"Fruit Salad" and braggadocio

The I's Have It - An epidemic of egomania strikes America's civilian and military leadership.


It used to be that if you were big, you'd never tell people how big you were because that would be kind of classless, and small. In fact it would be a proof of smallness.

So don't be showy. The big are modest.


There is the issue—small but indicative of something larger—of how members of the U.S. military present themselves, and the awe they consciously encourage in the public and among the political class. The other day on his Daily Beast blog, Andrew Sullivan posted a letter from a reader noting the way officers are now given and relentlessly wear on their dress uniforms ribbons, markers and awards for pretty much everything they do—what used to be called fruit salad. Mr. Sullivan posted two pictures we echo here, one of Gen. David Petraeus and one of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is the Eisenhower of D-Day, of the long slog through Europe in World War II. He didn't seem to see the need to dress himself up and tell you what he'd done. Maybe he thought you knew. He didn't wear all the honors to which he was entitled, though he could have used them to dazzle the masses if that had been what he was interested in.

Top brass sure is brassier than it used to be. And you have to wonder what that's about. Where did the old culture of modesty go? Ulysses S. Grant wore four stars on his shoulder and nothing else on his uniform. And that was a fellow who'd earned a few medals.
Comment: Peggy Noonan in top form. Image source. Contrast Dwight Eisenhower in 1947


  1. This really parallels the historic divide between the "old rich" and the "nouveau riche." Old wealth had some very nice things, but it was gauche to show it off. Nouveau riche--not so much.

    Interesting how a guy like Eisenhower--first generation college grad--managed to absorb the habits of the old wealth, so to speak, but Petraeus did not.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Most of these are what we in the Navy called "geedunk" medals, living and breathing medals/I was there. When my dad was on active duty in the 50's as an Air Force officer, all he ever wore were his wings, none of the many medals to which he was entitled. Small people these days.


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