Updated: Nov 18, 2019
“The buck stops here,” read the sign on President Harry Truman’s desk like the ghost of a Roman auriga whispering in his ear “remember you are mortal,” a fact of which the current president has either forgotten or never believed. He has abdicated responsibility on things as simple as a bad speech, to things as serious as the death of a Navy SEAL. All these mistakes thrown to the side are not often taken as seriously as they should. We have become numb to it. It happens on a daily basis and so it is hard to even keep up. However these gaffes in leadership and accountability have very serious explications on a national and global scale.
President Trump’s election alone has had rippling effects with our allies. Britain, France, Italy and the Ukraine all had their version of Trump come to power, usually in an executive position. The president of Ukraine had no previous political experience. He was a comedian who played president on Ukrainian television. He ran as an outsider fighting corruption and used his TV persona to woo audiences. Sound familiar? Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Tesco brand of Trump, messes up his hair, fabricates stories about the EU, criticizes Britain’s elite and capitalizes on his own gaffes in a way to be relatable to gain popular support despite his very elitist past. There is also a serious breach of trust between the United States and our allies, that is friends, in the world. The president has no greater understanding of putting other people at risk or the potential danger vital pieces of military intelligence can cause when out in the open. After the president fired FBI director James Comey in 2017 he invited Russian officials to the White House and shared classified information from a Middle Eastern ally. Now there is reluctance on the part of our allies to share information with the United States for fear it end up in the wrong hands. Without this information our intelligence agencies cannot operate properly.
This begins to show how our own institutions at home have suffered from a slow but dangerous break down of authority. American intelligence agencies do not trust the president because they suffer from the same fear our allies do; that the President of the United States will share classified information with hostile nations (i.e. Russia). When the man at the top cannot be trusted with this information, bureaucracy cannot function properly, leading to dysfunction in all things government. Congressional subpoenas begin to be simply ignored, setting a very dangerous precedent. A former aid to the president Corey Lewandowski during a congressional testimony said, “I have no obligation to be honest with the media,” the only medium in which the American people would be able to understand his defense. The president has still not even nominated an Ambassador of South Korea despite the fact that we have come very close to war with their aggressive northern neighbor on several occasions over the past four years. The president himself has actually met with the dictator of that country on equal terms. His reasons are his own but the consequences belong to us. Could he have negotiated better having a diplomat, versed in the history and politics of the region at his side? No question. The administration’s excuse would most likely be that the Democrats would never confirm their nominee. Although other clearly unqualified nominees have gotten by just fine, I’m sure whoever they choose would do the same.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and his investigation along with the book Fear, by reporter of Watergate fame Bob Woodward reveal a presidency in which the chief executive’s explicit instructions are not followed. In fact, they describe an executive branch that only functions despite the president. Bob Woodward even begins his book with a memo that was stolen off the president’s desk by one of his closest advisors in order to prevent him from signing it. It demonstrates, to odd relief, how the people he trusts most do not follow his orders. The book unveils a presidency devoid of a chain of command and a president who has authority over no one, including himself. Woodward’s reporting was corroborated by an anonymous Op-Ed written for the New York Times. “Many Trump appointees,” reads the Op-Ed. “Have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” The result, the anonymous writer admits is a “two track presidency.” In the Mueller Report, former White House counsel Don Mcgahn told investigators the president ordered him to fire the special counsel, a clear attempt to obstruct justice. As his counsel, Mcgahn tried to protect the president from his own stupidity and weakness, and so did not follow through with his boss’ wishes. Here we see the president using his office in an attempt to obstruct justice in order to protect himself. He also continues to reject his duty as commander-in-chief on several occasions by refusing to even acknowledge a foreign attack on our elections. He not only lacks the ability, authority, intuition and morality required of him, he refuses to even do the job when he can. These two offenses alone, obstruction and indifference constitute what is spelled out in the constitution as high crimes and misdemeanors and all of it is clearly and unambiguously laid out in Mueller’s report. When the president of the United States says and firmly believes, “Article II [of the Constitution] allows me to do whatever I want,” a clear intent to abuse his power, that has implications. What makes it worse is when a government official is allowed to brazenly escape punishment for these serious transgressions.
A week after President Trump’s inauguration a group of Navy SEALs was seen flying a Trump campaign flag from their tactical vehicle near their base on the East Coast, showing their loyalty to their new commander-in-chief rather than to the Constitution they are sworn to defend; an action Theodore Roosevelt once described as “morally treasonable.” It also violated military regulations prohibiting political endorsement. It was a simple and impulsive mistake that was quickly handled; however the fact the SEALs felt comfortable to brazenly display their political support for this president is what makes the situation so serious. In July 2019, a group of Navy SEALs was ordered to return to their base at San Diego after their commander “lost confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish the mission.” Although the SEALs had been drinking the commander did not blame the alcohol for the disorder. Instead he saw “a perceived deterioration of good order and discipline within the team during non-operational periods.” This bold disobedience starts from the top. When the president believes he can do whatever he wants, it trickles down.
All of this is not to mention that the president lies with impunity about everything, even the weather. Republican government only works when there is a trust and understanding of authority shared between a government and the people. It seems the only successful form of “trickle down” the Republicans have been able to accomplish is a complete disregard for our institutions, the chain of command and the rule of law. When the gears at the top slow down or stop completely the whole machine begins to break. The only hope is that his successor, hoping there is one, will be able to steer the ship of state back on course but until then it is up to the co-equal branches of government to hold the executive responsible. Just as the Navy SEALS swore an oath to the Constitution, as did the president himself, so have the members of Congress. Given just the information we have at our disposal (much of which has been left out of this writing or unknown to us) they have a constitutional obligation as members of that legislative body to impeach and remove the President of the United States.
https://nypost.com/2019/07/24/navy-seals-platoon-sent-home-for-drinking-during-deployment/ - SEALs returned to base
- CL “Don’t have to be honest with the media”
- Anonymous Op-Ed
- Trump sharing classified information
The Mueller Report – Vol 2, pg. 113