Duck and Cover Won’t Save Us

The American electorate made a pretty bad mistake on November 8th, as becomes more and more obvious everyday. In fairness, most of the people who showed up to vote expressed a preference for the person who didn’t win, but that doesn’t change the outcome. And I have to agree with Jonathan Chait that the most troubling aspect here is that a lot of people are going to die, and that a likely source for the bloodshed is forming around Michael Flynn and his national security staff.

Simply put, the outlook doesn’t seem good:

It is almost impossible to overstate the danger to American national security posed by the combination of Flynn and his staff. Because his appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation, and also because it has been overshadowed by the Rex Tillerson nomination and its connection to the fast-moving Russia story, Flynn has receded from the front pages. His appointment is unprecedented, like so many other other things Trump has done — indeed, the endless violations of precedent are what make Trump’s election so surreal, and its dangers difficult to order.

But it is the specific, mutually reinforcing characteristics of Flynn and his staff that invite the most alarm. He is a conspiracy theorist averse to any challenge to his suspicions, surrounding himself with a staff of fellow conspiracy theorists seemingly designed to shut out any challenge to his biases, providing advice to a novice president who is himself a conspiracy theorist. It’s under-informed, overconfident crackpots all the way down. As a comedic script, it would defy plausibility. Except there’s a terrifying chance that a lot of innocent people will die as a result.

If I have any qualm at all about Chait’s piece, it’s that he doesn’t mention that at one time in the relatively recent past Flynn was considered a gifted and visionary intelligence officer. His star was high enough that President Obama made him the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. It’s not hard to dig up glowing praise of the guy that dates from before his gig there.

Unfortunately, the record since then is clear, and the guy is a full-on nutter who is staffing up with fellow tinfoil hat travelers. When I saw her name mentioned on Twitter, I thought maybe Trump had offered the job of Press Secretary to Monica Crowley, which was a bad enough thought for me to have. When I realized that she’d been hired to serve as senior director of strategic communications of the National Security Council, I immediately loaded up a relevant video starring Bert the Turtle.

As for Joseph “Keith” Kellogg Jr. serving as the chief of staff for the National Security Council, ask your self how well he did during the five months he spent in Iraq trying to stand up the Coalition Provisional Authority. If that’s any indication of how well he’ll manage our foreign policy, we might as well move to Mosul or Aleppo.

It’s true that monkeying with Obamacare has the potential to kill thousands of people who would otherwise live. I wouldn’t want to be an asthmatic in Trump’s America, either, and it’s a safe bet that our water and foodstuffs are going to get a major carcinogenic turbo boost.

But the potential for staggering loss of life, both here and abroad, comes from a staff of birther lunatics and incompetents forming around Flynn and not subject to Senate confirmation.

The Electoral College should really pay attention to this situation, because Duck and Cover was no kind of solution in 1952 and it’s no kind of solution now.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.