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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump Takedowns

In  Defying the Odds, we explain that Trump has renounced the conservatism of Ronald Reagan.

To reread “The Flight 93 Election” today is to understand what has gone wrong not only with the Trump presidency, but also with so much of the conservative movement writ large. In a word, it’s become unhinged.
To imply, as Anton did, that Barack Obama, for all his shortcomings, was Ziad Jarrah, Flight 93’s lead hijacker, is vile. To suppose that we’d all be dead if Hillary Clinton, for all her flaws, had been elected is hallucinatory. To argue that the United States, for all its problems, was the equivalent of a doomed aircraft is absurd. To suggest that Donald Trump, a man who has sacrificed nothing in his life for anyone or anything, is the worthy moral heir to the Flight 93 passengers is a travesty.
It is the mark of every millenarian fanatic to assume that the world stands on the verge of a precipice, and that only radical or violent action can save it. That’s the premise of Anton’s essay. It’s also the kind of thinking that has inspired extremists from time immemorial, including the people who grabbed the planes on 9/11.
Maybe 2016 was the Flight 93 election, or something like it. Maybe the pilots are dead. Maybe the passengers failed to storm the cockpit. Maybe the hijackers reached their target by landing on the White House after all.
Gary Schmitt in The Weekly Standard:
Not unexpectedly, given the president's recent behavior in justifying his firing of the FBI director, he's now doubling down on his decision to pass this intelligence along to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, tweeting that he was justified in doing so to fight terrorism, in the name of airline flight safety, and because he wanted the Russians to "step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism." But the issue isn't Trump's goals so much as his judgment about what was necessary to tell the Russians in order to promote those goals and his judgment that divulging as much as he apparently did would actually move Moscow's own strategic thinking about Syria and ISIS. McMaster is now saying the conversation was "wholly appropriate" in context. It is impossible to assess this conclusion from the outside. Yet reports that the president was bragging to his Russian guests about the intelligence he gets as president suggest a chief executive without the kind of internal governor we expect senior officials, let alone presidents, to have. Given the president's (short) history, it is hardly a great leap to judge that he probably stepped over the line.

To be clear, the president hasn't done anything strictly illegal. As he and his defenders have argued, he does have the authority to declassify intelligence. Yet the president also has a duty, under his oath, to "faithfully execute the office of president." And while that may entail many things, it certainly covers avoiding regular and continuing car wrecks.