Trump’s First Choice To Replace Mike Flynn Turned Him Down Due To Chaos In Administration

Chaos inside the Trump Administration is causing people to turn down lucrative positions.

Donald Trump

President Trump’s first choice to replace Lt. General Michael Flynn turned the job offer down:

WASHINGTON — Robert S. Harward, the retired vice admiral and former Navy SEAL who was President Trump’s top choice to replace his ousted national security adviser, on Thursday turned down the post in the latest setback for a White House already in turmoil.

“This job requires 24 hours a day, seven days a week focus and commitment to do it right,” Mr. Harward said in a statement. “I currently could not make that commitment.”

He added that since retiring from a 40-year military career, he now had “the opportunity to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position.”

Two senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, confirmed that Mr. Harward cited family and financial considerations in turning down the post.

But his decision reflected the continuing upheaval in Mr. Trump’s White House, which was rocked this week by the resignation of Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, quickly followed by the abrupt withdrawal of Andrew Puzder, his nominee for secretary of labor.

White House officials had scrambled to head off the refusal, asserting as late as Thursday evening that Mr. Harward, who is close to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, was still in the running to become Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.

Current and former national security officials familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said Mr. Harward had harbored strong reservations from the beginning about taking the post because of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable style and the level of chaos that has engulfed his White House. Those were only underscored this week in the politically charged aftermath of Mr. Flynn’s ouster, despite the attempts of Mr. Trump’s inner circle to allay his concerns.

One person briefed on the discussions said that Mr. Harward, who had been interviewing for a different administration post when he was tabbed for the N.S.C., had been startled by media accounts of Mr. Trump telling the deputy national security adviser, who was close to Mr. Flynn, that she could stay in her post. It added to his concerns about working for a mercurial president.

Mr. Trump suggested earlier Thursday that he had demanded Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday partly because of enthusiasm about an unnamed person he had in mind to replace him. The president had known since last month that Mr. Flynn had misrepresented conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, before Mr. Trump was inaugurated, about American sanctions on Moscow.

“I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference on Thursday. “And that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision.”

But by then Mr. Harward, who is a top executive at Lockheed Martin, had decided he was not willing to take the post. He wrote to Mr. Trump and Mr. Mattis conveying his decision, two of the officials said.

Late yesterday, Harward issued a statement in which he cited family considerations as the main reason for turning down the job:

However, other sources indicated that he apparently was also motivated by other considerations:

In other words, Admiral Harward took a look at the way the Trump Administration has been operating just in its first month in office and decided he didn’t want or need to be a part of that mess. A conclusion that others have no doubt reached as well. As it stands, reports this morning indicated that Trump was leaning toward offering the position to retired Lt. General Keith Kellogg, who is currently in the role on an interim basis after Flynn’s resignation. Presumably, Kellogg will accept the offer given that he stayed after Flynn’s departure. No doubt General Kellogg will fill the position skillfully and, given the fact that he lacks the questionable ties to Russia that Flynn was plagued with, it is perhaps for the best that Flynn is out and he is in as the placement as National Security Adviser. Additionally, the fact that Flynn was apparently woefully unprepared for the task he was given suggests that perhaps Kellogg should have been the first choice all along.

Notwithstanding Kellogg’s qualifications, though, the fact that someone of Harward’s stature turned down an important position because of the chaos inside the Trump Administration is obviously concerning. Harward’s attitude is certainly understandable, of course. As I’ve noted in repeated posts since Inauguration Day, the Trump Administration seems to be having particular problems adjusting to the White House, in no small part because the transition process seems to have been rather rushed and disorganized. Because of that, we’ve had a bizarre at best communications strategy, policy rollouts that have been bungled to say the least, and of course a President who continually throws the entire Administration off message just by picking up his (unsecure) phone and tweeting away the night or early morning. Why would someone who seems to be enjoying his retirement after serving honorably in uniform for decades want to sign up for such a mess? I certainly wouldn’t. At the same time, though, the fact that Trump hasn’t been able to attract top talent notwithstanding his pre-election claims to the contrary makes it inevitable that we’re like to see more of the same chaos that has marked the first four weeks of this Administration. Indeed, at this rate, one wonders how long it will be before the Trump Administration has what can objectively be called a good week. So far, there hasn’t been one, and I don’t see one in the near future.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. KM says:

    Yeah, most people need to have another job in 4 or less years after the sh^tstorm is over. Anyone with a brain won’t take these jobs – even FOX and Breitbart are starting to show intolerance towards the Administration so the last great cushion is deflating fast. It’s a hard fall to the bottom and the abyss is getting deeper by the second.

    Relevant hiring question: Would *you* want this dumpster fire on your resume? If yes, applicant is clearly in it for: (1) notoriety, (2) greed, (3) blatant power grab or (4) blind faith. All of the above would get you escorted to the door fast.

  2. Argon says:

    Think about what this says about the others who took cabinet positions. Who in their right mind would want to serve under Trump? Exactly what are they getting for doing so?

    For Pence, I can see it’s a backdoor to the Presidency.

  3. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Trump has gone further around the bend today, than even yesterday.
    https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/832708293516632065?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

  4. CSK says:

    @Argon:

    Yup. Pence has a backdoor into the presidency, which I’ve mentioned a few times, and is waiting in the wings for the moment when Trump descends into total gibbering lunacy. I can’t speak for the others. Maybe they have some vague hope of controlling him. Or they’re banking on getting great book deals and speaking fees afterward, when this all crashes and burns: “My Three Months of Horror in the Trump Administration,” or “I Worked for a Maniac and Lived to Tell the Tale.” Whatever.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    @Argon: Oligarchs want to run the country directly rarher than through surrogates. They’re literally getting what they paid for during the general election, and that’s power. What they don’t have is an understanding of the system they’ve put their grubby hands on so they’re unlikely to accomplish much in the next four years. I expect Trump will be a right-wing Jimmy Carter.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    My main hope at this point is that all of these folks end up with the stain of Failed Trump Presidency permanently attached to them as they move through life.

    I wrote kind of a long responsd a while back in response to one of “we need someone to run the government like a business!” comments here, laying out some of the practical, legal, and administrative reasons why that can’t happen and *shouldn’t* happen. Suffice it to say, we are seeing all of these limitations play out, as the career professionals in D.C. continue to follow the rule of law in doing their jobs.

    What we are seeing right now is what happens when blustery entitlement and know-nothingness runs smack into a wall of intelligence analysts and attorneys and program directors and budget coordinators keep showing up to work and doing the jobs they were hired to do. It is a demonstration of the strength of the civil service.

  7. Terrye Cravens says:

    I don’t blame the man, I would not want to deal with Trump either. And he might think he is a traitor as well.

  8. Guarneri says:

    How’s the enraged class doing today?

  9. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Ben Wolf: That’s soooo unfair to Jimmy Carter. Why are you being so mean? Sad. Pathetic.

  10. Pch101 says:

    Trump would have better luck finding applicants if he posted the job on some Russian websites.

  11. Guarneri says:

    Here’s wha a well oiled Administration looks like

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/02/17/president-obamas-national-security-advisor-deceived-people-media-laughed/

    You are all frauds. You just don’t like that Trump calls Libs out for what they are. Dishonest frauds.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    What’s fun about this is that Admiral Harward is just the kind of guy Trump and the Trumpettes claim to admire. He’s white, he’s manly, he’s likely killed people. Unfortunately for Trump, the admiral is also smart, educated and experienced. So he wisely decided not to buy a ticket on the Titanic.

    But it’s all running like a fine-tuned machine.

    It’s not at all surprising that the man-baby can’t attract good help. His entire administration runs from a gentleman’s C down to multiple F’s. The collective GPA is a D minus. But that’s OK, because stupid is the point of all this from the position of the Trump hardcore. The smart world passed them by and they are determined to re-impose stupid. Being a loser is part of Trump’s appeal, and make no mistake: he’s a loser.

  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    First…the federalist? Why not just link to zer hedge.
    Second…even if the source was credible…That’s not what it says.
    Fool

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    I savor the edge of desperation in your writing lately, Drew. Don’t bother denying it, I’m far better at understanding what you write than you are.

    I love the smell of Republican flop sweat in the morning.

  15. Moosebreath says:

    @Guarneri:

    “How’s the enraged class doing today?”

    They are supporting Trump as blindly as ever. Thank you for asking.

  16. Jake says:

    Perfect

    Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 2h2 hours ago

    The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

  17. de stijl says:

    A mercenary professional doesn’t associate with a sh!t storm unless the paycheck is very high and they can later evade the taint. Eyes on the upside.

    A true professional avoids the sh!t storm situation altogether as a matter of honor.

    We’re three weeks in and it is an utter disaster. The Trump debacle taint will be very stanky.

  18. Moosebreath says:

    And @Jake: shows up to illustrate my point.

  19. Jake says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Your ego is hurt

  20. Scott says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: @Jake:

    You know, this is really unacceptable on so many levels. I take most of his BS in stride but this is incitement. If something happens, it is on him.

    I’m putting a call tonight into may cowardly Republican Congressmen asking whether they condone this and what are they going to do.

  21. David M says:

    @Jake:

    The media aren’t the ones trying to make sure 20 million people lose health insurance so they can give a tax cut to the 1%. Although the media does help Trump and the GOP try and hide that fact, so I’m not sure why you aren’t thanking them for the help.

  22. Jake says:

    Can’t wait for the fake Harvard lawyer response sure seems he has a lot of free time.

  23. Jake says:

    @David M:

    Those are not real numbers. Study a little all you do is listen to the talking heads do your on research

  24. David M says:

    @Jake:

    Um, 20 million is understating it if anything. Partial repeal through reconciliation would kick off closer to 30 million. It should be obvious that those numbers are reasonably accurate, given that they match the number of people who have gained health insurance through Obamacare.

  25. CSK says:

    @Jake:

    Jake, do you seriously think that a bunch of paranoid crackpot semi-literate bloggers are providing you with real news?

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Jake:

    “Your ego is hurt ”

    No, I am capable of telling the difference between my ego and your butt. Even after you take your once-a-month shower.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @de stijl: Unless you happen to be a mercenary captain who switches sides during the wars a few times.

    I misremember which noted mercenary captain it was who did that during the 30 Years War in Germany. After he switched three times, someone was fed up enough to assassinate him, surprise surprise.

  28. de stijl says:

    @Jake:

    Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 2h2 hours ago

    The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

    Coming from an average Joe Moron this would be bluster.

    Instead, the President of the United States just tweeted that.

    1. The POTUS tweets
    2. Trump just said that most major US news organizations are “the enemy of the American People!”
    3. And you approve of that sentiment

    I could give a crap about you, Jake, but that Trump said that is extraordinary. Not just troubling, but utterly chilling. Evocative of the worst times in human history. Terrifying. shocking, stunning. I am gob-smacked.

    This travesty cannot continue. My God what have we done?

  29. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Enemy of the people?
    Prior to the Revolution the British authorities prohibited and controlled the circulation of information the didn’t approve of.
    There’s a reason that freedom of the press is in the very first amendment.
    Trump, and the complete morons who support him, want the US to return to the authoritarianism and tyranny of King George 3.
    We owe it to everyone who has lost their life fighting for our freedom to oppose these stupid fuqs.

  30. Argon says:

    Speaking of those who’ve sold their souls at the crossroads long ago…. Do we need to put Kellyanne Conway’s picture on the side of a milk carton? She’s been uncharacteristically absent from the front of cameras for at least two days.

  31. Barry says:

    @Argon: “Think about what this says about the others who took cabinet positions. Who in their right mind would want to serve under Trump? Exactly what are they getting for doing so?”

    Note that there were a lot of billionaires, and IIRC they seemed to be taking offices directly relevant their prime looting interests desires to serve America.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Argon:
    Lawyer shopping?

  33. michael reynolds says:

    Flynn fired for inadvertently revealing that his boss is a Soviet Russian tool; Harward doesn’t want to eat sh-t; Petraeus says nope. We just need to raise Patton and MacArthur from the grave so they can tell the man-baby to f-ck off and maybe it’d get through.

  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jake:

    Try harder, dear boy. I don’t swing at whiffle balls

  35. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @michael reynolds: to slap the shit out of some malingerers

  36. Hal_10000 says:

    Well, that’s a pity. I respect his choice but Trump, more than anyone, needs competent people around him. He tends to be swayed by whomever has whispered in his ear latest and the more competent people around him, the more likely he is to hear good advice. Upgrading from Flynn to Harward would have been a huge improvement.

  37. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Upgrading from Flynn to Harward would have been a huge improvement.

    Indeed, it would have been tremendous.

    Unfortunately, few people who possess the principles and competence to do well in cabinet posts are willing to serve in the Trump administration. Nobody worthy of those jobs will actually want them.

  38. Mikey says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Trump, and the complete morons who support him, want the US to return to the authoritarianism and tyranny of King George 3.

    Indeed they do. Authoritarianism is the single most significant predictor of support for Trump.

  39. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    How’s the enraged class doing today?

    Well, Trump and his supporters hate the media more than ever – amazing, about 4 weeks in and they’re more enraged than ever. Thanks for asking.

  40. Janis Gore says:

    I saw Sebastion Gorka on Fox the other day. He said news outlets should be carrying good news from the President. For instance, he brought 20 special forces soldiers into the Oval Office the other day and volunteered to have his picture taken with each and every one.

    Isn’t that nice?

  41. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Poor Jake…too dumb to realize how stupid he is.
    It’s always the ones who are being conned who are the last to figure it out.
    Trump is at 38% and falling like a rock. Jake will be one of the last to accept that this is already a failed presidency.

  42. Lynn Eggers says:

    I’ve enjoyed this blog for years, though I haven’t commented much. I’ve respected the attention to facts by the bloggers, and have appreciated the discussions.

    Lately, however, the comments seem to be more parry-reposte between a few trolls and the regular commentators.

    Too bad.

  43. CSK says:

    @Janis Gore:

    Well, Gorka was an employee of Breitbart when it was a Bannon-run enterprise, so he’s accustomed to doing propaganda for Trump.

  44. CSK says:

    Petraeus took his name out of contention. Apparently he didn’t want to have to report to Steve Bannon or Jared Kushner and then have to ask permission to see the president.

  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lynn Eggers:

    And I would agree, except there is very little to actually debate these days. Any thinking person – of all political persuasions – agrees that this presidency is an unmitigated disaster. What little debate there might be centers around degree, not character.

  46. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    One of my guilty pleasures–a juvenile one, to be sure–is disaster movies. I seem to be compelled to follow the Trump maladministration by the same impulse that draws me to watch San Francisco/New York/London/Boston being destroyed by evil aliens/floods/tornadoes/tsunamis/earthquakes/volcanoes.

  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    There’s a reason that freedom of the press is in the very first amendment.
    Trump, and the complete morons who support him, want the US to return to the authoritarianism and tyranny of King George 3.

    Yes. The Madness of King Trump.

    History repeats, far too often.

    Pax Americana is over.

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    Sooner or later either Bruce Willis or The Rock needs to show up and fix this mess.

  49. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well, I gotta say The Rockster did a helluva clean-up job in San Andreas. I also have the impression he’s not crazy about Trump, either, so he may be just the dude for the job.

  50. rachel says:

    @CSK: It would be pretty galling to answer to those jerks in addition to the parole officer he already has to report to.

  51. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Lynn Eggers: Completely agree here. I think I mentioned about a year back that I would appreciate more strictly conservative viewpoints here. The problem, as mentioned, is that shortly after Obamas election the differences between sane conservatives and liberals tended to blur as the GOP descended into utter lunacy.

  52. CSK says:

    @rachel:

    Anyone who takes this job is going to have to agree to be subservient to Bannon and Kushner, as well as allow them to pick/approve the National Security Council members. This is Trump’s requirement–or, more likely, Bannon’s and Kushner’s. Eventually they’ll find some doormat who’ll comply.

  53. grumpy realist says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m pulling back from politics, partly due to my acute disgust with 40% of the American populace. Some of them are gullible enough to believe that Trump will actually carry through with his promises, which puts them in the same category as people who fall for Nigerian spam. The rest of the Trump supporters are egging the guy on because either they just want to see the entire system go to pot or because they think they can use him. The Samson Effect. We’re bored with our lives and can’t figure out anything productive to do, so let’s blow the whole thing up. Riiiiight.

    One thing neither set of lunatics seems to understand is that revolutions aren’t manageable.

    And given all the other problems we really do have to deal with (global warming, effects of robotization on the US workforce, bee colony collapse, etc.), deciding you want to pull the entire system down because you’re in a snit that people won’t hire your high-school dropout ass for $50 per hour is a really, really stupid way to try to fix things.

    Trump thrives on chaos and being the center of attention. I see no reason why the rest of us should oblige him.

    Back to work.

  54. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m pulling back from politics, partly due to my acute disgust with 40% of the American populace.

    This is exactly the wrong response.

    Fight for your country. It belongs to you, and you need to take it back.

    While you’re at it, acquire a taste for blood, because you’re going to need it.

  55. Mikey says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    I think I mentioned about a year back that I would appreciate more strictly conservative viewpoints here.

    Well, you know, when the conservatives send their people, they’re not sending their best.

  56. Janis Gore says:

    Here’s a choice article on K.T. McFarland from the NY Senate race in 2006:

    http://nypost.com/2006/03/25/kooky-kts-spy-tale-hills-helicopters-watching-me-rival/

  57. de stijl says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    I’m actually am a small-c conservative. I value stability and prudence.

    When taking a risky move we should always, as a matter of course, have a defensible fallback.

    I am also a progressive.

    I want liberty and justice applied to all the people in in my city and in my county and in my state and in my country. I want those who have been or felt “Othered” in the past to be fully incorporated and accepted into the larger society as full citizens duly guaranteed the rights promised us in our constitution.

    I want the circle of liberty and justice to be an ever expanding one.

    Thus, I cannot in good conscience, vote for anyone with an “R” after their name.

    I do not agree with their policies or their values, Until the early nineties, I used to search out for a local Republican that I could vote for and not feel compromised about doing so. As a a small-c conservative I value a vigorous give-and take in our government. I think that’s healthy.

    After Gingrich I have found it to be pointless and fruitless to search for that one not totally insane Republican to vote for. There are none. Republicans are patriots and citizens, but their views are antithetical to mine and they actively pursue policies which are dangerous. They are an impediment to progress and stability.

    I am a small c conservative and, thus, I vote for the Democrats. I have to.

  58. de stijl says:

    Edit function is unavailable… I am thwarted.

    Future historians, I know you value extant documents, and you will inevitably be subtly influenced by the scary personality cult that will arise from my transformative and cogent and punchy small c-convservative / progressive manifesto, but please include the following changes:

    “I’m actually am a…”

    In first sentence s/b “I’m actually an a…”

    and, “…all the people in in my city…” s/b “…all the people in my city…”

    Thanks. Toodles!

    PS – Don’t let the scary personality cult get you down. Fight the power!

  59. grumpy realist says:

    @Pch101: The best way I can think of taking it back is to not do so. Let another country become the location where all the innovators and people who want to actually make something of themselves can move to. After the great idiots of the US manage to dissipate into oblivion because of some antibiotic-resistant illness that mutated over from pigs, we’ll come back and clean up all the mess.

    I have no reason to have fealty to a populace that wants to put me up against a wall and shoot me for being an “elite”.

  60. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist: I know there are very many Americans who want to make something of themselves, but unfortunately could not move to another country, for very many reasons. What of them?

    I could move. I’m educated and well-off and my wife having been born German gives my family an “in” over there. But I’ve spent my entire adult life in the service of this country in some capacity, and I’m not giving up now just because we have a stupid electoral system that allows the overwhelming loser to actually gain office. We’re needed here, now, to make sure 2018 is the utter political bloodbath for the GOP that it needs to be.

  61. de stijl says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    I would appreciate more strictly conservative viewpoints here

    Define “conservative”

    It seems like you’re forgetting that James Joyner is a Republican, Doug Mataconis a right-Libertarian, and Steven is a dyed in the wool centrist.

    This blog was meant to be a pro-Republican war-blog (remember when that was a thing?) but it got captured by a left-leaning commentariat.

    Same thing happened to Balloon Juice and Little Green Footballs, but there the principles actually flipped their politics.

    Unlike Balloon Juice and LGF, where the comments sections are, as a rule, self-congratulatory circle-fests with shared in-jokes galore, OTB comments actually are worth reading.

    Yeah, we have sub-par right-leaning commentators at OTB, but they are paragons of virtue compared to commentators on most right-leaning blogs where casual misogyny and unchecked racist comments abound.

    If you are looking for intelligent American conservatism in a blog / comment format (yeah, I know, the joke the writes itself) maybe some of The American Conservative blogs (BTW, check out Rod Dreher when you’re there, he’s adorable. Insane, but adorable. If Lothar of The Hill People became an orthodox Christian after an exhausting sampling of Christendom’s most authoritative and misogynistic and tranny-hating factions were compiled, Dreher’s blog would totally be his fave. I forgot – SJWs Rod hates SJWs), The League Of Ordinary Gentlemen has a few right-leaning voices that are not totes bonkers. Obsidian Wings may be worth checking out.

  62. dxq says:

    This blog was meant to be a pro-Republican war-blog (remember when that was a thing?) but it got captured by a left-leaning commentariat.

    Same thing happened to Balloon Juice and Little Green Footballs, but there the principles actually flipped their politics.

    Unlike Balloon Juice and LGF, where the comments sections are, as a rule, self-congratulatory circle-fests with shared in-jokes galore, OTB comments actually are worth reading.

    Liberals like me like this blog because there are conservative-leaning viewpoints represented by a few fairly smart people. I’m happy to change my mind if someone makes a better case. But the majority of conservatism has degenerated into “TRUMP THAT BITCH” “OBAMA IS A LYING AFRICAN” etc. I don’t want to wade into those sewers.

  63. de stijl says:

    @dxq:

    I don’t want to wade into those sewers.

    Don’t get off the boat. Never get off the boat. No matter how much you want those tasty mangoes, do not get off the boat.

  64. de stijl says:

    @Lynn Eggers:

    Lately, however, the comments seem to be more parry-reposte between a few trolls and the regular commentators.

    Too bad.

    Respectfully, do something about that.

    Raise an interesting and debatable side issue – bring your passion. Indulge your obsessions and bring those topics up in a related thread. Tell us what you’re reading right now or watching right now and how you think that relates to what we’re debating. Search out interesting right-leaning voices and invite them to join (Good luck on that one).

    Engage with the right-leaning contributors here and try to draw them out so it’s not just some tiresome parry – riposte. “Why?” is always a good question to ask someone, because then you get beyond the issue at hand and you can start to divine their nature and personality and motivations.

  65. de stijl says:

    @Lynn Eggers: @Ebenezer_Arvigenius:

    Here’s my gambit.

    I have fairly unformed theory about what makes Trump tick, but here goes:

    1. Trump has pressing psychological need to feel like he’s “winning.” Whether he’s actually winning is immaterial – he just needs to feel like he is doing so.

    2. Trump understands on a level that is very near conscious without fully crossing that threshold that he is never going to be the smartest person in the room. Trump understands on every level that he is the richest and most “successful” person in the room.

    3. Trump must “win” and, so, he must intimidate and silence every smart person he interacts with because they are an inherent threat – because they have the ability to see through him as he actually is.

    4. Those psychological traits influence everything he does.

    That’s it for now.

    Tell me where I got it wrong (or right). Provide counter-examples. Dispute my premises. Talk to me.

  66. de stijl says:

    Second gambit.

    What is the likelihood that the FSB has video of Trump banging a Russian prostitute in some Moscow hotel room?

    1. Prior to his election, Trump had stabbed at running for President, what, three / four times?

    2. The FSB is good at this. It’s what they do.

    3. Trump may be the most honeypot-able guy ever. Dangle a treat in front of his nose and he’ll bite. Witness the Billy Bush video. (Well, Bill Clinton would be in the running as most honeypot-able, but he’s probably gunshy and savvier after you know what.)

    4. If that video exists, how does Putin play this?

  67. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    3. Trump must “win” and, so, he must intimidate and silence every smart person he interacts with because they are an inherent threat – because they have the ability to see through him as he actually is.

    I forgot a point:

    Trump cannot ever forget or forgive anyone he feels has disrespected him. Anyone who does so must be destroyed.

  68. Zachriel says:

    Trump is a grossly ignorant shallow narcissist with no conception of how to wield the awesome power of the U.S. presidency. And that means …

    There is a vacuum at the center of American power.

    While Trump continues to distract the public, there is an ongoing struggle to fill that vacuum.

  69. JohnMcC says:

    Another vacancy just opened up on the NSC: Craig Deare, head of Latin-American Affairs, was apparently just walked out by some Security Agency people. Apparently he’d shown excess independence in private conversation and someone informed on him.

    This administration gets scarier and scarier.

    I recommend resistancerecess-dot-com. Choose your hometown/state. Attend. I’ll be in front of Li’l Marco’s Tampa office on Tuesday.

  70. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Deare’s problems run way beyond what he may have said in a meeting. The man is singularly and spectacularly unsuitable for any position involving national security.

  71. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92: And yet despite all that he was named to that position and apparently nobody in the Trump administration had any issue with his manifest problems until he was caught saying something disapproving of Trump.

    A mere coincidence, I’m sure…hahahahahaha…

  72. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    They’re essentially conducting a purge. One of Carson’s senior aides was fired a few days ago and led out of the building by security, apparently without anyone bothering to tell Carson it was going to happen, based on a op-ed the guy wrote during the campaign.

    I think the net effect of this will be that no one who is even close to being reputable in their field / is capable of adequately serving in these positions will go anywhere near this administration now. It will become a race to the bottom as the SES positions in this admin are populated by sycophants and mediocrities.

    Which, I have to say, is exactly the same environment that I witnessed for years at Trump Org.