Yesterday, retired Lieutenant General and former National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster spoke at before the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. His speech was wide-ranging and touched on how long wars can be managed, how the media has fed the nation a “war weariness” narrative that artificially constrains our ability to carry out an effective foreign policy, and his basic coolness:
After being compared to Prince because he is known only by his first name, he says he hopes to go down in history as “funkiest” national security advisor. pic.twitter.com/HzhU6kPPi1
— Jonathan Schanzer (@JSchanzer) May 8, 2019
The one item that has caught the media’s attention though is McMaster characterizing some of his former White House colleagues as a “danger to the Constitution.”
The first group, of which he said he belonged to, was a number of White House officials whose priority was giving the president honest options and advice on issues that warranted his attention.
“The second group of people…[are those] who are not there to give the president options — they’re there to try to manipulate the situation based on their own agenda, not the president’s agenda,” McMaster said.
There was a third group of people, too, that McMaster warned about — those who “cast themselves in the role of saving the country, even the world, from the president,” he said.
McMaster was actually critical of both groups of which he didn’t belong. “I think those latter two categories of people are actually a danger to the Constitution of the United States,” he said, arguing that even those trying to keep Trump from hurting the country were doing a disservice, as they were not supposed to behave in such a manner.
While McMaster is spot-on in his taxonomy, I’m not sure that I agree with him in all regards.
Advisers pushing their own agendas is a phenomenon that has existed since the first Neanderthal strongman collected a court of sycophants around him. Pushing your own agenda only works when you are also pushing the boss’s agenda and your agenda dovetails with his. For instance, while I don’t know the guy at all and don’t mean to unfairly malign him, Stephen Miller is perceived as being a guy who is pushing hard on his own agenda, that being to radically change immigration policy. That may or may not be true but, arguendo, he is able to do that because Trump campaigned on cracking down on illegal immigration and while Miller’s proposals might be more extreme than anything Trump would have come up with they complement the President’s policy goals. I’m hard-pressed to think of an example of someone being able to press their own agenda without using the cover of the President’s agenda to do so.
The real danger to the Constitution are the Resistance (burrowed in Democrats who want to sabotage the President’s administration) and Vichy Republicans (the Chamber of Commerce and country club types who think pushing a partisan agenda is something so déclassé that they’d never consider doing it) who act deliberately to thwart the administration’s goals. The National Security Council that McMaster inherited was filled to the gills with people who were known to be hostile to the administration and who leaked and dragged their feet to hinder the policies of the new administration. And these people didn’t just exist in the White House. James Comey is a prime example of a man who, through his personal disloyalty, damaged both his agency and a lot of processes. The damage inflicted by Resistance members in the CIA and other intelligence agencies is as yet unknown because we have not yet reached a point where the President has to trust the advice he is receiving from people who have an established track record of trying to damage him.
Oddly enough, for all the whining and mewling the NeverTrump and Resistance people do about the alleged damage Trump is doing, it is those of them who are actively sabotaging the Trump administration who are actually the greatest danger to the nation and Constitution they disingenuously profess to love.