Is it wishful thinking on my part or am I seeing the beginning of defiant patriotism when it comes to the relationship of the military and congressional Republicans with President Trump? That is the underlying story of last week and I’d like to explore it with you today.
Trump has thrown his handpicked Attorney General Jeff Sessions under the proverbial bus so many times in the last few days that the only explanation for Sessions’ survival would have to be the mythical nine lives of a cat. Session actually presents a paradox for progressives in that most of us feel he never should have been the Attorney General in the first place. The interesting part is that prominent Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska (yes, he is gaining prominence of late) have come out strongly rebuking Trump.
According to reports from normally reliable sources, Trump startled the military brass last Wednesday morning with his tweets. It was not so much his policy announcement against transgender Americans serving in the armed forces; that the military brass is basically ignoring, at least for the moment. It was the delay between the first (8:55am) and second (9:04 am) tweets. The first tweet read “After consulting with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…” For nine minutes the brass at the Pentagon had no idea what Trump was talking about and feared he was launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike against God knows who.
The second tweet revealed what I will call the transgender ban. Since they had neither been consulted nor advised, or given orders via the proper channels senior military officials simply ignored the new policy. I will simply state that I agree with the subtitle of an article The Economist ran the next day: “The new policy is unjustified, inhumane and possibly unconstitutional”. For any of my readers who are unfamiliar with The Economist, it is a very reputable and conservative UK based publication.
The heartening thing this incident reveals is that our professional military is apparently having second thoughts about quickly obeying an unusual order that comes from Trump. We have learned that in the last months of the Nixon administration instructions were in place that an order from Nixon along the lines of ordering a nuclear attack was to be “verified” with the very top Determent of Defense officials before being acted on. By virtue of a hot mic we know at least two siting Senators are questioning Trump’s sanity; my bet is they are not the only two. Hopefully such instructions are currently in force.
While I endorse the American tenet of civilian control of the military I have to ponder if an insane order is a legal order and the military are the only people who can save America from making a monumental mistake of this sort.
Then there is the failure of Trumpcare (who knows what point O) in the Senate when Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted no. Trump is a bully and these three do not respond to bullies. They don’t have to and Trump simply doesn’t understand the system.
Collins doesn’t have to run for reelection until 2020 and is rumored to be eyeing the Governorship of Maine in 2018. Simply put, Collins is more popular in Maine than Trump.
McCain is a legend who survived the Hanoi Hilton. Do you think Donald Trump scares him? He is facing what is most likely terminal cancer. His seat isn’t up until 2022. If he were to live that long it is doubtful he would choose to run again. Effectively he has a job for life.
The Murkowski name is gold in Alaskan politics. I’m certain Trump doesn’t realize that. (During the 2016 primary he claimed he didn’t know who Lindsey Graham was when he received a donation soliciting phone call. He wrote a check.) Like McCain, Murkowski isn’t up until 2022. Only two Senators in history have won reelection to the Senate via write-in. They are Strom Thurmond and Murkowski. Unless you share my ethnicity Thurmond is a lot easier to spell than Murkowski. I don’t think Trump can intimidate Lisa Murkowski.
It appears to me that the White House/Trump Republicans are becoming increasingly isolated from the congressional Republicans and military. Add to that a West Wing in civil war. A dash of defiant patriotism may just yet deliver us from evil.
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