President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at his Black Voices for Trump rally Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Once again, the media has managed to serve up two completely contradictory takes on Trump’s actions. Crazy how that keeps happening.
As my colleague streiff reported yesterday, initially the media ran out to proclaim that the Pentagon was “flabbergasted” by choosing to take out Soleimani. As the story went, the Pentagon only gave him the option because they didn’t think the orange man was stupid enough to take it. You see, Trump is just a dangerous idiot or something.
As streiff wrote, if that really happened, it needs to be investigated and heads need to roll.
This is one of those things, that were I Galactic Commander, I’d appoint a special counsel to investigate this story. If the President was presented with options the Pentagon did not believe should be carried out, we need to be playing kickball with the heads of the people who pulled that stunt. But my real bet is that the sourcing here is from someone who was not involved in the planning and who is transferring their own TDS onto the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Well, it apparently didn’t happen (or the Pentagon is trying to save face with some fresh leaks), because The Washington Post has a new story out. As the telling now goes, the attack was actually months in the making and was essentially pushed on Trump through a series of machinations to get him to say yes.
Pompeo has forged a close friendship with Mossad Director Yossi Cohen. The men have spoken in depth about Iran and it's proxy forces. In a prescient interview in October, Cohen said Soleimani “knows perfectly well that his elimination is not impossible.”
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 5, 2020
Pompeo's bureaucratic win comes with grave risks. Here's the checklist. Latest story w/ @jdawsey1 @shaneharris and @DanLamothe https://t.co/hDga7apLjV pic.twitter.com/mc7cOrUS3F
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) January 6, 2020
To me, this sounds more plausible than the “Trump was a reckless cowboy and chose to do something nobody wanted him to do” narrative. The foreign policy establishment, whether Pompeo or the career bureaucrats, have been wanting to hit Iran for decades. That’s why it’s been so awkward to see so many of them now pretend they didn’t want to see Soleimani killed. Of course they did, and it’s only pure partisanship driving comments to contrary. The idea that the Pentagon would be rooting against an escalation strikes me as incredibly unlikely.
So where’s the truth lie? Probably somewhere in between. Both these reports are shaded in a way to play badly for Trump. On the one hand, the initial telling was meant to make Trump look like a chaotic rogue, starting wars while the rest of the foreign policy “experts” shook their heads in disbelief. The second telling here is meant to make it seem like Trump is lying when he says an imminent threat caused him to pull the trigger.
In reality, what appears to have happened is that Pompeo had been gathering options months in advance given the lashing out Iran had been doing, whether it was the attacks in Saudi Arabia or the shooting down of our drone. Even after Iran killed an American contractor last month, Trump chose to only strike militia targets. It wasn’t until the embassy was attacked and intel came in that more attacks were coming that he pulled the trigger to take out Soleimani.
Therefore, neither media narrative is correct. No, this was not a rash decision that no one expected Trump to take, but yes, it was thought out and planned ahead of time with an imminent threat driving the final decision. In other words, Trump did what most any other president not named Obama would have done. But in the current political environment, everything must be spun as a negative and the media feeds off of painting Trump as aloof or a liar.
This is the state of our mainstream media. In just 24 hours, we got two polar opposite stories, both bolstered by “anonymous sources,” and neither even painted the full picture. But these people want to be our gatekeepers? Come on.