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QotD: Military Experience

Question: Do you believe that military experience is a necessity for POTUS?

My Answer: No. I think, very much so, that it depends on the person. I also think, depending on the person, that military experience could be a negative. I can imagine a situation in which a President, for no other reason than having seen war first-hand, hesitates to send men into harm's way. Military experience seems to be a huge plus for POTUS candidates, but what about killing, seeing people be killed, or worse yet - training but never actually seeing combat or whatnot - makes a man more fit to lead? I don't know.

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

16 Responses to "QotD: Military Experience"

  1. What's wrong if the Commander In Chief "hesitates to send men into harm's way?" I'd rather have a President who has seen war firsthand and is willing to think twice about risking the lives of other Americans than one who hasn't and won't think once about it.

  2. Chris, read. I said "for no other reason." In other words, a situation in which it's abundantly clear that we need to do "whatever" militarily. Sometimes wars, battles, and so on are a very real necessity.

  3. Yes, basically I do think it's necessary. But the thing is, other qualifications are necessary too, and when Primary season is over and we have a choice between a few candidates, military service can't be a litmus test.

    Example: Senator John Kerry has military experience. He was an officer, and he saw combat, albeit briefly and certainly not in a "Battle of the Bulge"-type situation. But he's also a man of deeply questionable character, a man of ingrained double standards and a man of no appreciable leadership skills at all. Given the choice between Senator John Kerry and a strong candidate with character and leadership who didn't know the difference between the Navy and the Air Force, I'd vote for the other guy.

  4. I don't believe military experience is necessary. In most cases, a presidential candidate's military experience will correspond to the operation of war (i.e. someone who was a pilot) or the tactical management of war, rather than the decision process for going to war or the political management of a war — which I suppose are the key war-related responsibilities of the President.

  5. Nope. I do think it could serve to give a person experiences and lessons that will better aid them in leading. However nothing is one size fits all.

    In light of the current election. I really don't know why Kerry's campaign is so big on Vietnam, he volunteered for what he thought was a safe assignment, then turned out to be really dangerous. If I were in that position I would just say "I served in a really dangerous assignment." Then there is no back lash of half-truths/lies. The only reason that makes sense to me is that actual his public service, i.e. senate duties look poorer. I think that its almost guaranteed that presidential candidates are going to have served somewhere before in public office. It makes sense that you look at what people did when they were doing most closely what they will be doing. For example the mentality Kerry must have that when he is president he'll fulfill his duties, cause is wasn't important to fulfill his duties as senator* just doesn't cut it. Its either important to fulfill your current duties or not.

    *Go ahead and prove me wrong Kerry and give me a reason to vote for you. I would like to have one, but you offer me nothing. You could have your attendance at meetings released and show that you at least showed up for the 'important' meetings.

  6. Necessary? No, of course not. But useful? Very likely. Military experience can provide very good training for broader activities. It can teach a person how to be a strong leader, and can teach them to actually LOOK at the consequences of their decisions, as it may be lives at stake. So, in that respect, I don't mind Military history being a campaign point. It says something about the person's character. Which is really what you want to vote on, isn't it?

  7. From what I've seen from recent candidates (Kerry, Bush, Dole, Clinton) it only seems to matter to most people if the guy they support has military experience. Democrats thought it was inconsequential when they had Clinton and Republicans had the war hero, now the situation is completely reversed.

  8. People run on a war record for President. There were many presidents that were elected solely on their war experience. Many of these, however, could also be considered among our worst presidents. I'm not trying to insinuate that having military experience makes a worse president, but I certainly don't see it as a requirement.

    Is Kerry worse for actually having a military record compared to Bush? I don't think so because I feel that I would relate with him. If I were to be drafted into a war that I didn't believe in, I assume that I would serve my time. However, I would do my part to protest it and the reasons for going to war that I didn't agree with. I would, however, prefer a position of relative safety like Bush had and, given that opportunity, would be unlikely to give it up. I can relate to both cases and cannot judge them based on this sole requirement since in similar circumstances, I would do the same. Although it may be worth noting that Kerry volunteered for service, I would need to be drafted to fight for a cause that I didn't believe in.

    And skewing Kerry as having questionable ethics or shirking his senatorial duties or "flip-flopping" still doesn't cut it with me. I have yet to see substantial evidence that Kerry is anything but a good citizen, father, and husband. He has fulfilled his duties as a senator and his colleagues speak highly of him. Finally, the whole "flip-flopping" issue is bogus. Kerry never voted for the war. Voting to give the President the authority to go to war is not the same as voting for war. If it were, the reasoning would be that licensing someone for firearms would be sanctioning them to shoot someone.

    I reserve my criticisms of Bush, although they are many, but suffice to say that whether I'm voting on military record or disregarding it, my vote has not changed.

  9. Simple question... simple answer... nope. One of the best Presidents we had in the last 20 years didn't spend of second im the Military. One of the worse Presidents we had in the last 20 years did server in military. Really I think it comes down to preception and how the citizens think a canadaite would use the military. I still place social and demestic issues over a military record.

    Just look at this years race... you have questions about the sitting presidnets service record... and they are legit. Then you have a political motivated group trying to change history... even if it means out right lies (an all together different issue). But it shows honoriable service can be smeared and how questionable service records can be bulsted thru smears...

    The only time military experience would seem to help would be if a career military (wo)man ran for Presidnet. Then you would probally get a large chunk for the vets and current service men and women with out even trying. But it would hurt you on the domestic side of the issues.

    Your favorite blathering idiot,


  10. Of course it's not a necessity. Clinton had no military experience and he did a great job. I don't think Reagan did either, did he? I'd say that he did a good job as president too.

  11. POTUS should have military experience because one of his responsibilities is to be the Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in the world. You cannot possibly understand your military unless you have been part of it, period.

  12. I would diagree with Pedro for two reason

    1.) POTUS also heads up the largest economy in the world... we don't require our presidents to be a nobel laureate in economics.

    2.) The military is just one department in the executive branch. A good president should rely on his department heads to manage the departments... they should have the knowledge...

  13. Samual,

    Boy, if you think the President "heads up" the economy, you're sadly mistaken. And what other departments are you talking about? Although our federal government has consistently exceeded its Constitutional power (and our executive branch, with its bogus cabinet departments and other silliness is not immune), the President is "Commander in chief," negotiates treaties, and makes appointments. That's it. Why do I feel like I'm the only one who has actually read the Constitution?


  14. Unfortunately, the President has a lot of power in determining the economy. His office prepares the budget request each year, and his departments spend most of the money. So most of the money that is wasted is wasted in the executive branch. Executive departments regulate trade and other commerce as well as aviation and communications. Congress has delegated a lot of authority over money (including interest rates and levels of reserves) to the Federal Reserve Board, and the President has a lot of say in who gets to be the chairman of that board.

    Does POTUS "head up" the economy? No, but he damn sure has more influence over it than any other single person (save perhaps the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board).

  15. John, yes, the President submits a budget to Congress. But that proposed budget gets all hacked and mangled by the Congress. And most of our federal expenditures take the form of government entitlements (more than half). How does this taking money from one consumer to be spent by another consumer have any net effect on the economy? Looking at the other half, it's true that the government buys military hardware which boosts the economy, and the President can direct such spending, but the President's choices will not affect one immutable truth: our government *will* buy military hardware, and the President just decides if we'll buy a little more or a little less each year. Hardly a major economic lever to pull.

    You know, there are people who actually believe the President controls whether they have a job or not. Whether they have a nice car or not. Whether their neighbors like them or not. Whether it rains...

    Come on, the President has a lot less power than you think he does.

  16. And more power than he should.

    Although frankly I've seen enough studies that indicate the extremely high correlation between presidential activities and programs and economic impacts that I believe the President has a significant control (perhaps influence, rather) on the economy.