We have a tradition in our country that strengthens and ensures our democracy. After elections, we come together, accept the results regardless of our vote, and work for the success of the nation. There was much hope and promise when Democrats worked with Reagan and Republicans worked with Clinton. We wanted our presidents to be strong, capable, inspirational leaders. Personally, I always found ways to respect every president when he took office no matter how I voted. President Trump is different for so many people. He is unique among presidents, especially those of the modern era, in his utter lack of ability to speak honestly, his complete lack of character, and serious questions about his intellectual and psychological competence to serve. In an era where bullying and sexual assault/sexual harassment are serious issues, we elected a “Bully-in-Chief” and a man with a history of mistreating women. He often called his battle against contracting sexually transmitted diseases his own Vietnam, an affront to women and veterans alike, not to mention his attacks on John McCain’s wartime service.
President Trump’s supporters often cite the fact that he is a “counter-puncher” who fights back. I certainly believe leaders have the right to respond when attacked, but that should be when the attack is significant and false, thus needing correction. They should respond professionally, with restraint, and to the extent necessary to correct the record. This president goes on a major offensive for every little thing, using harsh, demeaning, and often vulgar language, thus demeaning his office. Leaders, especially those occupying higher office, should expect criticism. It comes with the job and to a great extent they just need to accept it. Keep in mind, not all criticism is false. In Trump’s case, when the facts come out, most of the criticism is true and verified. In any case, the key is to show leadership and confidence, not paranoia, insecurity, and immaturity. Accept it, own it, and move forward in a positive direction. For example, President Trump mercilessly attacked multiple Gold Star families who should have been allowed to grieve as the needed. George W. Bush never attacked Cindy Sheehan, who camped outside his Texas ranch, but rather quietly ensured she had adequate food, water, and shelter throughout her protest against him. That was leadership. Trump’s attacks are not the actions of a leader. They are part of an unacceptable pattern of disgraceful behavior that demeans his office and greatly diminishes his ability to lead the country.
Unfortunately, the evidence also shows that President Trump routinely lies to the American people. To be fair, most politicians lie. They learn a critical lesson about the difference between campaigning and governing. In office, they cannot back up some of the statements or promises made on the campaign trail. They lie when comparing records with an opponent or about the impact of certain policies. However, no prior president has lied so frequently, continuously, or blatantly about so many things. Similarly, Trump lacks character, unable to show empathy, be supportive, act contrite, take responsibility for administration actions, or make moral decisions. He cares not for average people, looking down with disdain. Lastly, President Trump has a very unnerving affinity for the most authoritarian, repressive dictators in the world while seeming to shun the leaders of our democratic allies. This is more alarming in the face of his repeated statements demonstrating a lack of understanding or respect for the Constitution and the freedoms and due process it guarantees to ensure our democracy.
Trump’s continuing tweet storms, erratic behavior, lack of temperament, and inability to focus or learn the important issues a president needs to understand call serious question to his capacity to do the job. His behavior risks war with North Korea, the breakup of NATO, capitulation to Russia and China, loss of respect around the world, a dangerous increase in the national debt, and of course growing domestic discord as violence, intolerance, and mistrust of our leaders grow. Despite serious disagreements over the years, even in partisan bickering we have not actually challenged a president’s capacity to serve, focusing more on policy differences. Now, we have several members of the Senate raising issues about the President’s character, fitness, and ability to serve. Among the most telling comments include that Trump has problems with the truth, lies, lacks the temperament to lead, fails to understand important issues, has degenerated while in office rather than improved, is debasing his office and the country, and the White House is more like an adult child care center.
Every one of these individuals supported President Trump, supported his policies, and has a solid conservative voting record. They are publicly raising these important concerns for one reason – their patriotic duty. Leaders owe a duty to the Constitution and the country, not their political party, partisan politics, or to any individual. Shame on leaders such as Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz for not supporting their colleagues in this regard. It speaks volumes about their own character flaws. They fail as leaders, forgetting their preeminent duty to the country, not partisan politics. This is not about party loyalty. It is purely about propriety and the good of the country. Many Republicans, including Cruz, refer to themselves as “Constitutional Conservatives.” While neither party owns or respects the Constitution more than the other, this label nevertheless begs the question. The Constitution is at risk, time to speak up. The American people deserve to know whether their president is competent to serve, and they deserve to be protected from the incredibly danger his erratic behavior poses to our security.
While Congressional Republicans are speaking out, those closest to the President in the White House continue to cover for him and his failings. The American people deserve those around President Trump to stop enabling him and stop encouraging his pattern of lying, unprofessional actions, and erratic behavior that puts the country at risk. It is time for some “general” truth. Generals Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly need to speak truthfully to the nation about the President, not cover for him. They should think hard about their obligations to the Constitution. Their oath and responsibilities extend to the country, not the president. President Trump exhibits behavior they would never accept from themselves or members of the organizations they lead. In the beginning I am willing to believe they had good intentions. They had a president who was woefully unprepared to serve due to his temperament, behavior, lying, and most importantly his lack of understanding of the major issues facing the country. I believe they planned to stick together and serve their president for the good of the nation. Their goal was to prevent a catastrophe (e.g., war with North Korea), further risk to our national security, and risk to our domestic situation.
As respected, career military officers there is no chance they condoned Trump’s disgraceful behavior even if they shared all or part of his policy views. These honorable leaders could not possibly condone such things as the disgraceful treatment of Gold Star families, the unprofessional and vulgar tweet storms, the lack of respect for the Constitution and its freedoms, the affection for tyrants who pose a direct threat to our nation, the continuous string of lies to cover for his many failures, and hopefully not his support for white supremacists and neo Nazis (even if they have the right to assemble, they are not good people…). Gentlemen, it is time to do the honorable thing and adhere to the oaths you all took. Do not sacrifice your integrity and the reputations you earned covering for an ill-behaved, unqualified man who likely does not even appreciate the lengths you have gone for him. Tell the truth to the American people and stop enabling President Trump’s inappropriate and unacceptable behavior. No one expects you to act against the president or lead an opposition to his presidency. However, that is not the same as ceasing to enable him and cover for him. For the good of the nation, it is time for some General truth…