First His Grotesque Account of the ISIS Raid, Then Washington Baseball Fans Chant ‘Lock Him Up!’
That Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president, and cannot be trusted with national security secrets, was on full display Sunday.
What should have been a simple but triumphant announcement on the death of a dangerous man, the ideological leader of ISIS, became a display of Trump’s sick mind. It also showed as nonsense Trump’s claims to have defeated ISIS.
During the announcement, Trump lied repeatedly because that is just what he does. He didn’t even tell Americans that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi committed suicide, killing three children as well before he could be assassinated. Instead, Trump created the false impression that American forces killed al-Baghdadi, saying it was “something really amazing to see…as though you were watching a movie.”
Trump thanked foreign governments, notably Russia, before he thanked U.S. forces.
Trump is so obsessed with celebrity that he discussed the death of al-Baghdadi in Page Six gossip column terms, using his ignorance as a reference point and trying to diminish the success of former President Barack Obama’s administration in hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden in 2011.
“We would kill terrorist leaders, but they were names I never heard of,” Trump said. “They were names that weren’t recognizable, and they weren’t the big names. Some good ones, some important ones, but they weren’t the big names.”
Then Trump puffed up ISIS for reasons that were not clear while showing how thoughts pop up in his jumbled mind like random weeds but always making it about him.
ISIS members, he said, “use the internet better than almost anybody in the world—perhaps other than Donald Trump. And what they’ve done with the internet through recruiting and everything—and that’s why he [al-Baghdadi] died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying.”
Trump thanked foreign governments, notably Russia, before he thanked U.S. forces.
“Russia treated us great,” he said.
“They opened up. We had a flyover certain Russia areas, Russia-held areas. Russia was great.”
Problem is, Russia dismissed Trump’s thanks for help with the al-Baghdadi raid. “We are unaware of any alleged assistance … during this operation,” Russian Major-General Igor Konashenkov told a Kremlin news outlet. Russia favored Trump in 2016 not because it loves him so much as it wanted to block Hillary Clinton, who had vowed to force the Kremlin to give up Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Trump failed to advise the eight members of Congress who by law are required to get advance notification. He did, however, inform Russia, showing again that Trump’s de facto policy is Russia First.
Trump also thanked Turkey, foolishly and gratuitously giving away operational details.
“Turkey—we dealt with them. They knew we were going in. We flew over some territory. They were terrific.
“No problem. They were no problem…
“We flew very, very low and very, very fast.”
How many governments are going to pause, and perhaps say no, when asked for help for fear Trump will out them?
This is a growing concern since May 2017 when Trump revealed highly classified information, including another country’s sources and methods, to two Russian spymasters in the Oval Office.
Throughout his announcement, Trump wallowed in self-congratulation sprinkled amidst extensive gruesome details. For as long as I have covered Trump, 31 years, he has revealed violent fantasies, becoming animated when discussing painful and gory events.
But take heart, for there was one important development that bodes well for our republic.
Within hours of his televised statement, serving military officers, diplomats and others were dishing on Trump, pointing out his lies, filling factual gaps and warning how the president’s conduct is endangering our national security.
Why is that good news? Because it reaffirms that Trump does not have the support of our military officer corps, without which he cannot stage a coup d’état.
And we know that’s on his mind because he talks about it often though in accusatory terms toward House Democrats who are following proper Constitutional procedure to impeach him.
As a general rule, when Trump accuses others of anything it is what he is thinking, or knows, about himself.
Trump displays his contempt for our Constitution, and following the law when he dismisses the impeachment inquiry as “a scam” and “a lynching.” That’s another sign that he wants to be a dictator for life.
Trump described al-Baghdadi’s last moments in lurid detail that again showed his animus for people whose ethnicity is other than white European, and remind us that Trump is an uncivilized man. Civilized people, even in the necessary killing of the most horrible among us, conduct themselves with dignity.
When Nazi, Fascist band Japanese war criminals were tried and then executed after World War II, Americans carrying out executions acted with solemnity to show America acts with respect for life even in ending the lives of those who engaged in torture and mass murder.
Trump went on and on with gruesome details in marked contrast to the crisp and civilized remarks of former President Barack Obama when Osama bin Laden was killed.
al-Baghdadi “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” Trump said. “He died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying… He died like a dog. He died like a coward.”
Yet al-Baghdadi also took his unavoidable fate into his own hands by detonating a suicide vest before he could be shot, a fact that does not fit Trump’s narrative, but likely describes how Trump would act were he being pursued.
What happens next with ISIS is not going to go as well for America as it would have but for Trump’s abrupt and inexplicable withdrawal from Northern Syria earlier this month. He never told the generals before he tweeted, forcing our soldiers to flee half-eaten meals, as shown on Russian TV. American planes had to be sent to blow up the munitions left behind.
Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS under both Obama and Trump, laid out some of the awful truth in a smart Washington Post op-ed today.
Whoever rises to replace al-Baghdadi, that “successor will keep the Islamic State alive in Iraq and Syria” with its more than 10,000 fighters, but for now no territory controlled by the terrorist organization.
“This would be the perfect time to consolidate success and act on what is likely a trove of intelligence pulled from the Baghdadi compound,” McGurk wrote Monday.
“Our analysts are surely poring over this information now, and it will lead to Islamic State sleeper cells and networks across Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. But our abrupt pullout from Syria will make it harder to act on this information” because U.S. Special Forces were forced to flee and “these areas are now controlled by Russia and the Bashar al-Assad regime, foreclosing our ability to act on targetable information.”
Keep in mind that ISIS arose after the George W. Bush administration breaking its promise to Iraqi military officers that if they did not resist much they would be treated well, only to fire every one of them. ISIS offered career military officers jobs and they signed up, though many did not share its ideological convictions.
‘Lock Him Up’
The balance of this column has been rewritten since it appeared Oct. 28 at Raw Story to more carefully articulate my thoughts. I do this in response to the many readers at RawStory and several other websites, on Twitter, Facebook and in emails who took umbrage at my observations.
Trump arrived for the fifth game of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros with his wife, but not his 13-year-old son, Barron. Instead, he brought a squad of GOP senators and two Congressmen.
Florida frat boy Matt Gaetz was in the entourage. Gaetz led the lawless mob of lawmakers who invaded a secure House hearing room endangering national security.
When the Nationals stadium Jumbotron showed Trump and his companions at the end of the fifth inning the crowd broke into boos and chants of “lock him up.”
That’s understandable on one level, but also troubling for the long-term health of our democracy. And concern must be with our democracy, never with Trump.
The spontaneous chant mocked Trump, who moves in a bubble to create the false impression that everywhere he goes Americans universally adore him. A majority do not. The Sunday boos and the chant gave Trump a well-deserved taste of what a majority of Americans feel about him and his lawless administration.
But as a free people, we must also take care that we do not sink to the level of mindless Trumpism, that we don’t, however unintentionally, embrace his techniques to denigrate opponents.
Let’s never forget that our founding document was a model of reason and rationality. We must take care so that when Trump is gone we don’t remain stuck in his gutter, but instead take a high road to ensure the viability of our two-century long experiment in self-governance so that the liberties of the people endure.
As much as we believe at DCReport that Trump should be removed from office and prosecuted for his many state and federal crimes, we call out conduct of all kinds that if pursued without thought can become as inimical to liberty and justice as Trumpism. For sure that is not what happened Sunday with the spontaneous chants, but let’s always be mindful, never mindless, so that we emerge from this short era unburdened by Trump baggage.