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Monday, July 18, 2005

"Mush" Dean 

I confess, I read a lot of history. Just about anything will do. I just finished a book about the Mutiny on the Bounty. Rather than just rehashing the Bligh was mean, Christian was put-upon story we're all familiar with, it talks about the situation in the context of the time. It was very interesting, but that's not what I'm writing about at the moment. In the years leading up to World War II, the US Navy, recognizing the good use that the Germans got from their U-Boats, had continued to develop their own submarine forces, but it was not a glamorous way to live in the navy. The subs in use before the war were called Pig Boats because they were so very uncomfortable for the crew. The American military between the wars did not get a lot of money. The money the Navy did get went to more exciting things like battleships and aircraft carriers. The submarine forces had to be happy with the scant money they got after the cool stuff was paid for. So, when doing things like practicing torpedo shooting, there was a strong bias toward making sure the practice torpedo could be recovered rather than toward making practice as much like a warshot as possible. This led to the men commanding subs at the outbreak of the war being a group of very careful cautious men.

After Pearl Harbor submarines were just about the only weapon we had to take the fight to the Japanese. So out they went in their new Fleet Boats and their old Pig Boats to sink the Japanese. But now two things conspired to make these efforts less than productive. The first was that American torpedos were terrible; they didn't work very well at all. But that's a topic for later. The other was the sub commanders were trained to be too cautious. They would let ships get away because they couldn't line up a perfect shot. Time after time they would creep up to an enemy ship and then let it get away without shooting. Eventually the powers that be noticed this lack of desire to close with the enemy and began promoting younger officers to command. Officers that were more concerned with winning the war than not wasting torpedos. People like Mush Morton and Richard O'Kane went out and began sinking Japanese ships at a furious pace.

The leadership of the Democratic party act like a bunch of pre-war sub commanders. They are too busy conserving resources and trying to line up for a perfect shot. They need to be promoted out of their jobs and let younger, more aggressive leaders emerge who know that the opposition is out for blood and are willing to give at least as good as they get. I imagine that when the new generation of sub commanders started getting their commands, the old guard muttered to themselves that the new guys were too risky. They were going to get sunk and waste torpedos and that's just no way to win the war. They were wrong, and the Democrats who think that we shouldn't be as boisterous as Howard "Mush" Dean are wrong too. Speaking of which, I'd love for Howard to say something about the Rove situation .


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