Why does President Trump lay himself open to mockery? Simply because his behavior is not only unlike a dignified president but his policy tweets are quite outrageous. From ‘my nuclear button is bigger than yours’ addressed to Kim Jong-un to arming teachers to defend schools against mass shooters — he is quite off the wall.
Two weeks after the Florida shooting (following which Mr. Trump wanted to arm teachers), a teacher in Georgia has behaved as this column warned. Jesse Randall Davidson, a social science teacher, at Dalton High School barricaded the class door locking out his students in the hallway. When the headmaster tried to enter with a pass key, Davidson responded with gunfire.
Dalton is a suburb 90 miles northwest of Atlanta. Mr. Davidson who has been employed at the school for almost 14 years is also the announcer for the school football team making him in all likelihood a formerly popular figure. Fortunately, no one was hurt and Mr. Davidson, who the Principal said was making “nonsensical noises” during the exchange, is now in custody.
Any leader relies on close confidantes — aides he can trust and who can tell him like it is without fear of being fired. For Donald Trump such a person was Hope Hicks. She was part of his presidential odyssey right from the beginning and will be missed, even by Chief of Staff John Kelley who would use her to tell the president he was wrong without a tweeted retribution She has now resigned, the day after a marathon eight hours of questioning by the House Intelligence Committee. Was it something she said or something she thinks could happen. We will have to wait and see. With her departure, five people have done six stints as Communications Director during Trump’s 400-day tenure. She lasted the longest, about seven months.
Meanwhile, Jared Kushner’s interim top-secret security clearance has been downgraded while the investigation for his full clearance continues. The major problem of course is his business, and interests susceptible to leverage by foreign governments. And not to be too flip, he looks like an Ensign Crusher on Star Trek with similar political maturity. Will he be able to do such a high level job without a top-security clearance? It really isn’t even a question.
The number of staffers coming and going in this railroad junction of a White House is unprecedented and symptomatic of chaotic leadership. Run by a self proclaimed ‘stable genius’ who this week spelled ‘dying’ as ‘dieing’ before he was corrected in a tweet rant on the actor Alec Baldwin, the place is about as stable as the ‘genius’. His latest proclamation slapping punitive import tariffs (25% on steel and 10% on aluminum) could start a trade war.
On top of all this, friend Vladimir has laid down the gauntlet. Addressing an audience of Russian lawmakers, regional governors and leading figures, Mr. Putin introduced new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-tipped cruise missile powered by a small nuclear engine. Highly maneuverable, low-flying (thus difficult to detect) and with unlimited range — it promises to make the U.S. missile defense shield obsolete, which he claimed was now an umbrella full of holes. Why Seoul and Tokyo ‘would now buy such an umbrella’ made little sense, added Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Putin’s speech also carried a blunt warning to Washington against contemplating the use of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons. He said a nuclear attack on any of Moscow’s allies would result in an immediate response. Observers thought he was referring to Syria although Tehran might be tempted into closer ties.
Much to chew on in Washington and certainly gristle in the Trump nightly cheeseburger. Most probably the intelligence agencies have been aware of these weapons but Mr. Putin has now drawn a line in no uncertain terms. Perhaps it was the Russian deaths in Syria from U.S. bombing but U.S. impunity seems to be coming to an end.
[Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record. The article appearedin countercurrents.org.]
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