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Dead men take no bribes

A while ago, there was a bit of a dust-up about a submarine being named after former president Jimmy Carter. At that point, I came down tentatively in favor of it, in recognition of his honorable service as a nuclear engineer on a submarine. However, a commenter suggested that waiting 25 years after the death of someone before naming anything -- ship, bridge, building, whatever -- in their honor. I said I wouldn't mind that, with a few exceptions (those who died in service to the country, for example).

From the world of fiction, however, we now have an example of just why that might be a good idea.

James Cobb is a damned good writer. He's written four books about the adventures of Amanda Garrett, a naval officer, that are set a few years into the future. They're excellent technothrillers.

The only problem is Amanda Garrett's ship, the first "stealth destroyer." She commands it in the first two books, leaves it in the repair yard for the third, and commands it and a second ship in a task force in the fourth.

As is Naval tradition, the ship is named for a service member who served with some distinction. In this case, the ship is the Cunningham, named for the first Navy pilot to make "ace" (shooting down five enemy aircraft) in Viet Nam. Randy "Duke" Cunningham doesn't make an appearance, per se, but a set of his "wings" insignia are mounted in a frame and given a place of honor on the ship's bridge.

Now, the first book was published back in 1997, when the real "Duke" Cunningham was in his fourth term in Congress. Since then, though, Duke has shown himself to be a hero with feet of clay.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Cunningham -- a powerful member of the House Armed Services Committee -- had sold his home to a defense contractor, for considerably more than it was worth. That same contractor shortly thereafter received several multi-million-dollar contracts from the Pentagon. Further, it was revealed that Cunningham was living in DC aboard a yacht owned by that contractor rent-free. Also, Cunningham was selling merchandise through a web site, including several items bearing the Congressional Seal -- a violation of federal law.

Cunningham insisted he had done nothing wrong, but announced that he was not going to seek re-election to Congress.

It makes me curious about the next Amanda Garrett novel. All of Cobb's books featuring the USS Cunningham are set in years yet to come, but he wrote them before this scandal broke. So they fall in that quasi-surreal time frame where the scandals are in the book's "past," but hadn't happened when they were written. I wonder how Cobb will handle these developments -- and just how furious he is at the real Duke for messing up some truly excellent novels, and possibly killing a great series.


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Comments (8)

Yeah that is a really inter... (Below threshold)

Yeah that is a really interesting problem.

Maybe the new books will just take place on a different ship ? :)

funny though, you really run risks then picking things based on real people for your book. Particularly if they are alive.

R2000
Bathroom Review

and then there are those of... (Below threshold)
trekker:

and then there are those of us who read such novels, and enjoy them for what they represent. Hypothetical possiblities in an alternate reality. Personally I was more impressed with the idea of a woman being in command of a destroyer, I am a firm believer in how genders don't negate the ability to be either agressive.. or protective. Fathers can protect their children and Mothers can beat the crap out of jerks.

And perhaps in the future, they learn that the real cunningham was a war hero and the one in rea life is somehow his evil counterpart from the startrek universe.

Hate to say this but Admira... (Below threshold)
JAT0:

Hate to say this but Admiral Hyman Rickover fired Jimmy Carter after his interview. Rickover had a habit of interviewing all officers assigned to Nuclear submarines - Jimmy failed his interview. Therefore is naval career was all but over.

Later, when the tried to fire Rickover, he was said to have told Carter that he'd still fire him. I think that Carter was president of the Senate at the time>

I would be very reticent to... (Below threshold)
opine6:

I would be very reticent to serve on a ship named after Carter. It is sure to sink, or at a mimimum, to go down in ignominy. Like Carter, himself.

<a href="http://theunitedam... (Below threshold)
TB:
JATO, Jimmy Carter never se... (Below threshold)

JATO, Jimmy Carter never served in the U.S. Senate. He was governor of Georgia before he was President.

The big difference between ... (Below threshold)
j.pickens:

The big difference between a USS Cunningham and a USS Jimmy Carter is that a ship named after the former would be named to commemorate a true military hero who subsequently had some non-military ethical problems. In the latter case, the Carter is named to commemorate a US President who served in a peacetime Navy with no great military accomplishments. Therefore, a USS Cunningham is still a very real possibility, and those who would serve on her would be justifiably proud of the ship's namesake. Now as for the Presidential accomplishments of the Carter's namesake, the sailors will be forever ashamed.

Why wait until 25 years aft... (Below threshold)
Omni:

Why wait until 25 years after their death, so that most of the people who knew and loved the great man, and would most strongly support and take pride in the naming, would be DEAD?




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