A bad look for the swampers: Moving against Gallagher after Trump's message sent was very clear

Contrary to the media narrative, confusion reigns supreme in the Washington swamp, not the White House, now that the Navy has or hasn't moved to strip Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher of his Trident pin, and one or two officials have reportedly threatened to resign over President Trump's clemency to the man who was convicted of posing for a picture with a dead terrorist. To those of us on the outside, it looks like insubordination to the commander in chief.

Here's the New York Times:

The secretary of the Navy and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if plans to expel a commando from the elite unit in a war crimes case are halted by President Trump, administration officials said Saturday.

The high-level pushback to Mr. Trump’s unambiguous assertion on Twitter this past week that the commando, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, should remain in the unit was an extraordinary development in what was already an extraordinary case, one with few precedents in the history of presidential relations with the American military.

Here's Fox News:

However, officials say that The Times was inaccurate in reporting that [SEAL commander Rear Admiral Collin] Green threatened to resign over the Gallagher disagreement. Only [Navy secretary Richard V.] Spencer -- not Green -- made such a threat, they said.

But Spencer pushed back on claims that he could possibly resign.

"I would like to further state that in no, way, shape, or form did I ever threat to resign," he tweeted Saturday night. "That has been incorrectly reported in the press."

...and...

Spencer, a political appointee and civilian, has threatened to resign because he wants to see the process play out formally inside the Pentagon, according to officials.

“A tweet is not a written order,” one official said about the president telling the SEALs over Twitter this week not to remove Gallagher from the SEAL teams and take his Trident pin away.

However, Spencer denied threatening to resign at a defense conference in Halifax, Canada, on Saturday, according to reporters present.

Back and forth, and who knows who's right, who knows who's trying to cover their keister or feeling the heat? The kvetching about presidential tweets certainly stands out. Minions in all organizations always seek to know what the boss thinks. Tweets are perfect hints. They're better than surprises. But the whining seems to be an indicator that they'd rather have surprises.

To the rest of us, there's a very funny look about this whole thing, a look of a swampy Washington brass that just can't get it into their heads that Trump is actually president and commander in chief.

You know who we're talking about -- the pencil-pushers, the kind of illogical i-dotting bureaucrats who make combat troops lives' hell, the military bureaucrats immortalized in novels like Catch-22 or movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

Because here's the picture we've been following so far: President Trump moves to pardon a mostly acquitted Navy SEAL accused of a host of war crimes. After a heavy-duty, highly publicized (at least in San Diego, where I am) trial, a surprise verdict found him 'not guilty' except in one minor instance of posing for a picture with a dead terrorist. Presumably, Trump's pardon was his commander-in-chief's call to restore the man's military career and make things right for him.

Now, it's possible and understandable that the military brass may be concerned about the threat to general order. How are they going to be able to send men into combat with the orders of not shooting civilians if Gallagher, whom they still think is guilty, is allowed to walk? Their fears, though, are overblown: Gallagher is just one guy in unusual circumstances. It's hard to think others are going to go commit war crimes convinced that Trump will pardon them, because he probably won't. Trump just wanted to use his commander in chief prerogative to show some mercy to a poor schmoe combat vet in difficult circumstances to signal that his political priorities are for the troop welfare. One guy isn't going to throw the machinery off. After all, if a genuine military traitor like Bowe Bergdahl could get mercy from President Obama with no complaints from these same people, it's not going to kill them if Gallagher does.

To the rest of us, Trump was sending the message that the man was a combat veteran, a lot of bad things can go on in combat, and the weight of the man's distinguished military record was not to be sullied on Trump's watch over a minor violation of protocol, as if the feelings of leftwing lawyers outraged about terrorist casualties should be the most important thing. It's a very significant signal of a shift in emphasis, from leftwing lawyers reigning supreme in combat to prioritization of the welfare of the boots on the ground. That's what's visible here.

It was, yes, an act of mercy, because there probably was quite a bit that Gallagher did that he shouldn't have done. There may be people who are convinced he did all he was accused of doing at his trial. There may be some fury that he apparently got away with it.

But instead of accepting a) the jury's verdict and b) the commander in chief's pardon, two very strong legal messages to them, the Navy brass moved on the man again, quickly, as if still looking for a way to Get Him, by taking away his SEAL Triton.

Their counter-message: That neither Trump nor a jury are good enough for them, they make the rules here, the commander in chief stuff is nonsense, and Gallagher is not going to win. As some yell about the threat to general order from Gallagher's acts, there's now the specter that too many swampers have their rice bowl threatened if anything different from their reading of events prevails. They're going to Get Gallagher, no matter what, and their swift move toward that end signals they saw an immediate threat to their own authority. Oh, and if they're stopped on this one, they'll try again.

That'll teach Trump who's still boss. 

Yet with a military brass unable to accept either the word of a jury or the unsuble hint from the famously unsuble commander in chief, now we have the specter of insubordination, a military that lives by its own rules now instead of those of the commander they are sworn to serve under. They may have it in their heads that they're boss and their rules and disciplines are most important, but what's the value of any of that if they don't bother to listen to their commander in chief?

It's actually a situation that calls for President Trump to send them another unsubtle message since they couldn't get the first one: By getting rid of them. Firing a few of them, same way President Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, might just deliver the message that they need to accept that Trump really is the commander in chief. A commander in chief, above all, needs to be commander in chief, and if this is the only way to teach them, then this is how it has to be done.

How many messages does it take for these people to recognize that they aren't the boss here? Regardless of the merits of the case, they've got a distinctly unsubordinate air about them and some behaviorial indicipline here badly in need of curbing.

Contrary to the media narrative, confusion reigns supreme in the Washington swamp, not the White House, now that the Navy has or hasn't moved to strip Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher of his Trident pin, and one or two officials have reportedly threatened to resign over President Trump's clemency to the man who was convicted of posing for a picture with a dead terrorist. To those of us on the outside, it looks like insubordination to the commander in chief.

Here's the New York Times:

The secretary of the Navy and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if plans to expel a commando from the elite unit in a war crimes case are halted by President Trump, administration officials said Saturday.

The high-level pushback to Mr. Trump’s unambiguous assertion on Twitter this past week that the commando, Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, should remain in the unit was an extraordinary development in what was already an extraordinary case, one with few precedents in the history of presidential relations with the American military.

Here's Fox News:

However, officials say that The Times was inaccurate in reporting that [SEAL commander Rear Admiral Collin] Green threatened to resign over the Gallagher disagreement. Only [Navy secretary Richard V.] Spencer -- not Green -- made such a threat, they said.

But Spencer pushed back on claims that he could possibly resign.

"I would like to further state that in no, way, shape, or form did I ever threat to resign," he tweeted Saturday night. "That has been incorrectly reported in the press."

...and...

Spencer, a political appointee and civilian, has threatened to resign because he wants to see the process play out formally inside the Pentagon, according to officials.

“A tweet is not a written order,” one official said about the president telling the SEALs over Twitter this week not to remove Gallagher from the SEAL teams and take his Trident pin away.

However, Spencer denied threatening to resign at a defense conference in Halifax, Canada, on Saturday, according to reporters present.

Back and forth, and who knows who's right, who knows who's trying to cover their keister or feeling the heat? The kvetching about presidential tweets certainly stands out. Minions in all organizations always seek to know what the boss thinks. Tweets are perfect hints. They're better than surprises. But the whining seems to be an indicator that they'd rather have surprises.

To the rest of us, there's a very funny look about this whole thing, a look of a swampy Washington brass that just can't get it into their heads that Trump is actually president and commander in chief.

You know who we're talking about -- the pencil-pushers, the kind of illogical i-dotting bureaucrats who make combat troops lives' hell, the military bureaucrats immortalized in novels like Catch-22 or movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

Because here's the picture we've been following so far: President Trump moves to pardon a mostly acquitted Navy SEAL accused of a host of war crimes. After a heavy-duty, highly publicized (at least in San Diego, where I am) trial, a surprise verdict found him 'not guilty' except in one minor instance of posing for a picture with a dead terrorist. Presumably, Trump's pardon was his commander-in-chief's call to restore the man's military career and make things right for him.

Now, it's possible and understandable that the military brass may be concerned about the threat to general order. How are they going to be able to send men into combat with the orders of not shooting civilians if Gallagher, whom they still think is guilty, is allowed to walk? Their fears, though, are overblown: Gallagher is just one guy in unusual circumstances. It's hard to think others are going to go commit war crimes convinced that Trump will pardon them, because he probably won't. Trump just wanted to use his commander in chief prerogative to show some mercy to a poor schmoe combat vet in difficult circumstances to signal that his political priorities are for the troop welfare. One guy isn't going to throw the machinery off. After all, if a genuine military traitor like Bowe Bergdahl could get mercy from President Obama with no complaints from these same people, it's not going to kill them if Gallagher does.

To the rest of us, Trump was sending the message that the man was a combat veteran, a lot of bad things can go on in combat, and the weight of the man's distinguished military record was not to be sullied on Trump's watch over a minor violation of protocol, as if the feelings of leftwing lawyers outraged about terrorist casualties should be the most important thing. It's a very significant signal of a shift in emphasis, from leftwing lawyers reigning supreme in combat to prioritization of the welfare of the boots on the ground. That's what's visible here.

It was, yes, an act of mercy, because there probably was quite a bit that Gallagher did that he shouldn't have done. There may be people who are convinced he did all he was accused of doing at his trial. There may be some fury that he apparently got away with it.

But instead of accepting a) the jury's verdict and b) the commander in chief's pardon, two very strong legal messages to them, the Navy brass moved on the man again, quickly, as if still looking for a way to Get Him, by taking away his SEAL Triton.

Their counter-message: That neither Trump nor a jury are good enough for them, they make the rules here, the commander in chief stuff is nonsense, and Gallagher is not going to win. As some yell about the threat to general order from Gallagher's acts, there's now the specter that too many swampers have their rice bowl threatened if anything different from their reading of events prevails. They're going to Get Gallagher, no matter what, and their swift move toward that end signals they saw an immediate threat to their own authority. Oh, and if they're stopped on this one, they'll try again.

That'll teach Trump who's still boss. 

Yet with a military brass unable to accept either the word of a jury or the unsuble hint from the famously unsuble commander in chief, now we have the specter of insubordination, a military that lives by its own rules now instead of those of the commander they are sworn to serve under. They may have it in their heads that they're boss and their rules and disciplines are most important, but what's the value of any of that if they don't bother to listen to their commander in chief?

It's actually a situation that calls for President Trump to send them another unsubtle message since they couldn't get the first one: By getting rid of them. Firing a few of them, same way President Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, might just deliver the message that they need to accept that Trump really is the commander in chief. A commander in chief, above all, needs to be commander in chief, and if this is the only way to teach them, then this is how it has to be done.

How many messages does it take for these people to recognize that they aren't the boss here? Regardless of the merits of the case, they've got a distinctly unsubordinate air about them and some behaviorial indicipline here badly in need of curbing.