Anthony G. Scannapieco Jr., the chairman of the Putnam County Republican Party, professed his allegiance to Donald J. Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month. Does Trump, a dishonest egomaniac, not to mention a bully, racist, and misogynist, continue to deserve Scannapieco’s support?
I could comment endlessly on Trump’s continual barrage of one erratic statement after another. However, today I want to focus attention on only one issue. The most important responsibility of this nation’s commander-in-chief is that of keeping America safe in a world filled with inherent danger.
According to Michael J. Morell, a senior security advisor to both President Clinton and President Bush, and the former director of the CIA under Barack Obama, Donald Trump is unqualified to be president and may, indeed, pose a threat to our national security. He has no tangible, relatable experience and, even more importantly, the character traits Trump exhibits suggest that he would be an inadequate and even dangerous commander-in-chief. His significant weaknesses are widely known and written about: a driving need for self-aggrandizement; overreaction to perceived slights; making important decisions based solely on intuition; refusing to adjust his views based on new information; a routine lack of honesty; an unwillingness to listen to others; and a lack of respect for the rule of law.
Trump’s impulsive and ill-advised statements are already doing damage to our national security: his endorsing Russian espionage against the United States; his supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States; and his promise to bar Muslims from entering the country, which would play into the hands of the jihadist narrative that the United States’ fight against terrorism is actually a war against Islam.
Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, a four-star general who served as commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, said that should Trump become president and follow through on some of the things he’s said on the campaign trail, the U.S. could face a “civil-military crisis, the like of which we’ve not seen in this country. We swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, which is a document and a set of principles, and it supports the rule of law; one of those is to ensure that we do not obey illegal orders.”
“Trump has supported the use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, and has said the military should kill the families of alleged terrorists. He’s talked about needing to torture,” Allen said. “He’s talked about needing to murder the families of alleged terrorists. He’s talked about carpet bombing ISIL. Who do you think is going to be carpet-bombed when all that occurs? It’s going to be innocent families.
“Were Trump to order such things,” Allen adds, “he would be ordering illegal actions.”
Fifty foreign policy and national security experts, all Republicans and veterans of George W. Bush’s administration, have denounced Trump’s presidential candidacy and pledged not to vote for him. They include two Homeland Security secretaries, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff. An open letter published in the NY Times states that, “He (Trump) is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism...and he has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual...with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
Trump also promotes a nativist, isolationist, anti-trade agenda that is universally denigrated by scholars, Republicans and Democrats alike. His call for tariff increases will cost millions of jobs here at home, plunge us into a major recession, and negatively affect our ability to harness collective cooperation in fighting worldwide terrorism.
Trump seems eager to showcase his lack of economic and political sophistication. He recently told The Washington Post that he reached decisions “with very little knowledge,” but on the strength of his “common sense” and his “business ability.” Trump considers reading long documents a waste of time. Asked where he gets his military advice, he replied, “I watch the shows.”
So, let’s briefly examine Trump’s military experience which is, in one word, none. After multiple student deferments during the Vietnam War, an alleged bone spur in his foot disqualified him from service. And for this entitled son of a real estate magnate, a letter from his family physician offered an easy evasion of military service or any volunteer service, for that matter. Yet, Trump had the audacity to question the heroism of John McCain as a POW; he equated the risks of contracting sexual diseases with the perils of combat; he criticized the family of a fallen Muslim-American military hero; and claims his individual sacrifice for flag and country to be his hard work and dogged pursuit of wealth. As that fallen officer’s father, Khizr Khan, remarked, “It is the absence of a soul that should now render [Trump] ineligible to represent this nation as commander in chief. No one with so little appreciation for past sacrifices should be in a position to make still more demands of others.”
So, Mr. Scannapieco, there comes a time when the pursuit of political expediency can cause untold damage to the wealth and health of a nation, and silence becomes dishonorable. Stand up to Trump! Be a model of dignity in a swamp of indecency. Otherwise, someday, when the list of this fascist’s supporters is discussed in public, your children might cringe.
I’ll be on vacation for the next couple of weeks but will return, words-a-blazing, in mid-September.