This has to stop. On Tuesday, the Department of Defense was flabbergasted and flatfooted when presented with Donald Trump’s tweets about Middle East nations cutting ties with Qatar. As streiff noted, it’s not good.
“I can’t help you with that,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in response to a question about reconciling the president’s social media remarks and Department of Defense comments about the U.S. ally.
“I will only tell you that we have, with regard to our bases there, continued presence in our operations.”
Davis declined to answer a question about whether Qatar supports terrorism saying: “I’m not the right person to ask that. I consider them a host to our very important base at Al Udeid.”
When asked whether Trump’s Twitter messages could impact U.S. forces’ safety in Qatar, Davis said the Pentagon has not taken additional security measures.
It’s not the first time his tweets have contradicted what the rest of the government and his own spokespeople have said in public statements. As long as he has his fingers on the buttons, it won’t be the last. It’s a radioactive Twitter. As in, nuclear. And that doesn’t even get into the puerile rants he indulges in. They may be catharsis for his hardcore base, but they are in no way good for America.
So before you reflexively defend him on some Prager-esque grounds that we face total destruction as a people if any Republican criticizes Trump, consider the idea that not criticizing him carries at least equal if not greater danger.
The President needs conservative critics. All politicians require having their bad decisions critiqued by those who would keep them on the straight and narrow, but in Trump’s case, it’s much more than that. No one, not anyone, can credibly claim that he is not a massive ego in a position that continues to inflate it. He has always operated on the premise that he knows best. Indeed, he ran on that very concept, and reminds people of his belief in himself on an almost hourly basis. When someone like that is surrounded by an army of yes men ready to defend his every action, no matter how stupid, then guess what he will believe.
He will believe nothing he does is stupid. Or even mistaken.
This is not a complicated concept. It does not require the belabored pitch that the constant exhortations from the pro-Trump right to the anti-Trump and Trump-skeptical right to come on into the trench require. This is pure reason and patently obvious. What’s more, those who would entreat you in hundred-paragraph essays on the urgency of America’s need for you to pitch a tent in Trumpland already know it. They already know this is true. He needs critics. He needs them on the right.
Some are just unwilling to do it. Maybe they don’t like negative feedback, I couldn’t say, but he needs it nevertheless.
And not weak-chinned, mealy-mouthed, waffling objection. He needs pushback. The kind Bush got when he nominated Harriet Miers. The kind that John McCain gets when he transgresses conservative orthodoxy (which is bad for him but good for Trump for some reason.)
They tell you that this is war and the consequences of not supporting him are dangerous. Well I tell you that he is dangerous. His Twitter is dangerous. His personality, his way of thinking. These are dangerous. They sometimes get a good result (Gorsuch) but don’t fool yourself into believing that’s because of making a right decision for the right reasons. Lightning might clear away brush and undergrowth and let a forest flourish, but it will still burn your face off if it hits you. Luckily this lightning can be influenced where to strike.
A chorus of critics can make a difference. If not directly on him, then on his advisers and confidantes, who’ve already pushed him to make decisions he wouldn’t have made, by his own admission. Indeed, one of the chief arguments that pro-Trump people made in 2016 was that Trump can be handled and managed to do the right thing. Well then why not do that? Why pitch handling and managing and then, when he’s in office, roll over and cheer for everything he does. Does that make sense?
Trump’s Twitter is dangerous. It’s reckless. And he can’t make it go away by accusing the press of being “obsessed” with his Twitter. The world is obsessed with it. Diplomats are. World leaders are. The way he sees things matter, even if Kellyanne Conway wants to pretend it’s just a silly media hobby. Even if conservative writers prattle on about blue check marks fighting to have the top reply to his tweet. (By the way, you really must realize how dumb it looks to write articles whining about people who reply to the President on Twitter. It’s the ultimate in water-carrying, point-missing nonsense writing.) What he tweets matters because he is the President of the United States and he’s using it to make his thoughts known.
So he has two options: He can have better thoughts, or he can put down his drug. If you can’t criticize him for this, if you can’t say “enough, shut up and work, think before you speak” then you aren’t helping the Republican cause or fighting “fascism” or whatever other noble cause you’ve given yourself credit for spearheading. Nope. You’re just being a yes-man aiding the Twitter apocalypse.
He should put down the phone. And you should put down your pom-poms and say so. Like you actually mean it.
You say Trump can give Republicans and conservatives the policy objectives they’ve waited for. Then make him. Show a spine and say what he’s doing wrong. At least try it with this one. We are The People, after all.