I should only have to write these names to illustrate Mr. Trump’s attitude toward members of the armed forces: Ghazala and Khizr Khan, Captain Humayun Khan, John McCain. I should only have to write these names to serve as an example of his approach to foreign affairs: Vladimir Putin and NATO. The names alone should be enough to trigger the memories that would lead one to a belief that Mr. Trump is the worst possible choice to give the keys to the Kingdom of this country’s power.
Commander in Chief and leader of the Free World: those titles, as with the economy, sit atop structures of immense complexity. They require that the President be able to understand and implement the concept of balance of forces, be patient in the application of power as well as decisive, and sometimes be calm enough to do nothing at all. A President needs to be able to separate myth from reality, have an appreciation of detail, be curious, endlessly curious, be able to do somersaults of the imagination — see the world from the perspective of an enemy, an ally, an adversary. A President needs to be able to discern the difference between an enemy and an adversary. He or she needs a capacious imagination.
He or she must have a sense of the cost of ordering men and women into combat. This is, arguably, the President’s most important and heaviest responsibility. Such an order can never be an impulse based on machismo or panic. It must be weighed with all the deliberation and wisdom required of a decision that will make necessary the death and grievous harm of members of the armed forces.
Mr. Trump insulted John McCain’s service and his courageous experience as a POW. He insulted the memory of Captain Khan by attacking his father and then allowed his brutes to further insult his father. He asked Russia, one of our enemy’s, to further interfere in this election by hacking into the e-mail of a candidate for the President. He has given kind words to Putin, a destroyer of human rights, a tyrant, the leader of the foremost kleptocrocy in the world. No one knows what his financial connection with Russia might be because he has refused to release his tax returns or records of his investments. He has undermined NATO, the organization that came to our aid after 9-11 and that has helped keep Russia out of much of Europe.
No one person or administration handles perfectly the exercise of power inherent in the Presidency. Every administration has its foreign policy disasters, its misreadings of situations because of its own mistakes of hubris and ignorance. But Mr. Trump’s ascension to the Office would put in place a man of such intellectual, moral and emotional shortcomings as to make catastrophes inevitable.