There are few things that with clarity show the institutional narcissism of the ruling class than the naming of ships. Sure, there is a long history of naming ships for political gain - but with rare to any exception, it was for reasons of city, state or regional pride by naming a ship after the actual location, or a hero of local importance. Now it is just plain personal political vanity by proxy.
A House Republican introduced a measure Tuesday that would prevent the U.S. Navy from naming ships after lawmakers who have not served in the military or as president.Of course, it died. Of course.
The measure would have prevented civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis and former Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin from receiving the honor but a House committee decided to pass up the opportunity to give the measure a vote in the full House.
The naming of ships or other government facilities after lawmakers sometimes has been controversial in recent years. Lewis’s status as a civil rights icon, which the Navy cited in its announcement, could have added more tension to the issue.
“Naming this ship after John Lewis is a fitting tribute to a man who has, from his youth, been at the forefront of progressive social and human rights movements in the U.S., directly shaping both the past and future of our nation,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement in January.
The measure was introduced as an amendment to the annual defense spending bill scheduled to be debated in the House this week. The proposal would have prevent the Pentagon from using any federal funds to name ships for “any member of Congress, living or deceased, unless such member served as the President of the United States or as a member of the Armed Forces.”
Members of the House Rules Committee decided Tuesday evening not to include the Palazzo proposal in a package of amendments that will get a vote in the full House to vote later this week.
Hard to define where it started in the modern habit, but I had the first sour taste in my mouth with the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). Yes, important men to the Navy, but still - politicians that have zero inspiration this century outside Beltway bellybutton pickers.
Giffords, Chavez, Levin, Lewis - all a sort of political self-(use what term you wish here) not worth of our nation or our Navy. Or, perhaps we have degenerated to the point that it actually is, and I am too much of an optimist to see it. Yes, Sal the optimist. Mark your calendar, or weep.