Sans Snuggie, I caught a few other interviews recently. Nope, not Elizabeth Edwards and Oprah. Or Sarah Palin lounging with the dudes from American Chopper on a grizzly bear blanket. Actually, the ones I am thinking of have been with Joe Sestak, another Congressman, of whom I didn’t know anything about beforehand. And I feel like I should have. He is rational and slow-to-judge on-air, definitely a fox (in the intellectual sense) in my book. His background is unique and distinguished: he was a three-star admiral in the Navy, which makes him the highest-ranking military man ever to serve in Congress. How has that not gotten a bit more press?
Sestak represents Pennsylvania’s 7th district, which gives him dominion over the King of Prussia Mall. He’s been on TV saying a few smart, possibly popular, possibly unpopular things lately. Compared to these shenanigans, it’s like the difference between listening to Brian Williams and Lauren Conrad explain current Russian-Georgian relations.
First up, on CNN, Sestak spoke to the empirically douchey-and-detached Rick Sanchez, but Sanchez dug deep and made the segment watchable. The exchange focused on the Somali pirates and tracked Capt. Richard Phillips (who was in the Oval Office Saturday) as he testified of the hostage crisis he endured.
Sestak was adamant that arming the top 5 officers on a freighter won’t solve the problem, that the hostiles will simply escalate to RPGs over time or could use shoulder-armed missiles tomorrow. “We have 4 ships [near Somalia], we can place more, but… we have to transform to the unmanned air vehicles that can see down everywhere.”
“If you want to squash this, it will take the U.S. Navy.” He backs that up with the best source in the country, explaining that this is what navies are for: “The US Constitution says, ‘Maintain navies. Raise armies, when you need them.’ ”
In another CNN appearance with Sanchez last week, Sestak made an unexpected, but shrewd comparison between the American response to airplane hijackings and maritime hijackings:
“They say we don’t have enough capacity for the U.S. Navy to [handle piracy]. Today, on the Navy’s Web site, there’s 104 ships it says that are forward-deployed overseas. We have got four off the coast of Somalia. What are our other ships doing? What are they fighting?
What are they supporting that we can’t have more heft there? One way to do this, for example, might be just to convoy the 50 ships that go north once a day and 50 ships that go south.
I’m worried that I know that in the testimony today they said that less than one-half of 1 percent of the 33,000 ships over a year that go near there are ever suspect to a pirate attack. But think about this.
But think about aircraft. I know this is not a perfect analogy. But there’s 10 million aircraft, U.S. aircraft that do a flight every year. Only three were hijacked in 2009. That’s 0.00004 percent. And look at how our government reacted.”
The convoy analogy is astute and I trust its efficacy coming from an Admiral. Tried and true, it worked in both World Wars. Let’s see 3 guys in a rowboat with a motor screwed on take down an alert battleship.