For Demi, Navy Helpful

At a time when the U.S. Navy’s decrepit, old F-14 “Top Gun” carrier fighters are dropping like 35-ton, $50 million flies fully 172 of the 675 built have been destroyed in accidents our beloved president has elected to cut defense spending by 6 percent, with most of the reduction to come out of new equipment budgets.

As a mere former Army corporal and Air Force auxiliary captain, I must confess I at first failed to comprehend the Big Picture logic in this.

The Navy is keeping the F-14s flying, not with glue and baling wire but almost. It’s restricting the big fighters - which helped make Tom Cruise a macho man in the movie “Top Gun” - to the speed of commercial jetliners at altitudes below 17,000 feet.

This is great if America ever has to tangle with Air France, but puts our Top Gun guys at a slight disadvantage when having to cope with Chinese MiGs or Serbian SAMs or whatever.

But now I see the genius in President Clinton’s decision to hold off buying new planes and stuff. Why bother beefing up your military when you can deploy Demi Moore?

Yes, daring Demi actually called the White House to ask for the U.S. Navy’s full cooperation in the making of her newest movie, called, “G.I. Jane,” which is to be all about a Navy SEAL underwater commando team led by, yes, Demi Moore.

The White House responded to her request much like a carrier squadron readying a launch. Her desires were immediately referred to the Pentagon, with a follow-up call from the White House wanting to know how Demi-Navy joint plans for the film project were progressing.

Certainly the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush provided precedent enough for the use of show biz in military matters, and vice versa.

Not only did the Navy cooperate fully in the making of “Top Gun,” but, throughout the Reagan administration, took orders from an actor. Indeed, after watching our heroic invasion of Grenada, when combined forces of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines managed to subdue 600 Cuban construction workers in a single day, inflicting only minimal casualties on themselves, one had to say that it wouldn’t have been possible without a man like Reagan as commander in chief.

And was it not Bush who heroically subdued Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega by surrounding his house with loudspeakers blaring rock music?

Obviously, the Clinton White House sees Demi as deterrence. If we can show our enemies that America’s arsenal includes not only Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis - but also Willis’ armed-to-the-teeth wife as well - they won’t even think about interfering should we decide to invade Haiti again.

Except for her salary, Demi’s movie shouldn’t cost more than the price of a single F-14 (unless one of the hapless fighters crashes on the set). Adding in her salary, it shouldn’t cost more than two F-14s.

And the Disney Corp., which must have more money than the U.S. government these days, is paying.


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