Musings —08.04.2017 12:11 PM—
Both in content and in context, the official transcripts of Donald Trump’s January phone calls with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto—which were leaked to The Washington Post and published Thursday—depict a president whose very presence in high office is destabilizing, and whose continued service constitutes a dangerous crisis.
We learn, in intimate and excruciating detail, the ways the president’s mental limitations make basic requirements of the job (such as understanding what allied leaders are talking about) impossible for him. We see not for the first time that Trump will lie about anything, even when he knows, or should know, that foreign governments can produce evidence of his deceit.
…When a president can no longer serve faithfully, there are means available to Congress and the cabinet, through the impeachment power and section four of the 25th Amendment, to remove him.
Pushing Trump out of office would be a politically destabilizing event in its own right, perhaps more acutely so than handing the reins of government over to a cadre of generals and hoping for the best. But the processes are legitimate, and were created for precisely the kind of situation that confronts us today. It is often said that impeachment is a political process, but it is also a normative one. Or at least, it should be the norm that elected officials step in to protect the public from a president who is lawless and befuddled—even when the president happens to be from the same party.
When the Pentagon politely – but firmly – refused to follow Trump’s Twitter edict about transgender soldiers, I was torn in my reaction, as Brian Beutler clearly is, in his important essay. On the one hand, I was happy that they stood by LGBT troops, who are just as capable of firing a gun as the next guy or gal. (My beloved godfather was gay, and he was a longtime and proud member of our Armed Forces, which he served with distinction.)
On the other hand, it was astonishing – and potentially disturbing – that the U.S. military leadership were declining to acquiesce to civilian control of the military, (clearly) because the civilian in question is a deranged criminal named Donald Trump.
The good news, in other words, is that we may not all soon be nuclear ash – as when Trump inevitably tries to set off a conflagration to distract from Mueller’s coming indictments.
The bad news is that the most powerful nation on Earth is now being quietly run by the military, and not many people have noticed.