There are days — though I hate to admit it — that I sit at my keyboard hoping that inspiration will arrive like some enlightening bolt from the blue. In other words, sometimes I feel out of ideas to write about (Ed: gasp!).
Today is not one of those days.
Rather, today is a day with far too much to write about. Happily, there is an overall theme that unites these issues under the banner of hypocrisy in action. They involve military trials, a Denver radio host, and our nation’s highest law enforcement officer declaring metaphorical war on the principles of our Constitution. Other than that, I don’t have much to say.
My first gut reaction is to rail against the pardons, announced late on Friday in the time period often used to bury stories that an administration hopes won’t draw too much attention, wherein Mr. Trump pardoned several military members either tried, on trial, or awaiting trial on war crimes. I admit, this issue is a tough one for me as a career military officer. Frankly, if you weren’t there (as I wasn’t), it’s very difficult in the fog of war to know what actions are tragic but necessary in armed conflict, and which actions are — regardless of circumstance — horrific and illegal. That’s what the trials are for. But after Trump’s legal actions, we won’t ever know. These are tough cases but include one in which a military member was turned in by most of his own men for committing atrocities. In any case, it seems unwise to me to pardon people before they’ve even had their trial.
Now, let’s think big picture for a minute. What message was just sent to the nations of the world? What risks now escalate for any US military member captured in conflict by the bad guys? Trump has manifestly increased the risk for US military personnel around the globe, and, in my view, thwarted justice. Oh, and please remember that it was established long ago that accepting a pardon is an admission of guilt. How can you get pardoned for something you didn’t do?
Which, in my mind's ebbs and flows, brings us to Craig Silverman, of late with Denver radio station KNUS. Depending on whom you believe, Mr. Silverman was either fired on air for daring to suggest a negative thought on the actions of our president — or — it was all a misunderstanding and things are all good, with puppies running around the studio.
What did happen last week is that the generally conservative radio host was yanked off the air, mid broadcast, as he was talking about the importance of remembering the life and times of Roy Cohn, a “fix it” man and, frankly, horrible human being, for whom President Trump has oft expressed affection. So, as Mr. Silverman reran an interview with Roger Stone (now a convicted felon and POTUS buddy), his station manager walked into the studio and announced, “you’re done.” The station then went to a national news feed, and Mr. Silverman exited the building. The station is now saying that any suggestion Silverman was pulled due to criticisms of Trump are silly, and that all their on-air folks have total freedom to express their views. The only evidence to the contrary, apparently, being that they did pull Silverman off the air, but who are you going to believe — the after-the-fact press release from KNUS or your ly’n ears?
Finally, in a speech that should chill everyone in Colorado and the nation to the bone, our nation’s current top law enforcement officer, Attorney General William Barr, gave a speech at the Federalist Society, Barr declared that the “left” was trying to reduce the power of the executive branch in a way unprecedented in history. I attended a Federalist Society annual meeting in DC years ago, as they professed to being all about the Constitution and a clear understanding, one would suppose, of the role of checks and balances.
I’ve said before that the current GOP relies on the three A’s — anger, apathy, and amnesia. Clearly, Mr. Barr is homed in on the last one. He hopes that today’s radically right GOP will forget that they used to be the party against too much power in a president. Remember Mitch McConnell’s comments on President Obama’s supposed overuse of executive orders? There are countless other examples. But now that Trump is on office, suddenly it’s the Dems that are the party of limited government?
So, there in one column you see three examples of what’s messed up with the Party of Trump today. I’ll wait a moment for your head to stop spinning.
Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.