The civilian and military figures who toil away day after day in the vast recesses of the Executive Branch become famous when the president fires them — the more publicly the better. Trump’s abrupt ham-handed firing of FBI Director James Comey guarantees that Comey’s name will outlast his accomplishments. Other famous and not-so-famous officials have “enjoyed” the same fate and they too, long after their deeds were forgotten remain celebrated in story and song.
The following characters can best be described as victims of presidential dyspepsia. (aka indigestion)
The first, General Douglas MacArthur, was a five -star general, World War II hero, Medal of Honor winner (highest military decoration) and national hero. All that was not enough to save him from President Truman’s wrath and an ignominious departure. Despite a public outcry, “Dugout Doug” was out.
The second was oddly enough a woman. Serving as Commander of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Brigadier General Janice Karpinsky was fired by President Bush and her rank reduced to Colonel when photographs surfaced showing horrendous mistreatment of prisoners by the guards she employed. She subsequently blamed her troubles on interference from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and civilian contractors in the prison.
In 2010, General Stanley A. McChrystal learned the downside of shooting off his mouth — in this case mocking the White House and complaining about war strategy to a Rolling Stone reporter. On the theory that one good turn deserves another, President Obama fired him.
Upstage the first lady, allow two aspiring reality show stars to crash a 2009 state dinner and pouf you’re gone: the fate of the Obamas’ first social secretary, Desiree Rogers. Lesson learned — blow your own horn at your peril.
Archibald Cox, special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation, earned a one-way ticket to fame in May, 1973, when he was fired by President Nixon in what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Nixon not only fired Cox, he abolished his office (fired his office?). Cox’s sin? Requesting Nixon’s private tapes.
In a traditional U.S. tug of war, Secretary of War, Harry Woodring, opposed US involvement in World War II (before Pearl Harbor). FDR, like most other presidents given the opportunity to be the Commander-in-Chief of a military force, was having none of that pacifist hoey and, in line with his upper-class lineage, did not fire Woodring outright but requested his resignation which he received on June 19, 1941.
To end at the beginning — with the firing of another FBI director (the only other one in the history of the Republic). 1993 was the year and Clinton was the President. Clinton inherited William Sessions from the previous administration of Ronald Reagan. That was probably the real reason he got the boot although there were vague allegations of ethical improprieties (phonying up his expense report). Running afoul of the Clinton administration did not guarantee a long career as William Sessions found out six months later when Clinton’s showed him the door.
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