One of the things that endangers our traditional freedoms in America is the growing influence, power and even claimed authority of unelected bureaucrats – mostly provided with essentially lifetime appointments from civil service laws. Bureaucratic decision-making is the infrastructure of authoritarians. America was founded on the ability of we the people to establish our own policies through the power of ELECTED officials.
The case of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher is yet another example. Gallagher was accused by military prosecutors of murder and posing with an enemy corpse. He was acquitted of murder but convicted of violating military rules against such picture-taking.
Having lost the major charge, Navy officials decided to reduce Gallagher’s rank. When President Trump reversed that order, Navy officials sought to take away Gallagher’s Trident Pin – the badge of a Navy Seal.
Trump’s intervention was enormously popular with the rank-and-file members of then military, but apparently not with some in the more senior ranks – especially those who were pursuing punishment for Gallagher.
As could be expected the anti-Trump media sided against the Commander-in-Chief and the many soldiers in the field – and with the small cadre of senior officers seeking to punish Gallagher further. The claim was that Trump was violating military rules and policies.
As a result of the controversy, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark Esper for “lack of candor” in the Gallagher case – specifically proposing to the White House that Gallagher be allowed to keep his Trident Pin. This was contrary to Esper’s public position that the Trident Pin review should go forward internally.
In a logic that only makes sense in Washington, Esper advised the White House that Gallagher would most certainly be allowed to keep the pin after the review. So, Spencer wanted Gallagher to keep the pin. Esper wanted Gallagher to keep the Pin. Trump wanted Gallagher to keep the pin. So Esper fires Spencer and the press blames Trump for the entire mess.
The anti-Trump press jumped on the case as yet another indication that the President goes off on his own agenda rather than follow established (read that “establishment”) policies. Just as all those State Department employees placed their procedures over the rightful powers of a President, the press is proffering for the power of bureaucrats over a duly elected President. You will recall that the “regular procedures” in the Ukrainian case were bureaucratic policies and the “irregular procedures” were those established by the President.
To overly dramatize the Gallagher situation, the elitist establishment press grossly exaggerated the severity of Gallagher’s only offense – posing with a dead enemy. They call it a most serious charge and a grave (no pun intended) offense. I can see where it should be discouraged, but I personally would rank the offense as comparable to a speeding ticket.
The former spokesperson for the Washington establishment (first Department of Defense and then State), Admiral John Kirby showed up on morning television to claim that this is yet another example of an abuse of power by Trump – claiming, without a scintilla of evidence, that Trump made his decision to help himself politically. In the spirit that good policy is good politics, that may be true. But Kirby’s failure to respect the military chain-of-command – upon which Trump sits at the top – in favor of the supremacy of bureaucratic policies shows that the Admiral is one of those Washington establishment authoritarians.
Like it or not, Trump IS the Commander-in-Chief and it is his right and authority to set the policies and make specific decisions regarding the military. In fact, in the chain-of-command, it is common for a senior officer to countermand orders or decisions of junior officers. Trump violated NO rules or policies because the Constitution gives the President the power to set rules and make policies – and make ad hoc decisions based on his own policies. The Trump “policy” is to side with the boots on the ground rather than the brass in the Pentagon when the two come into conflict.
The idea that bureaucratic established policies and procedures take precedence over decision-making by elected officials is dangerous to the health of the Republic. The inalienable rights of we the people are being eroded across the federal government by an elitist authoritarian concept of governance. It is a political cancer that has been growing on the body politic – and if unchecked will end America’s great experiment in democracy.
So, there ‘tis.