Trump: The rant that stunned his Cabinet
Americans know that President Trump often acts like a “middle-school playground bully,” said Joe Klein in The Washington Post. But in a new book, entitled A Very Stable Genius, we get a jaw-dropping example of Trump at his worst, as he launched an “astonishing verbal assault” on his national security team. The incident occurred six months into Trump’s term, when former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster convened a meeting between the president and the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon to educate him about the importance of America’s strategic alliances. Feeling that he was “being patronized,” Trump went ballistic. He demanded to know why the generals weren’t charging allies for “our soldiers” and military bases. “We should make money off of everything!” he yelled, berating his Cabinet as “losers” and “dopes and babies.” In an insult that left the military brass looking down at the table, the red-faced president shouted, “I wouldn’t go to war with you people.”
Undoubtedly, Trump comes off as a clueless toddler in the book, said Jack Holmes in Esquire.com. But “in fairness,” he does have a point about the military insisting we must maintain bases “all over the world, always.” Not only does this “relentless meddling and interventionism” cost a lot of money, but there are “negative consequences” to our playing global policeman. That said, I don’t think that Trump—with his “emotional meltdowns and irrational spasms”—is the right person to tackle this problem.
The episode at the Pentagon is but one in a book that reads like a “comic horror story,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. Other passages reveal that Trump once implored Tillerson to help get rid of a law prohibiting U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials to win business, and that during a trip to Hawaii Trump “appeared to have no idea” about what happened at Pearl Harbor. Trump once told an astonished Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “It’s not like you’ve got China on your border,” despite 2,500 miles of shared frontier. Trump is not the only one who comes off badly in this book, said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. Tillerson, Mattis, and other administration officials had a patriotic responsibility to sound the alarm on “how dangerous Trump is” and how utterly unfit he is for the presidency. Instead, they remain “shamefully silent” to this day.