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Editorial: You can't make this stuff up

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Posted on March 29, 2018 |
By Angelo Lynn



No doubt our current president is a political lightning rod for liberals and moderates like no other Republican we have seen in recent times (President Nixon was a close second, but that’s been 48 years). But it’s one thing to be viscerally abhorrent to political opponents; it’s quite another to be harshly criticized by members of your own political party. When that’s the case, the warning signs of a president who poses a threat to our society are magnified.

Here, then, are a few comments from some unlikely sources:

John O. Brennan, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013-2017, which includes the first several months of Trump’s presidency, said in a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” speculated that Russians “may have something on Mr. Trump personally” when he was asked if he thought Mr. Trump was afraid of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump, and may have things that they could expose,” he told the talk show host. Brennan was head of the CIA when the infamous dossier surfaced during the 2016 election campaign alleging that the Russians had compromising information on Mr. Trump. Political analysts have noted that if there were any American official who would know if those allegations were true, Mr. Brennan would be one of them.

Mr. Brennan, however, had held his comments pretty much in check until the week Trump lauded the firing of the former deputy director of the F.B.I., Andrew G. McCabe, after which Brennan issued this harsh condemnation to Mr. Trump on Twitter: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” 

Brennan joins a handful of former or retired intelligence officials who have been harshly critical of President Trump, including Michael Hayden, who ran the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency under President George W. Bush, saying they were dismayed by Trump’s fundamental disregard for the rule of law.

After Trump’s appointment of John Bolton to head the National Security Agency, conservative columnist Max Boot explained last week why this appointment is so much worse than when Bolton was appointed to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush: “Back then, Bolton was being nominated for a post in which he was supposed to echo the president’s views. And that president … was a traditional conservative who believed that the United States needs to promote free trade and freedom ... But today Bolton isn’t being sent to Turtle Bay. He is going to the West Wing, where he will be one of the most important influences on a president who is so ignorant that he makes Bush seem like an international relations PhD by comparison … The failure of the Iraq intervention has soured me on preventive wars in general. Not so Bolton: He remains an advocate of bombing Iran and North Korea. Anyone who favors a ‘war of choice’ against a nuclear-armed state belongs in a psychiatric ward, not the White House — although, admittedly, the difference between the two may no longer be consequential.”

Then there’s this recent news of GOP strategy, according to reports this week in the Washington Post. The Republican Congress is considering championing a balanced budget amendment, and another tax cut between now and mid-term elections this November. The thinking is this: The party has blown it with fiscal conservatives, so now they’ll trot out a conservative talking point (balanced budget amendment) to appease that base, even though they just passed a budget and tax cuts that will blow the deficit sky high; and they will simultaneously champion another tax cut figuring Democrats will object, thus the GOP will be able to claim the Democrats are against tax cuts for the middle class. Seriously? You can’t make this stuff up.

Angelo Lynn

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