Last week a video posted to social media of a vehicle in U.S. Navy convoy on a Ky interstate, with a Trump flag flying in the back, caused a buzz. Flying a partisan flag on a U.S. Armed Forces vehicle should cause a ripple of unease, even if those service members meant no harm. It is against military regulations, but aside from that it speaks to several alarming trends in recent years.
The crazy partisanship in America has reached boiling over point. Without a doubt there are politicians and big money behind the effort to delegitimize Trump, without a doubt the news media have many opportunities to improve not only accurate reporting, but to address the liberal bias in much of the coverage, their being willing conduits for Dem. talking points, and an opportunity to break the spin cycle. However, at the end of the day, each American needs to calmly reflect on what he/she believes and where his/her moral compass lies. The scorched earth campaigns on the Left and Right are escalating, not abating since the November election of President Donald Trump.
Back in October 2016, I wrote a post The GOP’s moral collapse, delving into how many Republican politicians and mouthpieces waffled back and forth, as Trump’s erratic behavior, past bad behavior and totally unacceptable behavior ebbed and flowed. Many elected Republican officials supported, then withdrew support, then went back to supporting Donald Trump. Even many of the #NeverTrump pundits, who banded together for the February 2016, National Review, Against Trump, issue explaining in clear language why Trump’s character made him unfit to be president, eventually caved and supported him. Neither Trump’s behavior nor his character changed, only partisan political calculations changed. Few people remained resolute in their convictions. Here’s what I wrote:
“Last week’s video of Trump talking about sexually predatory behavior, a behavior that certainly falls into the category of sexual assault, gave Republican leaders a clear warning, that Trump likely engaged in predatory sexual conduct. Now, if he actually did grab women by their private parts without their consent, well that is sexual assault – END OF CONVERSATION! That Republican officials are quibbling over semantics or making all sorts of qualifiers out of political-posturing to prop up Trump, shows the complete collapse of their moral character. The moral dissonance for Republican officials to denounce, un-endorse, re-endorse Trump speaks to a lack of sound moral principles – sorry that’s the truth. If you need to couch everything, due to political calculations, you’ve lost you way on moral clarity.
The most absurd pronouncements are those who refuse to endorse Trump, but say they will still vote for him. Saying you will vote for him is endorsing him. So many Republicans are exposing their weak characters by this back and forth, endorsing, un-endorsing, re-endorsing sad spectacle.
Trump’s vetting should have occurred during the primary, but the Republican Party failed to vet him at all. Each bombshell that these Trump leaks detonates should be destroying not just Trump, but the Republican leadership, who failed to properly vet their own candidate.”
Yesterday, President Trump continued with his controversial tweeting and then by evening FOX News released a small excerpt of Trump’s pre-Superbowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, where President Trump appears to be equating America’s moral character with Putin’s thugocracy:
“O’Reilly asked Trump whether he “respects” the former KGB agent:
“I do respect him, but I respect a lot of people,” Trump said, “That doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him.”
Trump said he would appreciate any assistance from Russia in the fight against ISIS terrorists, adding that he would rather get along with the former Cold War-era foe than otherwise.
“But, [Putin] is a killer,” O’Reilly said.
“There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded, “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?””
Trump’s comment, “What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” is a standard Russian “whataboutism” propaganda and Trump using this tact rather than condemn Putin is alarming. Trump is a con man, so perhaps using that tactic is par for the course with him. Trump bends over backwards to not offend Putin, that is how I viewed Trump’s outrageous comment.
Certainly, what else Trump said in this interview matters, but the excerpt, on its face, deserves to be denounced and rejected. So, here are three top GOP responses this morning:
Vice President Mike Pence: “Pence on MTP about Trump’s Putin comments: “What you have in President Trump is someone who is not going to look in the rear view mirror” – Brad Jaffy at NBC News
Governor Chris Christie: “Christie explains President Trump’s comments on respecting Putin: “[Trump] believes leaders of countries deserve respect around the world”- Face the Nation
Senator Ben Sasse: “There is no moral equivalency” between the U.S.—and Putin’s “murderous thugs,” Ben Sasse says of Trump’s comments” – Brad Jaffy at NBC News
Only Senator Sasse speaks with moral clarity.
I decided I would never support Trump back in August 2015, when he had his spat with Megyn Kelly. He used his celebrity and following as the GOP Insurgent to try to harm Megyn Kelly’s job. Then I read his book, Trump: How To Get Rich, which I bought at an antique/junk store for a couple of dollars. Watching Trump’s behavior, listening to Roger Stone’s comments, then reading this book convinced me Donald Trump is an extreme sociopath:
“Last week I bought one of Trump’s books, as I mentioned before, and I read it. Assuredly, Trump offered many interesting insights into, as the book’s title stated, “TRUMP: How to Get Rich”. The pride he takes in his children comes across and he offers some worthwhile advice on investing and negotiating, but trying to get to the character of who exactly is Donald Trump, well, he’s a man who has chapters in his book like “Be Strategically Dramatic”, “Sometimes You Still Have To Screw Them”, and “Sometimes You Have To Hold a Grudge”, replete with examples from his life and his guiding principles. Here are some quotes (page 138):
“When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can. Like it says in the Bible, an eye for an eye.”
Be paranoid. I know this observation doesn’t make any of us sound very good, but let’s face the fact that it’s possible that even your best friend wants to steal your spouse and your money.”
The chapter on holding a grudge is even more interesting, because Trump relates how for years he had donated huge amounts of money to NY governor, Mario Cuomo and when he called Cuomo to ask for a favor from Cuomo’s son, Andrew, who was running the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mario Cuomo refused to do the favor (which Trump doesn’t explain in detail other than to say it was an appropriate favor involving attention to a detail). Trump blew up and for any who are confused with Trump’s vendetta against Megyn Kelly on Twitter, calling her a bimbo last night or his refusing to entertain a question by Jorge Ramos from Univision this evening, well, this chapter on holding a grudge (page 142) explains it.
The Navy vehicle with a Trump flag disturbed me, by jarring me into thinking about how politicized even our national security services have become. Retired generals signing letters to support political candidates, rally at national party conventions, become vocal spokespeople on campaigns, all feeds to politicize the military. President Trump does have support from many service-members, he even has generals on board. He is the man who said he would order U.S troops to murder ISIS family members to scare ISIS terrorists into submission, yet he was not roundly condemned by Republicans and his big name mouthpieces did damage control glossing over his lawless and immoral strategy, plus constantly pointing out how Hillary was worse.
As with everything about President Trump, his closest supporters will say just about anything to deflect, so with the Left fueling more hysteria and street violence, I worry about Trump’s “strong-man” impulses and overreaction. I worry about people around him and their motivations to foment chaos. I worry about what happens when the military and intelligence agencies lose their moral compass as apolitical professionals dedicated to keeping all Americans safe and defending The Constitution.
Are we at the crisis point where we need to worry about 1984? I hope not. The past two weeks of constant drama, hysterics and extreme partisan fighting do worry me and the Trump flag on a U.S military vehicle was definitely on the wrong road. Let’s hope some principled leaders emerge to guide us back to safer middle ground, eschewing the partisan extremes.
Senator Sasse politely, but firmly stood his ground against boarding the Trump train. He is emerging as a portrait of moral courage and clarity. Let’s hope more politicians in Washington follow his example
It’s time for America to get off of the extreme partisan highway and make some “extreme” efforts to pull Americans back to being Americans first, last, always.