What Comes To Mind When You Hear The Word "Unsuitable" These Days?
People are getting nervous that Trump can actually win. Blue America hasn't exactly been Hillary headquarters this election season, but yesterday we unveiled a new approach that goes beyond just #NeverTrump. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who worked with Hillary in the Obama cabinet, is no fan of hers either, not by any stretch of the imagination. But in a Wall Street Journal OpEd over the weekend, he made the same point we did: it's time to get serious about this sociopath getting into the White House.
When it comes to credibility problems, though, Donald Trump is in a league of his own. He has expressed support for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico; for torturing suspected terrorists and killing their families; for Mr. Putin’s dictatorial leadership and for Saddam Hussein ’s nonexistent successes against terrorism. He also has said he is for using defense spending by NATO allies as the litmus test on whether the U.S. will keep its treaty commitments to them; for withdrawing U.S. troops from Europe, South Korea and Japan and for the latter two developing nuclear weapons-- a highly destabilizing prospect.
Mr. Trump has been cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons. He has a record of insults to servicemen, their families and the military, which he called a “disaster.” He has declared our senior military leaders “reduced to rubble” and “embarrassing our country” and has suggested that, if elected, he will purge them-- an unprecedented and unconscionable threat. As of late, he appears to be rethinking some of these positions but he has yet to learn that when a president shoots off his mouth, there are no do-overs.
Mr. Trump is also willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself. He disdains expertise and experience while touting his own-- such as his claim that he knows more about ISIS than America’s generals. He has no clue about the difference between negotiating a business deal and negotiating with sovereign nations.
All of the presidents I served were strong personalities with strongly held views about the world. But each surrounded himself with independent-minded, knowledgeable and experienced advisers who would tell the president what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. Sometimes presidents would take their advice, sometimes not. But they always listened.
The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone. In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints. A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.
I understand the broad anger and frustration against political leaders in both parties. I have written about my disgust as secretary of defense as I watched politicians repeatedly place re-election above the nation’s best interests. Polls make clear that most Americans are dissatisfied with the two major party candidates for president. But as I used to say in the Pentagon, we are where we are-- not where we might wish to be. We have to make a decision. Perhaps the debates, if the candidates focus on substance rather than personal attacks, will clarify the choice.
...At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.
12 hours apart, it looks like Gates got under his thin skin
If Trump didn't dig Gates' analysis, he's not going to be celebrating the Times follow-up by Jonathan Martin. In his buffoonish style, he's been threatening to sue the Times and if anything will push him over the edge, this would. Martin's opening probably would phase Trump in the slightest. "[T]his past week," Martin asserted, "offered a vivid illustration of how little regard Mr. Trump has for the long-held expectations of America’s leaders. He is not only breaking the country’s political norms, he and his campaign aides are now all but mocking them." After all, that is exactly what has made Trump so popular with so many of the followers now driving around with "I'm deplorable and I vote" bumperstickers on their Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans and pickup trucks.
Routine falsehoods, unfounded claims and inflammatory language have long been staples of Mr. Trump’s anything-goes campaign. But as the polls tighten and November nears, his behavior, and the implications for the country should he become president, are alarming veteran political observers-- and leaving them deeply worried about the precedent being set, regardless of who wins the White House.
“It’s frightening,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. “Our politics, because of him, is descending to the level of a third-world country. There’s just nothing beneath him. And I don’t know why we would think he would change if he became president. That’s what’s really scary.”
Stephen Hess, who served in the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, could not even contemplate the prospect of Mr. Trump as commander in chief.
“It’s incredibly depressing,” Mr. Hess said of Mr. Trump. “He’s the most profoundly ignorant man I’ve ever seen at this level in terms of understanding the American presidency, and, even more troubling, he makes no effort to learn anything.”
Mr. Trump’s advocates insist that the critics are missing the larger impact of his candidacy, and how his campaign and presidency could be a force for good. As a New York Times-CBS poll released last week indicated, voters see him as more likely to aggressively confront what they see as a rotten political system, even if they recognize Mr. Trump as a risky choice.
“On the things that are really big, he will in some clumsy way force real change,” said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, who is an adviser to Mr. Trump. “Washington won’t be the same when he’s done.” But that is what is so worrisome to many observers of Mr. Trump’s rise. His critics fear that his norm-breaking campaign portends a political future in which candidates pay no penalty for unabashedly telling untruths, disregarding the public’s right to know, and lobbing racially charged accusations.
“I worry that if those of us in politics and the media don’t do a lot of soul-searching after this election, a slightly smarter Trump will succeed in the future,” said Jon Favreau, Mr. Obama’s former chief speechwriter. “For some politicians and consultants, the takeaway from this election will be that they can get away with almost anything.”
As Martin Nolan, a former editor and reporter at the Boston Globe who has chronicled politics for over 50 years, put it: “Truth has a low priority in the misnomer known as reality TV.”
“Rules,” Mr. Nolan added, “are for losers.”
The only salvation this year, argue Mr. Trump’s detractors, is that he is a singular figure in American life, and his would-be successors will not be able to skirt accountability in the fashion of the celebrity provocateur.
...“Trump is reflecting a culture that is more crass, more accepting of vulgarity and more attuned to pop culture,” said Matt Lewis, a conservative writer. “The bar has been lowered where going on Dr. Oz is perfectly acceptable and maybe even cutting edge.”
Normally, we'd just say something like whoever gets elected president, we're going to desperately need a stronger and more progressive Congress to stand up to him or her. And that would be true-- that is true... and you contribute the the Blue America candidates to the House and Senate on this page. Right now, though, we are looking at the prospect of a Trump presidency and... shuddering. Highly recommended: