Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Throughout its 120-day tenure, this administration's biggest source of leaks has been the President himself. He has revealed his hand time and again, much to the chagrin of his White House staff, which seems to have absolutely no control over him. As a result, their prime duty is damage control.
No sooner is it revealed that Trump divulged high security "intel" to Russian state department officials, than his Secretary of State and National Security Adviser are sent out to vehemently deny these allegations. By morning Trump negated McMaster by admitting to the leaks in his tweets, saying he had the "absolute right" to share this information with Russian officials. This forced McMaster to come out a second time to explain the angry tweets.
I suppose I could parse all this out, but what's the point? It is reported further down in the Washington Post article that Trump prefers single-page, bullet-point security briefings, and often ignores even these condensed reports. It has reached the stage where Trump doesn't appear to distinguish between classified and non-classified information, pretty much ad-libbing his meetings and phone calls based on his very sketchy idea of the briefings, augmented no doubt by what he hears on television.
So much for the bombshell, as GOP Congresspersons are just saying that is his prerogative. McCain, Graham and Corker are willing to look the other way, offering very little criticism of the latest allegations undermining the credibility of the White House. How much rope do they plan on giving Trump?
The interesting thing to me is how porous the White House has become. Obviously, there are a lot of unhappy campers in the Trump administration with job security being the number one anxiety. Kellyanne Conway is reported as being the most unhappy, if we are to give Morning Joe any credibility. Her duties have been significantly reduced over the last four months, forced to come on shows like Morning Joe principally to do damage control.
Yet, his top advisers continue to defend him, when they should be coaching him. Unfortunately, Trump is not one to see mental or physical exercise of any use. He claims that it runs down our "finite amount of energy," as if we are nothing more than batteries. Of course, one could argue the opposite that exercise serves to re-energize us and that if he took advantage of the White House gym he might actually get himself down below the obese level without lying about his height. For Trump, standing for an hour in front of an adoring audience is all the physical exercise he needs.
Even that is proving hard to do these days with his approval ratings continuing to slump. This may explain why he has taken to the golf course 21 times while in office. He opted for golf rather than arranging to meet his wife and son on Mother's Day.
If Trump can't even bother to read security and intelligence briefings before important meetings, how can we expect him to form anything approaching a coherent foreign policy? Either he is outsourcing this to his son-in-law Jared, or simply letting things lie where they will and leaving it up to others, like Sergei Lavrov, to sort things out. Either way, I would think the Senate Foreign Relations committee would be up in arms, as it was when Obama offered no clear strategy on how to deal with Syria back in 2013.
This was at issue this time around as well with His Trumpness revealing critical sources of information on ISIS to his Russian counterparts. I suppose he sees Russia as our ally in this battle against ISIS, at least in Syria, so what's the harm in giving Lavrov and Kislyak "code-word information?" Just imagine the outrcy if Obama had been so careless in divulging such information.
Sadly, we have come to expect this from Trump, as John Oliver recently demonstrated. We can no longer treat the Trump administration like a reality show. His advisers have to stand up to him, Congress has to stand up to him, before it is too late!