I’ll skip the easy jokes about bone spurs that the headline inspires and get to the heart of this. What am I missing in my understanding of what happened here that somehow entitles Richard Spencer to get on his high horse and lecture everyone else about “good order of discipline”? As far as I know, this was a straightforward dispute between Trump and the Pentagon until Spencer intervened. Trump wanted Eddie Gallagher to retain his SEAL Trident Pin, no questions asked; Mark Esper lobbied Trump to let the Navy hold a formal administrative review of whether Gallagher should keep the pin, as is standard procedure. Spencer waltzed in and, behind Esper’s back, apparently offered Trump a compromise. If the president allowed the administrative process to play out, Spencer would make sure that it ended with Gallagher keeping the pin. It was the process that Spencer was worried about, not the result in Gallagher’s particular case.
But … if he was promising Trump a certain result before the review began, then the review would have been a sham. That’s worse for good order and discipline than having Trump issue special exemptions for his hand-picked favorites like Gallagher. If the president does an end-around the Navy’s disciplinary process, well, there’s nothing to stop him — but at least sailors in that case can trust that *if* a disciplinary proceeding is allowed to take place, the result will be fair. Under Spencer’s proposal, they wouldn’t have that assurance. They’d be left to wonder if any particular review was quietly rigged behind the scenes by the brass to ensure an outcome favored by the president.
Note that Spencer doesn’t deny that he made this offer to Trump, that Gallagher would be allowed to retire as a SEAL if POTUS let the Navy do its work. So what am I missing? Did Spencer have something else in mind that would somehow preserve the integrity of the disciplinary review while also … guaranteeing a specific outcome?