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.
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