaring that the kerfuffle over the USS John McCain is “much ado about nothing.”
It’s not a big deal, he told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd.
OK, actually it is a big deal, sir. It’s not the stuff of political cataclysms. But it’s a big enough deal for the Pentagon to implore the White House to stop politicizing the military.
You know the story. Donald Trump traveled to Japan for a state visit. The U.S. Navy, it has been confirmed, issued an order to hide the name of a U.S. destroyer, the USS John McCain, from the president’s view. Trump and the late senator from Arizona, Republican John McCain, were political adversaries. They had said some nasty things about each other. Trump once denigrated McCain’s heroic service as a Vietnam War prisoner by saying he was a hero “only because he was captured.”
The idea that the Navy — where McCain served with distinction until he entered politics in the early 1980s — would be used as a cudgel to beat on the namesake of a warship is an act of cheap politics. It has no place in the military.
The White House has said that Trump played no role in the shielding of the name. The president has said he “wouldn’t do that.” I’ll accept the denials of direct presidential involvement.
However, the matter is a big deal insofar as it dragged the military into a political dispute.
Once more, with extreme vigor: The men and women who serve in all branches of the military do not act as tools in political struggles; they take an oath to protect the rest of us from foreign adversaries.
Thus, the political directive that drags the military into the midst of a domestic dispute is a big deal.