by Steve Finefrock, founder Hollywood Conservative Forum
Six weeks after one SEAL mission that commandeered a cargo ship just off Iranian waters, “on a Saturday afternoon, the second SEAL in charge of the group that had boarded the vessel sat and nursed his beer in a nondescript bar in San Diego. The platoon commander finished mowing his lawn. Later, he played soccer with his kids and cooked dinner on the barbecue for his wife. The platoon chief worked in his garage on his 1972 Vega. The petty officers studied for college degrees, practiced with their bands, worked out, or went surfing. If you saw any of them that night or the next morning, you wouldn’t know who they were or what they had done.”
Thus the preface in “Leadership Lessons of the Navy SEALS” by Jeff Cannon and LCDR Jon Cannon – one a writer and advertising vet, the other a vet of commando command. And thus, good translation of combat lessons into the business world. Lessons which Obama the One – OTO – likely has never allowed to pollute his Harvard mind. Much as Clinton didn’t want a uniform of ROTC to contaminate his intellectual skin – thus his manipulation of the college ROTC detachment’s commander.
Thanks to OTO’s loving legions, we see a spate of adoring treatments in the media of SEAL, Navy and general military subjects. Tears welled up watching Katy Couric’s CBS accolade, as with other pieces we’d rarely see so quickly produced and unquestioningly presented were this latest rescue part of Dubya’s menu. The question being asked – How did OTO do? – is the wrong one, for the answer is simply and predictably, Sure Enuf He Done Good!
The Question To Ask: What kind of Navy, or SEAL capacity, or Air Force, or Army, or Marine capability will exist after four [or eight] years of OTO’s suzerainty? The military bequesthed by Dubya made that irrelevant question easy to answer with manic media mantras. The military that would have been bequeathed by President Kerry or President Gore is scary to contemplate.
Questions for OTO to consider arise in this leadership manual’s headings, the lessons organized under chapters such as “Setting Goals” which include these specifics: “Choose a Path or Take Your Chances” and “Get Specific When You Define a Problem” as well as “Define Mission Success” plus a particularly OTO-specific challenge, “Don’t Wait for the No-Risk Solution.”
Under “Organization – Create Structure or Fight Alone” comes these lessons: “Even a Circus Has a Ringmaster” plus “There Is No Team Unless Everyone Knows the Team Colors” and “If a Meeting Is Going Nowhere, Kill It.” Now, OTO, what are your team colors? Who’s the ringmaster? Shall our European ‘brothers’ in the brotherhood of nations allow a ringmaster?
“Leadership – The Hardest Easy Thing” yields: “Forget the Village Concept – One Person Has to Be in Charge” as well as “Make a Goddam Decision” and “Get Comfortable with Chaos”! OTO loves these guides for his dominance of the DNC, the press corps, and his opponents in the GOP, For Europe? Hmmmm, maybe not so enthusiastic. Then there’s “Tell Them When the Ship Is Sinking”! [Sooner than we’d thought]
“The Thundering Herd” includes: “Own Everything You Do” and “It’s Okay; You’re Supposed to Fight with Your Boss” – maybe SEAL commanders can get OTO to understand that particular wisdom in some future controversy, like when he cuts budgets for carrier fleets and SEAL teams. Oh, wait, only military leaders can challenge each other – OTO may never be challenged.
“Building a Thundering Herd” brings “Retain Your Best People or You’ll Pay through the Nose” and “Identify Your Lead Dogs, Feed Them Well, and Build a Pack around Them” and its follow-up doppelganger, “If You Can’t Give Them Fresh Meat, Give Them Reminders of What Fresh Meat Tastes Like” – lessons for nascent GOPsters, by the way! Add “If Sharks Stop Swimming Forward, They Stop Being Sharks” – the reason SEALS and other professionals [in every field] are constantly training when they have no mission on the operations board.
Ditto for our conservative movement – our Thundering Herd is a bit directionless right now. That will change – as we watch OTO learn what Real Men Do. The title of that book’s preface: THE QUIET PROFESSIONALS! And it adds the precision of SEAL missions – just like action-movie fans. Sally Merlin, my screenwriting teacher in Silver Spring, prepped for a class on hard-action films by visiting a video rental store, querying the males renting action films, as to why they were so attracted to kung-fu and similar genres. She cheerily announced her ‘discovery’ to the class of all men – no chicks came to this class, so much for crossover! – with resounding enthusiasm, that the reason was the PRECISION of the hero’s actions.
Every male just shrugged: Yeah, of course, so what! ‘Twas not news to us.
And so the SEAL mission: just enough violence, the precise amount of explosive; “If they destroy anything but their target, everyone else knows and comes running. And then their mission is compromised” according to that preface. It adds: “SEALs are the descendants of the underwater demolitions experts and Navy raiders who crept ashore to sever telephone cables and train lines in World War II, or swam into the shallows off Normandy and Okinawa to clear out mines and antilanding craft traps.”
Known as UDT for underwater demolition team – or just ‘the teams’ then and since – the UDT-1 was readied for assignment to assist the British in India, my father’s childhood home-base [giving him dual citizenship]. He was held back from UDT-1 deployment due to hospitalization, and by time UDT-2 was trained and ready for him to join, he’d signed up for naval carrier pilot training, and thereafter shot down Japs over the Pacific. And getting my dad to talk about his adventures in the teams or flying off the USS Boxer is like pulling teeth out of a tiger’s growling mouth. Such heroes just-don’t-talk-about-it. Unlike politicians, and actors!
They just mow their lawn, fix the Vega, quaff a brewski. The kind of men OTO knew not in his pre-Oval days, as a community organizer, or Harvard perfessor. His is the party filled with supporters who are the folks that have laughed at such men, ridiculed them in comedy routines, and lampooned them behind their backs. Clinton avoided even ROTC cadets, but at least engaged that college detachment commander – OTO has not even that ‘experience’ before becoming Commander in Chief.
At present, he’s gotten lucky – to quote the late Jerry Nachmann: “That’s One in a Row”! Maybe he’ll get a second military success, thanks to the “leftover” results of Dubya – where’s the OTO ranting that shifts this responsibility to the president who preceded him?
Those who’ve done this kind of work recognize each other instinctively – one ex-navy chief who’s now a producer-writer-director with two decades’ credits in Tinseltown, notes that he “can smell it” on someone who’s performed such classified assignments. He has that olfactory capacity, having once acquired the scent from his own Cold War adventures along the fringes of the Iron Curtain.
Obama ain’t got the smell, nor the nose-buds for sensing the scent. In that San Diego bar or backyard barbecue, he’d have not a clue what they do, among those around him. Or even at a Rose Garden barbecue.
This is the man controlling the football in the Oval Office – who will complete his very first four-year job tour in his entire lifetime, if he makes it to the next inaugural. That little fact was noted during campaign time by Tony Blankley – whose ‘allies’ in The Cause did not pick up that notable notation and spread it around. Let’s note it widely now, in op-eds and on-camera commentary. OBAMA ain’t never gone four years in a single job, before moving on to the next one.
Yep, he resigned his U.S. Senate seat well before the four-year mark. He’s got no stomach for any job but commander in chief of Navy SEALs – a man with no sense o’ smell, and no smell on him. He’s earned well the awarding of Nachmann’s One-in-a-Row trophyt.
Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and tingly?
copyright 2009 Steve Finefrock
Finefrock is founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to “Bring the Potomac to the Palisades” on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation’s capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters. Finefrock is proprietor of PhoneBooth: The Smallest Space in Hollywood…