I tried. I wanted to believe, to have faith and confidence. I wanted to convince myself that a large portion of our country had not gone collectively insane. I can’t do it.
I wanted to believe that behind the bluster and buffoonery there was a core of competence and capability. I told myself that I didn’t need to like the man to support his actions, and I didn’t need to agree with all his viewpoints as long as he delivered on the issues I think are important. I underestimated just how comprehensive his poor judgment could become.
I wanted to think that he was just getting a bad rap, receiving unfair treatment by a media establishment that thrives on controversy. I knew he was not a choirboy, and I didn’t think his characterization in the news of the day was inaccurate – just skewed. There is skewed, and there is sociopathic, though.
I know that not everything he thinks and does is bad. I think that some of his recent actions are beneficial and necessary. However, it’s a complex and dangerous world, and it’s getting more dangerous by the day. I happen to believe that strength, resolve, a demonstrated willingness to take action (even unpopular action) based on high principle and a sincere love for America and its people, and a commitment, as Hippocrates put it, to “do no harm” to the rest of the planet, are the leadership qualities that will see us through. It’s a tall order, and difficult to find in the same skin, but our chief executive needs to be statesman, warrior, visionary, diplomat, strategist, charismatic leader, and practical manager. Unfortunately, ours seems to be circus clown, huckster, petty tyrant, actor, child, dilettante, and bully, with a few noble qualities thrown in for leavening.
So, what has brought me to this tipping point? It’s not complex. I honestly don’t know exactly what happened, but credible news reports indicate that the president disclosed highly classified intelligence information provided to us by one of our allies to representatives of one of the most threatening nations on earth (in the Oval Office, no less). The information was not run-of-the-mill collateral-classified information, but instead was “codeword” classified. Disclosure of such information can place sensitive operations and fragile tactical advantages at risk, eliminate the usefulness of strategic military capabilities, and put intelligence operatives at risk of capture, torture and death. The national security advisor has stated that the disclosure was “no big deal,” but what is he going to say under these circumstances? “Our president just screwed us, and there are people all over the world, not all of them even Americans, who are wondering tonight if the next knock on their door will be followed by a pistol bullet”?
Clearly, the president has the right to declassify anything he wants to. As the senior classification authority in the US government, if he says something is classified, then it is. Likewise, if he says that something is not classified, it’s not. I would expect and demand that the president, who is supposed to have all of our best interests at heart, would have a strategy in mind for divulging codeword intelligence to people who will no doubt use it to hurt us. I fear that there is no strategy, no thought, no rationale for doing so, though. At best, he did it because he’s stupid; because he doesn’t understand that he stands with his hand on the wheel of the entire world, and that every action he takes reverberates in history. At worst, he did it because he has a new toy, because he wanted to posture, because he was concerned about the size of his hands. I don’t know why he did it, but neither end of this spectrum is all that good, and it ignores the possibility of other motivations.
Politically, I don’t know what I am. I’m not sure it matters. I used to think I was a Republican, but I don’t think that word still means what it used to mean. I’ve never been a liberal, but I cannot abide people who think they know what’s best for me and everyone else, and who cannot just mind their own business. I believe in vigilance and peace through strength, and in mercy and regard for the less fortunate. I believe in self-determination and self-protection, and I believe in kindness and charity. I believe in equality of opportunity, and I believe not everyone has the same potential for creating outcomes. I believe that bad things happen, and I believe that God uses us as His hands when they do. I believe in the principles that make America a great country, and I believe in regular self-examination to be sure we’re still acting according to those principles.
I believe in the strength of American ideals, and I believe we’re on the wrong path.