It’s one thing to have an ivory tower presidency. President Reagan reportedly worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. many days.
It’s one thing to get away at times. Reagan spent time at his ranch in California. President Bush liked to go to Midland, Texas; he liked to bike, run and play golf. President Obama frequented Martha’s Vineyard and vacationed in Hawaii.
It’s quite another to decide to be a titular Commander in Chief,. All presidents, when American troops are killed in battle, must make the difficult phone calls. Bush 43 suffered in silence when angry mothers screamed at him. Obama also dealt with some angry parents and relatives.
President Trump can become an “imperial president,” and act as a head of state, while letting factotums in the Executive Office of the President handle the actual governing. He can watch Fox News all day, make calls on his cell phone, and tweet all night. He can let Paul Ryan handle the House, and leave the Senate to Mitch McConnell. He can buddy-up with Chuck and Nancy and let others deal with the consequences.
He can even spend every weekend in Bedminster, NJ playing golf. But Trump cannot shirk the responsibilities of the Commander in Chief. His words conjures up the image of a fifth grader who didn’t turn in his homework. The excuse is transparently false.
When the question comes up of calling families of American service members who died on his watch, Trump cannot simply defer to General Kelly to find out if President Obama called him in 2010 when Kelly’s own son was killed in Afghanistan.
He cannot do this because that duty is not a political duty, or a governmental duty. It’s the duty of the Head of State of the United States of America and the Commander in Chief of its military.
There is no excuse. There is no passing of the buck. There is no “I don’t have time.” Trump cannot be the titular Commander in Chief. In this, there is no compromise or political equivocating. Trump doesn’t like making difficult, emotional calls to grieving families. Nobody does. It’s a terrible job. But he was elected to the office and must do it.
There is no more sacred duty Trump can perform than this. There can be no more excuses.