Military Won’t Back Trump; Justice Ginsburg’s Political Myopia

OPINION

By George Howland Jr.

1. Trump has alienated the military leadership

If President Donald J. Trump is convicted by the U.S. Senate or if he loses the 2020 election, many liberals and lefties worry he won’t leave office voluntarily. I am not overly concerned. In order to carry out a coup, Trump will need the active cooperation of the military. And the leadership of the armed services regard the president as a harmful buffoon.

Over the weekend, Trump fired Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer. The termination resulted from the parties disagreeing over Trump’s pardon of Navy SEAL and Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who had been convicted of a war crime violating military law. First, Trump pardoned Gallagher, 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance, a soldier convicted of war crimes and Major Mathew Golsteyn, who was awaiting trial for a war crime. The military brass made no secret of its unhappiness.

CBS News reported former Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey tweeting, “Absent evidence of innocence or injustice the wholesale pardon of US servicemembers accused of war crimes signals our troops and allies that we don’t take the Law of Armed Conflict seriously. Bad message. Bad precedent. Abdication of moral responsibility. Risk to us. #Leadership.”

In response to Gallagher’s pardon, the Navy leadership went after the sailor’s “Trident Pin,” essentially wanting to boot him out of the SEALs, a special operations force. Trump interfered with military discipline again, ordering that Gallagher be reinstated.

Navy Secretary Spencer refused to cave to the president’s orders and was fired.

This is the latest incident in an ongoing war between military leaders and the president.

Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly served first as Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security and then as his chief of staff. It didn’t go well. Kelly recalled telling Trump, “I said, whatever you do — and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place — I said whatever you do, don’t hire a ‘yes man,’ someone who won’t tell you the truth — don’t do that. Because if you do, I believe you will be impeached,” according to CNN.

Retired Army Lt. General H.R. McMaster became Trump’s national security adviser. After McMaster left the Trump administration, he said some of his former colleagues were “a danger to the Constitution,” reported Politico.

From 2017-18, retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis filled the Secretary of Defense post for Trump. The Atlantic reported that Mattis told his friends that Trump was “of limited cognitive ability and of generally dubious character.”

If the U.S. military must choose sides between a rogue Trump and the rule of law, it’s clear the leaders of the armed forces will support the latter.

2. Justice Ginsburg’s Partisan Politics Blindness

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a legal giant. Ginsburg, of course, has been a monumental leader of the Court’s liberal wing. Before her Court appointment, Ginsburg made history by successfully winning greater equality for women before the law. When it comes, however, to partisan political instincts, Ginsburg is no whiz.

Her hospitalization over the weekend frightened every liberal, lefty, Democrat, feminist and civil libertarian in the country. If Trump gets to replace Ginsburg, the Supreme Court will incontrovertibly become a strongly reactionary body for at least a generation.

This could have been prevented if Ginsburg had a better sense of partisan politics.

To review: In 1999, Ginsburg had treatment for colon cancer; February 2009 brought early stage pancreatic cancer.

In 2009, the Democrats controlled the presidency, the House and the Senate. Ginsburg was 76 years old and had served on the court for 16 years—not long enough but a good run. At that point, Ginsburg should have left the Court. By the end of 2009, it was obvious to any political hack that President Barack Obama and the Democrats would lose Congress in the midterms.

Instead Ginsburg stayed on and last year survived both lung cancer and a reoccurrence of pancreatic cancer. How much longer can she keep herself alive by sheer willpower?

Back in 2009, her brilliant intellect needed some advice from the lowly creatures who reside in the contaminated, muddy ditch of American partisan politics.

 

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