Friday, August 18, 2017
There will be blood!
It seems that our president knows no bounds. Still embroiled in the growing scandal over his Charlottesville remarks, he alludes to a bogus campaign story about Gen. Pershing in response to the Barcelona attack yesterday. Trump has no problem condemning Muslim extremists, but treats white supremacists with kids' gloves.
I can see why Trump would like to identify himself with Gen. Pershing. He was the most highly decorated man in military history, putting down uprisings not only in the Philippines but Mexico as well by leading a punitive expedition to capture Pancho Villa in response to an attack on a New Mexico village. While he never captured Villa, his unit routed Villa's army, making Pershing kind of a latter-day Sam Houston.
Trump, however, is recalling the time Pershing put down a Muslim uprising in the Philippines, a greatly overblown chapter in the famous general's history. Trump circulated a story on the campaign trail that Pershing captured fifty Muslim rebels. He had his unit dip their bullets in pig's blood before executing all but one extremist, who he let loose to tell his comrades of the devil they faced in "Black Jack" Pershing.
The story first gained credence after the 9/11 attacks and grew to include such graphic details as the American soldiers tossing pig guts into the mass grave of Filipino Muslims. It's the kind of red meat conservatives love. Trump used the general to great effect.
As we have seen in his cabinet, Trump likes to surround himself with strong men, as long as they are loyal to him. I have to wonder what Generals Kelly, McMaster and Mattis are thinking right now? They are three of the most highly decorated contemporary generals and to many persons represent all that is good in the military services. Do they do Trump's bidding or do they speak out? They are all retired so I assume they can speak for themselves.
We had a similar situation with Colin Powell, who was forced to make his president's case for war in Iraq before the UN in 2002. It didn't go over very well and former Gen. Powell deeply regretted having been put in that situation. One can only hope this serves as an object lesson for the generals on Trump's staff.
General Kelly is in the worst position as Chief of Staff. He was called in to clean up the mess left by Reince Priebus, but you can't clean up the White House when you have a President who goes rogue whenever he gets slighted in the media. The Pershing tweet has to sting, as you know Kelly has no time for this kind of nonsense. If it had been a staff member, Kelly would have fired him immediately. But, you can't fire the president, at least not on your own. Kelly can only stand by the curtain with bowed head as Trump pours gasoline on the flames of Charlottesville and now Barcelona.
Kelly and the other generals have to realize they have a demented man on their hands. Pershing found himself in a similar situation with Wilson, although it was more Wilson's inaction in regard to the war in Europe that galled "Black Jack." Wilson waited three long years before finally summing up the courage to fight. Trump seems to have no such trepidation. He is always ready to pick a fight, sending out dog whistles to the alt-right every chance he gets. Kelly has to find a way to bring the president under control and so far he hasn't found it.
So, what's next? Does his cabinet allow him to continue to sully the good name of America at home and abroad or does it invoke the XXV amendment to determine if Trump is no longer able to discharge the duties of his office and submit its declaration to the House of Representatives? It's a tough call, as there are those in his cabinet who will stand behind their president no matter what, as it seems 2/3s of the Republican electorate are doing.
If they act now, the US can start fresh in the fall. Granted, Mike Pence isn't going to present a sea change in policy. He will continue to carry out pretty much the same agenda Trump was elected upon, but at least Pence will offer more stable leadership. Unlike Trump, the vice-president understands the dynamics of Congress and is able to gain the respect of foreign leaders. For Republicans, this would be a huge step toward regaining their momentum in the upcoming mid-terms.
However, they risk a backlash from their Republican base, which for whatever odd reason stands solidly behind the Liar-in-Chief. Worse, we could see a white conservative uprising in this country that could make Charlottesville look like child's play. It's your call, Republican leaders, but the longer you let this man stay in power the darker this problem becomes. He's already dragged 67% of your party into this dark hole, don't let him drag the whole nation.