I’m not a fan of military history, or books by generals — but I have downloaded Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster, Trump’s new NSC director. I am interested in the VietNam war, which consumed much of my young adulthood. And I’m interested in the people Trump is putting in influential positions.
Trump is reminding me of an abusive parent or spouse: he runs around blustering and breaking things, putting all of us on edge. Then he does something pretty normal, like pick an H.R. McMaster. We relax a little, thinking things might be all right — until the next eruption, sure to be coming soon. This is going to go on for four years.
I’m wondering how a McMaster, a Tillerson, a Mattis, function in this environment. They are, without a doubt, capable and sensible people. The administration they serve is none of those things. They compete for the president’s ear with people like Bannon and Miller — and who’s the other right wing looney in the White House, somebody named Gorka?
On the home front, Republicans in Congress have the power to enact their most sweeping ideological dreams. I think we actually do have to go there as a country — give big tax cuts to the rich, gut environmental protection, swing the courts sharply to the side of business interests and big money and conservative religious beliefs, eliminate most of the social safety net that has been around since the New Deal, and work hard to keep out Muslims and immigrants of color — to break the fever of gridlock and see if that’s what the majority of voters really want. Much of the nation has voted Republicans into office at the state and national level — here comes the Republican agenda, full bore. Sounds to me like a darker, meaner nation, but for the moment, my side didn’t win.