WASHINGTON ― As President Donald Trump entered his second 100 days in office, he described an example of his common-sense leadership: New U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, he decreed, would not use high-tech electromagnetic catapults that only “Albert Einstein” could understand, but would go back to old-fashioned steam power.
So what did the Navy do with this plain-spoken directive from the commander-in-chief? Absolutely nothing.
When Trump visited Norfolk, Virginia, some weeks later to commission the new supercarrier Gerald Ford, she was outfitted with high-tech electromagnetic catapults to launch planes off the deck. So will every other new carrier in that class. In fact, the Navy didn’t even bother asking for a study to explore the costs of retrofitting the Gerald Ford to use steam.
It seemed less an act of defiance than an assumption that Trump couldn’t possibly be serious about ordering an expensive and time-consuming redesign of a major weapons system with very little background knowledge ― and in the context of a media interview.
QUOTES: “They ignored it. “The United States federal government is now just shrugging at and ignoring some of his statements.”—Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “His tweets are just being seen as a weird aberration of popular culture, not to be taken as directives. It’s unfortunate when a president behaves that way, but anyone in the military and the CIA have to understand what’s rational and what’s not rational. They’ve got to keep the world’s largest economy and the only real superpower safe.”