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Fear of Trump Delayed Promotions of Women Generals

3 min read

Disgraced former president Trump is well-known for his intense dislike — and fear — of powerful women, from Speaker Pelosi to the Squad to any woman journalist who questions him. So it comes as no surprise to see this story in today’s New York Times:

Promotions for Female Generals Were Delayed Over Fears of Trump’s Reaction

Last fall, the Pentagon’s most senior leaders agreed that two top generals should be promoted to elite, four-star commands.

For then-Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the tricky part was that both of the accomplished officers were women. In 2020 America under President Trump, the two Pentagon leaders feared that any candidates other than white men for jobs mostly held by white men might run into turmoil once their nominations got to the White House.

Esper and Milley wanted to promote these women — Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost of the Air Force and Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson of the Army — because they were the best. But they also knew that being the best is exactly what Trump hates about women. So they played a waiting game:

So the Pentagon officials agreed on an unusual strategy: They held back their recommendations until after the November elections, betting that if Joseph R. Biden Jr. won, he and his aides would be more supportive of the Pentagon picks than Mr. Trump, who had feuded with Mr. Esper and has a history of disparaging women. They stuck to the plan even after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Esper six days after the election.

Now that the Malignant Misogynistic Mangoturd has been removed from the scene, the promotions are going forward:

In the next few weeks, Mr. Esper’s successor, Lloyd J. Austin III, and General Milley are expected to send the delayed recommendations to the White House, where officials are expected to endorse the nominations and formally submit them to the Senate for approval.

Former acting Secretary Miller denied Trump’s misogyny was a consideration, saying that “It was about timing considerations, not that they were women.” But he wasn’t even in the room until after the election. And refer back to the opening quote: the Pentagon wanted these women promoted “last fall” — plenty of time.

Another consideration could have been that Trump had “soured” on both Esper and Milley by then, and wouldn’t have listened to any recommendations they made, not to mention that these two generals were not personally loyal to him.

Still, one aspect unmentioned by the Times that I find encouraging is that the Pentagon, which has a long history of denigrating its female personnel, was so willing to go to bat for these two women that it worked out a strategy to help them.

The times (even if not the Times) they are a-changin’.

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