On a day when Donald Trump was supposedly going to try and "pivot" with a speech on the economy, and therefore dominate the news cycle, it can't have been a good thing when 50 Republican national security experts wrote an open letter gutting Trump like a tuna. Major names, huge, significant people, like --
Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA. Two former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush -- Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge. John Negroponte, who was a director of national intelligence. Also, Eric Edele, the national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. And many more. All just days after Donald Trump tweeted about how unfair it was that such little people with no success were able to criticize him.
And it's not just the names, but what they said. Using scathing words in no uncertain terms like "unfit," "irresponsible" and "reckless." And on and on. Here's just a short excerpt --
"Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.
"In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and its democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his breathtaking lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump arrogantly claims that he understands foreign affairs and 'knows more about ISIS than the generals do.'”
And yes, this is just a short excerpt. It gets worse. You can read the whole thing here.
And all that on the day when Donald Trump expected to dominate the news with his "pivot." Now, he has 50 Republican national security heavyweights he has to slam as losers.
And the same day when conservative columnist David Brooks wrote in the New York Times a piece that basically calls Donald Trump literally crazy. I'm not exaggerating. Like when Brooks writes, "His speech patterns are like something straight out of a psychiatric textbook. Manics display something called 'light of ideas.' It’s a formal thought disorder in which ideas tumble forth through a disordered chain of associations"
I told you I wasn't being hyperbolic. And the column is far more blunt than just that. And very long. You can read it here in a syndicated out. I know there have been many other articles that have suggested the same thing, but it's noteworthy when one of the more respected conservative journalists writes it in The Paper of Record.
All of this, mainly the Open Letter, makes me wonder if it is what will give the networks cover to be more critical of Trump. They try so hard to hard to maintain a level of balance, but when 50 Republican national security experts call him “unfit” and “reckless,” it sort of gives them cover to open the door a bit.
I’m not suggesting they’ll pile on. They still have a responsibility for fairness. But I think it lets them report on the story and keep pursuing it as a topic. And I know too that this is something they should have written about in the past. But that's the past. My point is that I think after this letter, it could provide the cover that may allow them to do what they should have been doing. Maybe not, we'll see.
But mainly, what started as what should have been a Good News Day (within reason...) for Donald Trump turned out to be anything but.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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