When President Obama wanted to silence critics who claimed he wasn’t tough enough on terrorists, he’d point to that day in May 2011, when the Navy Seals raided Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad and killed him. That usually did the trick (at least temporarily), because no one could challenge the courage it took to order and execute the raid on the mastermind of 9/11.
But that didn’t stop Donald Trump from demeaning the whole enterprise when he was reminded that Admiral Bill McRaven, who led the raid, rebuked his attacks on the press.
Trump on retired Navy SEAL Adm. Bill McRaven, who called Trump's attacks on the press "the greatest threat to democracy."
"He's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?" pic.twitter.com/lyaBvC9KFd
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 18, 2018
The president’s first attempt at deflection was to suggest that McRaven’s comments were simply political because he’s supposedly was a Clinton and Obama backer—which is nonsense. But then he goes on to suggest that we should have gotten bin Laden a lot sooner, blaming Pakistan for knowing where he was and not telling us. Any shred of cooperation with that country might have just gone out the window.
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan responded by saying that Pakistan had suffered enough fighting terrorism on behalf of the United States.
“Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests,” he wrote on Twitter.
The exchange aggravated an already tense relationship between the two countries.
Besides being a bully, Trump also demonstrated that he’s an idiot. In an attempt to disparage McRaven, he once again insulted the intelligence community.
Correction needed to POTUS’s comment today that McRaven should have found bin Laden sooner. CIA did the “finding.” McRaven’s special operators did the “getting.” They moved within days of President Obama giving the order. https://t.co/7e79sDpENH
— Michael Morell (@MichaelJMorell) November 18, 2018
In response, the former CIA director had a few choice words for the president.
You constantly remind us how substantively shallow & dishonest you are on so many fronts, which is why we are in such dangerous times. You would need an extremely tall ladder to get anywhere near the level of intellect, competence & integrity of Bill McRaven & your predecessors. https://t.co/uW95ZALUZ7
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) November 19, 2018
Trump and his enablers have spun all kinds of conspiracy theories about the so-called “deep state.” But I don’t think that’s what this is about. Instead, there were two contributing factors that led to this particular moment of idiocy. First of all, Trump’s knee-jerk reaction is to attack anyone who is critical of him. His ego can’t take it.
But the whole specter of the killing of Osama bin Laden is fraught with other problems for Trump’s ego. If you remember back in May 2011, when Obama was in the midst of ordering the raid, he was roasting Donald Trump over his birther nonsense at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
The decision to order the raid on Abbottabad was a difficult call and will forever be tied to Obama’s joke about Trump’s decision to fire Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice. “These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night,” Obama said. “Well handled, sir. Well handled.”
Trump’s ego can’t handle that kind of public humiliation and any reminder of it will likely result in a viscous attack—like the one we saw during his interview with Chris Wallace.
Recognizing this pattern in Donald Trump is nothing new to anyone paying attention these last few years. But I never want to get used to the idea that the president of the United States is so mentally disturbed that he lashes out with totally made up stories whenever he perceives a threat to his ego. We’ve never seen anything like this in American politics, and the whole nightmare can’t end too soon.