The last time we visited the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, things seemed ready to slip into relative calm. Yes, the captain has breached policy and navy protocol as well as the chain of commend, but he had received the necessary punishment that he had to know was coming. His gambit had worked, focusing sufficient media and public attention on ship’s plight to goad the Navy into acting with more compassion and dispatch, getting the Wuhan-infected sailors off the carrier and into treatment. The Acting Navy Secretary had made the proper, if unpopular call, and the President had backed him up. Yes, the mainstream media was stirring the pot and making it seem like the captain had been unfairly punished—didn’t the cheers of his crew prove that?—but the public is used to this dance by now: the “Whatever the President and His Appointees Do Is Wrong Waltz.” Here was how the Times, the national “paper of record,’ described Captain Crozier’s firing yesterday, for example:
“Mr. Modly’s response last Thursday was to fire Captain Crozier, accusing him of circumventing the Navy’s traditional chain of command by copying more than 20 people on the emailed letter.”
Fake news. The use of the word “accuse” falsely suggest that there was any doubt in the matter. Crozer did circumvent the Navy’s chain of command by copying more than 20 people on the emailed letter, ensuring that it would reach the public. This was a major breach of security and military procedure, a firing offense in every branch.
And of course it was deliberate.
But I digress. The inability of the Times and virtually every other news source should be an assumption by now. That’s a different Ethics Train Wreck.
Then, for reasons only the gerbils running in the big wheel in his head could answer, Acting Secretary Modly flew to Guam where the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt was docked, and addressed the crew of the aircraft carrier unsung the ship’s internal loudspeaker system. Accounts say that his statements were profane and defensive; one crew member described it as “whiny, upset, irritated, condescending.” In the process, Modly attacked the integrity of Captain Crozier, at one point saying Cozier was “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer” if he thought that letter wasn’t going to leak, or, in the a;alternative, “that he did this on purpose.” He attacked Joe Biden, who has repeatedly criticized Crozier’s removal in his lucid moments. This was also wildly inappropriate.
After that astoundingly petty, unprofessional, unmilitary rant, Modly had to be fired, and he was, though he was allowed to resign. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper accepted Modly’s resignation the next day, as it was clear that he could not escape the uproar from inside and outside the Navy. “He resigned of his own accord, putting the Navy and the sailors above self so that the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution, can move forward,” Esper said in a letter.
But there is more damage to come. On the cognitive dissonance scale—
…Modly just dropped to the bottom. Anything associated with hi, including the firing of Crozier, fell along with him. As the firing of Crozier falls, Crozier rises. Predictably, since he is addicted to mucking around with military discipline and can’t resist playing what he thinks is a winning hand, often doing flip-flops and back-flips to get one, President Trump is now describing Crozier’s defiant letter as him having a “bad day.” After the obligatory investigation, I’ll be surprised if Crozier’s firing isn’t reversed, thus permanently undermining Navy tradition and policy.
Good job, everybody.