McCain was a mediocre Senator

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McCain was a mediocre Senator

I’ve heard noth­ing but how great it was that Sen­a­tor McCain reached across the aisle dur­ing his time as a Sen­a­tor from 1987 until 2018. Dur­ing this time I also heard he was a “mav­er­ick” and an “inde­pen­dent.” I remem­ber him chal­leng­ing George Bush in the pri­mary and win­ning my home state.

But now when I look at his career, I’m a bit dis­mayed. McCain was in the Navy, and as a Sen­a­tor he sat on the Armed Ser­vice Com­mit­tee, so I fig­ured the Navy would be in a bet­ter place after this time. Let’s take a look.

  • We have the Lit­toral Com­bat Ship, a light ves­sel that is less sur­viv­able than the frigates that it replaced. Some­how this crappy ship sailed through Con­gress, and then every Navy admi­ral in charge of PEO LMW or PEO LCS was some­how never fired or dis­ci­plined (despite requir­ing Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion). It’s expen­sive, doesn’t have enough weapons or crew mem­bers, and almost as big as a destroyer.
  • We have the F-​35. Every­one loves to hate on the F-​35, but again, some­how, every flag offi­cer that ran the pro­gram was never fired, even though Con­gress con­trols their ulti­mate pro­mo­tion, specif­i­cally the Sen­ate. McCain loved the F-​35, until it stopped ben­e­fit­ing his state. Again, McCain would rail on peo­ple at hear­ings, but did he actu­ally do any­thing sub­stan­tive about it? Nope. He even was mad when Trump threat­ened to can­cel the pro­gram and demanded it get back on track.

In the mean time, our ene­mies have super­sonic anti-​ship mis­siles, ground based car­rier killers, and have been pump­ing out newer and bet­ter destroy­ers, frigates and cruis­ers. Our indus­trial base (another Con­gress con­trolled item) has atro­phied, and crappy defense acqui­si­tion process (again, con­trolled by Con­gress) con­tin­ues to make buy­ing any­thing dif­fi­cult. Instead, McCain had time to sup­port changes to mil­i­tary hous­ing allowances that dis­pro­por­tion­ately hurt mil­i­tary women.

But Sen­a­tor McCain was a fighter! He said it like it is! Just see the YouTube where he calls out the LCS!

It’s all a ruse. McCain was a jerk to peo­ple at hear­ings, and he did it solely for polit­i­cal gain. Watch him beat down on (then) VADM Rogers (start video at 41 min­utes)! McCain poten­tially spills clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and asks lead­ing ques­tions. I watched this live and was dis­mayed at his behavior.

Despite all his rude­ness, he never actu­ally made changes. Our acqui­si­tion pro­gram, which brought us LCS and F-​35, remains largely unchanged. The admi­rals and gen­er­als that ran pro­grams he was crit­i­cal of con­tin­ued to make rank, even though that required Sen­ate approval. Com­pared to peo­ple like Carl Vin­son, who built a two ocean Navy that enabled us to go from Pearl Har­bor dis­as­ter to Mid­way in less than a year, Sen­a­tor McCain’s record of actu­ally doing any­thing use­ful for mil­i­tary readi­ness is lack-​luster at best.

I admire CAPT McCain’s ser­vice in the Navy. He did what his coun­try asked, and he didn’t seem to take advan­tage of his dad’s sta­tus. But as a Sen­a­tor, I thought we would have a bet­ter Navy and a bet­ter acqui­si­tion process. Instead, we’re los­ing out to China and (increas­ingly) Rus­sia. Not exactly some­thing to celebrate.


This post rep­re­sents the views of the author and not those of the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of the Navy, or any other gov­ern­ment agency.

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I’ve heard nothing but how great it was that Senator McCain reached across the aisle during his time as a Senator from 1987 until 2018. During this time I also heard he was a “maverick” and an “independent.” I remember him challenging George Bush in the primary and winning my home state.

But now when I look at his career, I’m a bit dismayed. McCain was in the Navy, and as a Senator he sat on the Armed Service Committee, so I figured the Navy would be in a better place after this time. Let’s take a look.

  • We have the Littoral Combat Ship, a light vessel that is less survivable than the frigates that it replaced. Somehow this crappy ship sailed through Congress, and then every Navy admiral in charge of PEO LMW or PEO LCS was somehow never fired or disciplined (despite requiring Senate confirmation). It’s expensive, doesn’t have enough weapons or crew members, and almost as big as a destroyer.
  • We have the F-35. Everyone loves to hate on the F-35, but again, somehow, every flag officer that ran the program was never fired, even though Congress controls their ultimate promotion, specifically the Senate. McCain loved the F-35, until it stopped benefiting his state. Again, McCain would rail on people at hearings, but did he actually do anything substantive about it? Nope. He even was mad when Trump threatened to cancel the program and demanded it get back on track.

In the mean time, our enemies have supersonic anti-ship missiles, ground based carrier killers, and have been pumping out newer and better destroyers, frigates and cruisers. Our industrial base (another Congress controlled item) has atrophied, and crappy defense acquisition process (again, controlled by Congress) continues to make buying anything difficult. Instead, McCain had time to support changes to military housing allowances that disproportionately hurt military women.

But Senator McCain was a fighter! He said it like it is! Just see the YouTube where he calls out the LCS!

It’s all a ruse. McCain was a jerk to people at hearings, and he did it solely for political gain. Watch him beat down on (then) VADM Rogers (start video at 41 minutes)! McCain potentially spills classified information and asks leading questions. I watched this live and was dismayed at his behavior.

Despite all his rudeness, he never actually made changes. Our acquisition program, which brought us LCS and F-35, remains largely unchanged. The admirals and generals that ran programs he was critical of continued to make rank, even though that required Senate approval. Compared to people like Carl Vinson, who built a two ocean Navy that enabled us to go from Pearl Harbor disaster to Midway in less than a year, Senator McCain’s record of actually doing anything useful for military readiness is lack-luster at best.

I admire CAPT McCain’s service in the Navy. He did what his country asked, and he didn’t seem to take advantage of his dad’s status. But as a Senator, I thought we would have a better Navy and a better acquisition process. Instead, we’re losing out to China and (increasingly) Russia. Not exactly something to celebrate.


This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Please take time to donate to Da Tech Guy!!