May 08, 2003



The owner of the Diary of a Slow-Motion Aneurysm (hereafter known as "Slow-Motion Aneurysm Man" or "SMAM", but who still occasionally goes by the name Bill Quick) has re-banned a couple of my IPs again and deleted Flit from his blogroll. He apparently thinks I can't see him now; yawn. Keep trying, Bill... I'm sure you'll catch me eventually, and then that'll show me. By the way, the unit of measure you're looking for in your 8:22 a.m. post is generally spelt "tons," or if metric, "tonnes." "Tones" is right out...

Posted by BruceR at 12:56 PM



Okay, the three suggestions offered thus far in Flitters for other presidents who have appeared in uniform before the present instance (see two posts down):

*Washington during the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion. Certainly probable, although Washington wasn't actually the field commander (that was Harry Lee); he just accompanied the army as titular commander-in-chief, itself an early example of the civilianization of the presidency, as a matter of fact. It's important to note, also, that in the 1794 uprising, there was technically no U.S. Army involvement to speak of (Washington's "Watermelon Army" was all militia volunteers) so everyone else with him would have been a citizen-soldier, too.

*Madison at Bladensburg, 1814. Madison was famous for wearing nothing but black, all the time, kinda like Johnny Cash. It's extremely unlikely he changed that habit, even in the defense of Washington (again, a defense he did not himself command, leaving that to the famous military incompetents Armstrong and Winder.) Contemporary sources reported he wore civilian clothes throughout the fall of Washington. It is known that Secretary of State James Monroe, however, did show up in his old army uniform, causing some confusion in the chain of command.

*Grant in the White House. Apparently at least one early photo exists of President Grant in uniform. Given that Grant rarely wore a proper uniform even when he was a general, I'm almost surprised by this. Certainly it's fair to say that Grant could have worn his uniform a lot more often than he did while President without anyone minding. But it's fair to say he and Washington might both have had occasional lapses of procedure while in office. I think it's also fair to say, though, on the basis of the evidence in thus far, that Bush is the first president to bend the rules in over a century, the first non-former senior military commander to do it, and the first to do so for political effect. (Again, if you consider a flight suit a uniform, which brings us back to the first post.)

UPDATE: You can see that Grant picture here (it's not a photo, it turns out). It's hard to see this as conclusive that Grant broke with this particular tradition... it's only "presumably" in the White House to start with, and there's no evidence Grant or his family actually posed for this image. It could well have been an artist's rendering of what he thought the president would look like. That puts Bush back to "first since Washington" status.

Yes, yes, I know, obviously if you're flying a plane, you need a flight suit. But Republican supporters and bloggers are being rather disingenuous when they say that there's no precedent being set here. OF COURSE there's one being set... that's the whole point, surely. He's the first president who can fly a jet plane, and he did so to his advantage. Still, the supposed Clinton parallels keep coming, but boy... what a stretch that is.

In Canada, the military Code of Service Discipline applies, among other cases, to any personnel in uniform, regardless of location or paid status. All I know is that if I saw a soldier commit a crime garbed as Bush was, it would be a clear cut case of military law applying. But if I saw one commit a crime dressed as Clinton used to (customized bomber jacket over civilian attire, for instance), civil criminal law would certainly be the applicable statute unless other circumstances pertained. That's as good a definition of a "uniform" as I can think of; it's not even a close call. But I confess I'm not up on the American UCMJ provisions on this matter. So hang in there, Glenn... you're hardly in the wrong.

UPDATE #2: Now this is a uniform, too, apparently, or so Sullivan says. Someone's protesting too much.

Posted by BruceR at 12:23 PM




Posted by BruceR at 11:54 AM