If Andrea Tantaros Had Served In the Military She Would Not Look Like An Idiot

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

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It began innocently enough. During Thursday’s GOP debate Jeb Bush was reciting platitudes about dealing with ISIS:

Prior to that, in the Reagan Library, I gave a detailed plan. Exactly what to do as it relates to ISIS. And it is from the lessons from history that we do this because if we allow this to fester, we’re going to have Islamic terrorism, multi-generations of it all across this country. The caliphate of ISIS has to be destroyed, which means we need to arm directly to Kurds, imbed our troops with the Iraqi military, re engage with the Sunni tribal leaders. Get the lawyers off the damn backs of the military once and for all.


None of this should be particularly earth-shattering. Somehow, it really set one of the hosts of the FoxNews program, Outnumbered, on a tirade more akin to something that you’d have heard from Cindy Sheehan in 2006 than you would expect from a seemingly lucid person.

According to her online bio, Tarantos did not serve in the military. I’m open to being corrected on her lack of military service but I find no indication that she served in the military. (h/t to Alex Griswold of Mediaite.com for a great gag that I’m shamelessly stealing.) This is simply garden variety chickenhawking. This is the kind of argument leftwing douches use to criticize any sensible military operation. George P. Bush is 39 years old. If he were going to serve in the military at all that event would have happened when he was 18 (enlisted) or 22 (commissioned officer). But wait, there is more. George P. Bush is actually a Naval Reserve officer:

George P. Bush, a nephew of President Bush who was a hit on the campaign trail, has been accepted in the Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer and has begun the process of being commissioned for eight years of service.

Not only is he currently a Navy officer, he served an eight month tour in Afghanistan. Case closed, right? Wrong. Goal post status: MOVED.


So, let’s go to her Facebook page for the killer argument she has:

Jeb Bush wants to send U.S. troops back to Iraq. Last night he said he wants to “embed” more American troops in the country. When I asked if Bush would be willing to embed his son this time around, the campaign responded by pointing out his son, George P. Bush, served in Afghanistan.

The men and women who choose to serve our great Republic are to be commended, but George P. Bush’s service falls into the realm of textbook special treatment for children of ‘political dynasties’ with direct commission and online classes, not exactly standard fare in the US military. His three weeks of direct commission training is far less than a Plebe receives prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy.

I appreciate George P’s service – regardless of how outside the norm it is – but it most certainly offers no inoculation against political critique.

Wow. Those goalposts have been moved so far that they are no longer visible on the playing field.

If Tantaros had served in the military she would be familiar with “direct commissioning” programs. If her boyfriend, David Navarro, had served in the military he could have told her. But as neither Tantaros nor her significant other have served in the military, Tantaros is out of luck. These programs bring in people with desirable skills to serve a commissioned officers. There is nothing nefarious here. The direct commissioning program for intelligence officers into the Naval Reserve has been around for ages:


Reserve Component:

Selectees must complete the following:

a. The two-week Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course at Newport, RI. within one year of commissioning.

b. Information Dominance Basic Course (IDBC), 3 weeks in course length, in addition to Division Officer Leadership Course, 1 week in course length, at Center for Information Dominance Unit Hampton Roads (CIDUHR), Dam Neck, VA. Required for officers commissioning after August 2015.

c. Naval Intelligence Officer Basic Course (NIOBC), 20 weeks in course length, at Dam Neck, VA or NIOBC Integrated Learning Environment (ILE), modularized version of the active duty NIOBC course offered during drill weekends and NIOBC ILE Phase II (2 week capstone) at San Diego, CA. Officers have 24 months from the commencement of NIOBC-ILE to complete all required training.

d. Naval Intelligence Professional qualification (NAVEDTRA 43547) within 36 months from date of commissioning.

e. Information Dominance Warfare Officer Qualification within 60 months as of the date of direct commissioning as an Information Dominance Corps officer.

If you visit the web page you can see that Bush was commissioned as a “special duty restricted line” officer. This means he is not eligible to command at sea or to serve outside his particular area of expertise. The short school Tantaros referred to, and I wouldn’t have to point this out if Tantaros had served in the military, is designed strictly to give very basic military instruction so they don’t beclown themselves (even though they inevitably do). From that point on the training regime for regular officers, reserve officers on active duty, and direct commissioned officers is identical.


This is just bizarre. Tantaros, who has never served in the military, criticizes George P. Bush for not serving. Then she finds out he is actually a commissioned officer in the Navy Reserve and an Afghanistan veteran. Then she claims he received special favors in his training. Which he did not. Then, well, crickets.

I’m a veteran. Unlike young men who turned 18 in 1972 or earlier, I’m a veteran by choice. I volunteered. No one made me join. I had a lot of fun and I didn’t serve to get the thanks of strangers. And, quite honestly, no one should be made to go into the military absent a compelling national security crisis. That simply is not how Americans have typically ordered their lives.

On the other hand, I don’t believe that being a veteran gives you any particular insight into military or defense policy beyond some affinity for what the young men and young women sent in to very dangerous areas will experience. As Frederick the Great said, paraphrased, “I once had an ass that followed me on a dozen campaigns and at the end of that time he was still an ass.” The idea that you have to have served or that you have to have children who are currently on active duty in order to be in favor of a military conflict, vote for a military conflict, or lead the nation during a military conflict just beggars the imagination. But, for a 39-year-old man to unplug himself from his life, and take a huge cut in pay and professional status, takes more of a commitment that simply doing something for p0litical advantage.


Tantaros, though, engages in a particularly despicable form of the attack. She slanders both Jeb and his son and rather than admit error she slanders them yet again. She really should get a job at MSNBC or RT or al-Jazeera, she would feel very comfortable there.



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