Friday, October 18, 2019

The Impeachment Game

In the impeachment game President Trump should be holding a strong hand. The economy is doing very well. The nation is prospering.  Trump’s enemies have been crying wolf for so long that they lack credibility. Joe Biden’s son was clearly profiteering from his lineage. So, the Ukraine card looks more like a boomerang. Elizabeth Warren is a serial prevaricator. And so on.

And yet, things are not looking as good as they should. Trump is losing support among Republicans and independents… and should be concerned. The reason has less to do with Ukraine and more to do with Syria. A man who won the presidency by looking to be stronger, more resolute and more courageous looks weak when compared to the Turkish strongman. Trump’s self-glorification for walking away from Syrian Kurds sounds more like bluster and less like the actions of a man in charge.

Sending out ill-considered and poorly articulated letters does not make Trump look strong. It makes him look weak. When it comes to reputation, the bottom line is observable personal behavior. Trump should not be feeding the anti-Trump forces by acting erratically.

Consider Peggy Noonan’s analysis from the Wall Street Journal this morning. Whatever Noonan’s personal views, she has the pulse of Republican thinking. If senior Republicans tell her that Trump is in potential trouble, then Trump is in trouble. The House vote on the new resolution about Trump’s Syria should have been a wake up call. It seems not to have been.

Noonan offers several reasons. Here is one:

First, the president, confident of acquittal, has chosen this moment to let his inner crazy flourish daily and dramatically—the fights and meltdowns, the insults, the Erdogan letter. Just when the president needs to be enacting a certain stability he enacts its opposite. It is possible he doesn’t appreciate the jeopardy he’s in with impeachment bearing down; it is possible he knows and what behavioral discipline he has is wearing down.

It will not be decided on the issues. It will not be decided on obstruction of justice or whatever. It will be decided on the president’s conduct of his office.

Noonan continues:

The president is daily eroding his position. His Syria decision was followed by wholly predictable tragedy; it may or may not have been eased by the announcement Thursday of a five-day cease-fire. Before that the House voted 354-60, including 129 Republicans, to rebuke the president. There was the crazy letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which was alternately pleading (“You can make a great deal. . . . I will call you later”) and threatening (“I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will”).

There was the Cabinet Room meeting with congressional leaders, the insults hurled and the wildness of the photo that said it all—the angry president; Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, standing and pointing at him; and the head of Gen. Mark Milley, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, bowed in—embarrassment? Horror? His was not the only bowed head.

The president soon tweeted about a constitutional officer of the U.S. House, who is third in line for the presidency: “Nancy Pelosi needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her ‘upstairs’ or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country. She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person!”

In fairness, one must notice that Democrats and the media have been defaming President Trump from the moment he took office. They have diagnosed his mental state and declared him to be mentally ill. These same professionals have uttered not a word about the obviously mentally compromised Joe Biden. So, we understand why Trump took off after Nancy Pelosi. Unfortunately, it does not make him look like he is in charge.

Public perception matter. Public presentation matters.

And then there was the Erdogan letter, about which Noonan remarks:

The president tweeted out the picture of that meeting just as the White House made public the Erdogan letter—because they think it made the president look good. Which underscored the sense that he has no heavyweight advisers around him—the generals are gone, the competent fled, he’s careening around surrounded by second raters, opportunists, naifs and demoralized midlevel people who can’t believe what they’re seeing.

It was not a good letter. Sending senior administration officials to Ankara to beg for a cease fire, which seems not to be taking place, is not a good look. Unless Trump figures out a way to save face here, he will look like he is being played by the Turkish dictator.

One is not comforted by the fact that Trump’s erratic behavior has made him dependent on the incompetence of others, especially the incompetence of House Democrats. Considering how weak he appeared when so many House Republicans voted against his Syria policy, he ought to be seriously worried. But, then again, perhaps he is.

And then there is Admiral William McRaven, a former commander of the Navy SEALS, a man who has never been notably political. The good admiral took to the pages of the New York Times to outline his case for impeachment and removal from office.

As for McRaven’s possible bias, we note that he stood up strongly and proudly for John Brennan, former director of the CIA, a man who might be facing criminal charges for election interference, and a man who accused the president of having committed treason… a capital offense. If you think that McRaven is totally non-partisan, think again.

Anyway, we will examine McRaven’s argument, both for what it shows and for what it doesn’t show. At the least, it does not show that a great military commander is ipso facto a great political philosopher.

We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.

But, if we don’t care about our values, if we don’t care about duty and honor, if we don’t help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice — what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?

If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military? And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?

President Trump seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong. These are the virtues that have sustained this nation for the past 243 years. If we hope to continue to lead the world and inspire a new generation of young men and women to our cause, then we must embrace these values now more than ever.

I was waiting for him to say that diversity is our strength. McRaven believes that we are not a country but a cause. He asserts that our ideals make us great and that we must stand up against injustice and oppression everywhere.

I would not count that as a serious political argument. The world is replete with injustice and oppression. Does the good admiral believe that we should intervene willy nilly everywhere we see injustice? It makes no sense. And yet, it bears an eerie similarity to the Samantha Power argument that we must intervene anywhere genocide is taking place… because we are on the side of justice. As for America’s national interest, it does not enter the McRaven equation.

On the one side, he is making a salient point. If America abandons the Kurdish forces that fought alongside us, we look as though we cannot be trusted. Going back on your word does not make you look strong or reliable or trustworthy.

But now, for all the talk about Trump’s perfidy, McRaven does not seem to care about the fact that the Obama administration policy in Syria led to half a million dead and millions more refugees. He does not care that Obama gave Iraq and eastern Syria to ISIS. Did that make Obama a champion of American values, standing up against oppression and injustice. Shouldn't we consider that the massacres and gang rapes committed by ISIS should be on the Obama account? How's that for standing strong against oppression and injustice?

McRaven does not care that Obama rescued the terrorist regime in Iran and lied to the king of Saudi Arabia. He does not care that Obama was happy to see the Muslim Brotherhood take power in Egypt. And he certainly does not care about who lost Crimea and who cancelled missile defense systems that the Bush administration had sold to Poland and the Czech Republic.

Admiral McRaven might not have declared a political allegiance but his thinking reflects the deep state idealism that produced the Obama presidency, that systematically undermined American national pride and patriotism, and that proved itself to be weak and feckless on the world stage.


A-Bax said...

Pssst - your tribalism is showing.

Americans don't give a rat's ass about the middle east. At least not anymore. Whether it's Iraq v. Kuwait, Iran v. Israel, Turkey v. Iran, Syria V. Turkey, Lebanon v. Israel, Kurds v. Turkey v. Syria, Iran v. Saudi Arabia, Libya v. Egypt, etc., etc. etc.

Let them all slaughter each other over their precious sand, olive trees, blood feuds, local gods, and petty squabbles. We have no allies in the Middle East. No, not even Israel. There's only the national interest, and the US has none anymore. Not in that nest of vipers and dust. We can frack our own oil, or drill for it off our coasts. We don't need the damn Levant for anything. Let those who want it fight for it, or GTFO. Israel can take care of itself, and if not, tough titty. The US had done enough.

We're tired of the never-ending wars in the middle east. We're tired of (((lobbyists))) and (((neoclowns))) manipulating squishy RINOs into spending our blood and treasure for their interests.

Trump is channeling the sentiment most of the country - let them kill each other for their own reasons and let the chips fall where they may. We don't care about Arabs, Jews, Turks, Persians, or any of the assorted other desert people who live in that accursed place.

A-Bax said...

Also, who cares what Peggy Noonan thinks?

She fell for the Obama illusion. That right there is disqualifying. Yeah, she wrote some good speeches for Reagan. But for the last 12 years she's been disastrously wrong. She's a Beltway creature who thinks she's not. She is from and of the Swamp, if not one of it's dangerous predators.

Plus, being female her instincts are not to rock the boat. Which is fine in and of itself but she's no wartime consigliere. The fact the Peggy Noonan is tsk-tsk-ing Trump is almost evidence that he's on the right track.

Peggy Noonan should retire to QVC and extol the virtues of glass frogs.

Anonymous said...

Pakistan's nukes, perhaps why Pakistan rarely discussed in the mainstream?

Sam L. said...

I gave up on Noonan some years ago. I can't believe her.

Sam L. said...

And now. I add McRaven.

Malcolm said...

A CALL TO ACTION: “Stand” – We Will Remember The 129 Republicans Who Refused to Stand With President Trump…

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Always remember: Hillary Clinton was our other choice.

Always remember that. I think that gets lost in a lot of these discussions.

Hillary Clinton says Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian agent.

For real.

To much Chardonnay? Does that matter?

Anonymous said...


I would say that Hillary sees Russians everywhere, under her bed, every reason she lost, et al., but she spent a considerable amount of time in bed with them creating all kinds of mayhem. Look, there are Russians behind that tree? Surprising that she and her so-called democrat ilk cannot see the existential threat posed by China. They cannot see the threat from the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the millions of American deaths to this point and in the future. Their lust for power is predicated on those deaths. I sometimes wonder if they have become a death cult. Self-defense almost requires that we find a way to keep them from the power they so desire. I am actually afraid of the actions that may be necessary to put an end to the machinations of a post Constitutional so-called democrat party. Anyone for Soviet-style show trials?

I gave up on Noonan a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Uh-oh...somebody missed the inside story of Pelosi. SHE was the one who, rather than reading the hand-out on foreign affairs that day, acted out the drama, stomped out and ---bingo, the press just happened to be outside waiting when she did.She then accused PDT, not the other way around, of needing mental help and asked "for prayers." He only responded in kind.

Don't take the word of a DS guy in a corporate newspaper. Of course, he hadn't been political--- he never had anyone insisting on America First in the WH!

Look, the NYT has come right out on their front page and said they will not (can not,ha) treat PDT fairly. Then Project veritas released the tape showing the one sayig "Everyone here hates Trump."

Why are you, usually so sensible, giving any credibility to those military chiefs who were installed and protected by BO? Isn't it kinda odd that this guy never wrote an op-ed when BO's ROE was getting our guys killed and maimed?

All in all, not up to your usual standards, and I believe it's because you're still giving credibility to the left---whether it's in the media, military, or congress. Surely we all know by now that they're a cabal in the midst of an ongoing coup to overthrow the people's vote and nullify an election. In other words, to argue against their "truth" is to give it credibility. Same goes for the Never Trumpers, such as Noonan.

I'm glad we're not fighting moslem battles anymore. I am so tired of that, esp when they come over here as "refugees" and start infiltrating congress with what we know (regardless of what they say) are sharia-pushing women.

The commenters here have it right. Don't fall prey to playing their game--taking them seriously, when this is only the latest stage of the coup. Quoting Noonan at length? She's irrelevant in times like this. If anyone is "erratic," it's the House members trying to pull this scam off, not even in the proper committee (afraid of Jordan, Nunes, and Meadows in Judicial, perhaps)