Is it just me, or is the room suddenly spinning?
After 2 years of jelly-spined acquiescence to an
inexperienced, irrational, and compulsive mountebank, the GOP may finally have
mustered up some dignity.
It’s almost as if someone nudged them with a copy of our constitution
and reminded them that there are three separate, but equal branches of government.
Amazing, right? Our elected representatives had to be
reminded that their jobs are not as toadies to the president, and that we gave
up on kings around here over 200 years ago.
The word coming out is that Republican lawmakers are
concerned that President Trump’s constant derision of our nation’s intelligence
community, as well as his unwillingness to listen to them, or his military
advisers could ultimately have an effect on our national security.
Also, they feel they’ve given up too much of their
constitutional powers, as one of the aforementioned separate but equal branches
of government. Now they want it back.
Welcome to the party,
So what will this look like?
“Power over foreign policy has shifted to the executive branch over the last 30 years. Many of us in the Senate want to start taking it back,” said a Republican senator closely allied with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
They plan to send Trump a stern admonishment by voting Thursday afternoon on an amendment sponsored by McConnell warning “the precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan “could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security.”
Interestingly, this particular move comes a day after the
president took to his official Twitter account and slammed the intelligence
community, regarding expressed opinions about Iran, ISIS, and North Korea that
were in direct opposition of what Trump has been pushing.
In testimony given by DNI Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina
Haspel, they expressed that Iran were, in fact, complying with their part of a
deal made with then-President Obama. North Korea, on the other hand, have done
nothing to elicit any feelings of trust, in regards to their nuclear ambitions.
We have to keep in
mind Trump is a man who said he knows more than his generals.
Trump tweeted “the Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” The president added in a follow-up tweet about Iran: “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” Trump appeared to be responding to television news coverage that focused on how the testimony contradicted his views on global threats.
To their credit, some lawmakers jumped to the defense of Coats
“I don’t know how many times you can say this, but I would prefer that the president stay off Twitter, particularly with regard to these important national security issues where you’ve got people who are experts and have the background and are professionals,” said Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.). “In most cases I think he ought to, when it comes to their judgment, take it into consideration.”
Thune praised Coats, a former senator, as “an incredibly capable, principled guy” who “is very committed to doing the right thing for the country.” Thune predicted that most Republican senators will vote for the resolution urging Trump to exercise caution in assessing troop forces in Syria and Afghanistan.
“It reflects the widely held view in our conference — again — you want to trust our military leaders when it comes to some of these decisions,” he said.
It’s not like they’re not trying to talk to the president,
in an effort to pull him back from his more ill-advised impulses.
Thune said there were Republican lawmakers who spoke with
the president regularly about Syria and ISIS, urging him to pay attention to
his military advisers.
Another voice speaking out for our intelligence community is
newly-seated Utah Senator Mitt Romney.
“I have full confidence in our intelligence community and its leadership. They are highly sophisticated and capable, and I take them at their word.”
“Precipitous withdrawal from Syria would put our allies at risk and be detrimental to our allies in the region,” he added.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said “this is an intel community that the president has largely put in place.”
“I have confidence in them, and I think he should, too,” he said.
And, again, there’s the Twitter thing. It’s a problem.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), another member of the Intelligence panel, praised Coats and Haspel as “great patriots” who “tell it like it is.”
“Sometimes facts are inconvenient,” Cornyn said.
“But they work for him,” he added, referring to Trump. “He ought to call them on the phone.”
Asked about Trump’s tweeted criticism, Cornyn said: “Just say no. No more Twitter.”
Yeah. We know that’s not going to happen. Trump is like a
teenaged girl, living for the social media “likes.”
The genesis of this conversation seems to be the December 19
surprise announcement from the president that ISIS was defeated and he was
calling for a swift withdrawal of American troops from Syria.
The announcement alarmed our lawmakers, as well as our allies
in the region, who have depended on U.S. forces to be there to back their fight
in purging ISIS.
Besides catching everyone off guard, it forced Trump’s
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign in protest.
Just as a side note, here: News emerged earlier this week
that there was yet, another secretive meeting between President Trump and Russian
President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina.
The report is that the two found a few minutes to huddle
privately, with no one else present, but Putin’s translator and First Lady
Melania Trump. There were no notes kept, and advisers were not informed of the
This was within the 2 days of the summit, from November 30
to December 1.
When asked what was discussed, Trump gave a vague answer
I’m sure his decision to make a unilateral, surprise
announcement of a move that only served to benefit Russia a mere 18 days later
is purely coincidental.
Forgive my conspiratorial musings. It’s been a long 2 years.
One could make the argument that the GOP is only now flexing
its muscle over Trump because of his weakness in the polls. Even some of his
more devoted followers have suddenly awakened to the emperor’s nudity.
Of course, the midterm loss of the Republican majority in the
House had to be a bit of a reality check, as well. Many of them realize that if
they want to keep their jobs, maybe letting the Trump presidency play out like
a TV game show isn’t really conducive to their long term goals.
Trump is not becoming “more presidential.” He’s not growing
in his job, or learning his role in government. His admiration for dictators
and authoritarian figures is only increasing. It’s time to exert some control.