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“The First Of Many”: Sen. Mark Kirk ‘Un-Endorses’ Donald Trump

The Associated Press‘ congressional correspondent Erica Werner tweeted Tuesday afternoon that Senator Mark Kirk, in the middle of a fierce re-election fight in Illinois against congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

First un-endorsement — Sen. Mark Kirk. “I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President.”

— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 7, 2016

On his own Twitter page, Kirk confirmed that he would not be supporting Trump, who as the GOP’s presidential nominee is the leader of the Republican Party:

Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.

— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016

Yesterday, Duckworth blasted Kirk for his refusal to distance himself from Trump after the presumptive nominee’s racist attacks against federal judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two class action lawsuits by former students at Trump University.

“Trump’s statements are outrageous. They are un-American and they are dangerous. They betray the weaknesses of a man who is fundamentally unsuited for the office of the presidency,” Duckworth told about 200 people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A month ago, Kirk said that Trump’s candidacy would be “a net benefit” for his Senate re-election, referencing the large numbers of Republican primary voters he was bringing out to polls. He said at that time that he would endorse the Republican nominee for president, but that he was confident voters would be able to separate his candidacy from Trump’s

“These days I’m probably the best-positioned Republican to weather the institution of Trumpism because I have been voting pro-gay rights and against the gun lobby and solidly pro-choice,” Kirk said in the CNN interview at the time.

Read Kirk’s full statement to the press on his un-endorsement below:

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers–not building walls. That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.

“As the Presidential campaign progressed, I was hoping the rhetoric would tone down and reflect a campaign that was inclusive, thoughtful and principled. While I oppose the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump’s latest statements, in context with past attacks on Hispanics, women and the disabled like me, make it certain that I cannot and will not support my party’s nominee for President regardless of the political impact on my candidacy or the Republican Party.

“It is absolutely essential that we are guided by a commander-in-chief with a responsible and proper temperament, discretion and judgment. Our President must be fit to command the most powerful military the world has ever seen, including an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. After much consideration, I have concluded that Donald Trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world.”

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Mark Kirk, Tammy Duckworth | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Donald Trump’s Bar-Stool Foreign Policy”: Disastrous In A Man Who Sits In The Oval Office

The best reason for conservatives to withhold their support from Donald Trump is that he cannot be trusted to lead America’s foreign policy or command its military. For many this is so self-evident given Trump’s character and the lack of normal political constraints under which he operates, that there’s no need to elaborate. But some need convincing.

Many of Trump’s supporters are happy that he seems to have taken on the foreign policy orthodoxies of his party. They want an America that doesn’t waste trillions of dollars in fruitless efforts like turning Iraq into a democracy, or helping Libyan rebels only to see that country become an operating base for ISIS. They know that Hillary Clinton’s instinct is to use American air power in the name of human rights even if it leads to pro-Islamist outcomes, whether in Kosovo or Libya. In fact, I want and believe the same things.

But there aren’t strong reasons to believe Trump is any better than Clinton when it comes to making peace. In fact, he may be much worse.

Trump supported all the dumb wars and interventions that he now claims to have been against. He supported President George W. Bush on invading Iraq. Though he says he was against it, Trump supported the intervention in Libya in the most anti-realist terms possible when he said, “We’ve got to go in and save these lives.” He is just all over the place, saying that we shouldn’t be involved in Syria, and then a few minutes later saying that the U.S. should create safe zones in Syria.

The simple explanation for these changes is that Donald Trump hasn’t ever thought hard about foreign policy; he simply has an instinct for where public opinion is at any moment on any given war and runs ahead of it. That’s fine for someone holding forth at the bar stool. It’s disastrous in a man who sits in the Oval Office.

Almost the entirety of the foreign policy establishment is against Donald Trump. That includes not just the hawkish neoconservatives, but also the foreign policy realists who would be the only group of advisors that could shape Trump’s “America First” foreign policy into a real alternative to the last 25 years of post-Cold War interventionism. He would simply be disarmed of the kind of expertise needed to run America’s foreign policy. Getting his way with the full-time employed members of the State and Defense Departments will prove difficult and lead to upheaval or administrative gridlock, at best.

Trump has named a handful of under-qualified foreign policy hands. Some of them are quite alarming in themselves, like Walid Phares, who has repeatedly sounded the bell that Muslims have a secret plot to take over America and impose sharia law.

Trump seems to believe any and every conspiracy theory that passes by his nose — not just that vaccines cause Down syndrome or that Barack Obama may be a secret Kenyan. He has said he believed that Obama struck a deal with the Saudis to keep oil prices low ahead of his re-election in 2012. If you thought that it was bad when the Bush administration came to believe its own bad intelligence, imagine what a Trump administration would do when the president wants to believe something. Beyond that, Trump has promised that American military members will commit war crimes and other acts of torture on his say-so, merely because he is Donald Trump.

America is already too quick to use its military power to try to shape outcomes in far-off places throughout the world. This defect would only be exacerbated if a person with Trump’s twitchy sense of honor and aggression steps into the role of commander-in-chief.

The very fact that most of the elected officials of the Republican Party — including those that once called Trump a “cancer,” a “con artist,” or an “erratic individual” who can’t be trusted with America’s nuclear arsenal — have lined up to endorse him or even become his vice president shows that our political class is unlikely to resist him doing something truly dangerous if he is perceived as popular. Too many, when faced with the choice between their high principles and Trump, chose Trump as an expediency. We should not tempt them with a choice between their president and the security of our nation.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, May 30, 2016

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, U. S. Military | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There Aren’t Two Donald Trumps”: The Only Trump We Need To Care About Is The One Totally Unqualified To Be President

Remember when then-Sen. John Edwards ran for president on a platform of two Americas, one rich and one poor? Former Presidential contender Ben Carson has offered a variation on that theme: two Donald Trumps, one bombastic and one thoughtful.

Last week, Carson endorsed Trump’s run for the presidency, throwing his weight behind the billionaire’s rise to the Republican nomination. In his endorsement speech, Carson said, “There are two different Donald Trumps. There’s the one you see on the stage, and there’s the one who is very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully, you can have a very good conversation with him.” Carson was also insistent that the country would soon start to see more of this other side of Trump.

It’s a great theory, but one that is very much untrue.

After the insults that Trump hurled at him during the campaign, Carson’s support for him is a bit surprising. Perhaps he’s angling for a role in a potential Trump administration or perhaps he’s just not ready to step out of the limelight now that his campaign is over. Maybe he saw an opportunity for the front-runner to carry his ideas forward– according to The Hill, Trump said Carson will have a “big part” in his campaign.

Whatever the reason, Carson’s message appears to be part of a new strategy on Trump’s part to combat criticism that he’s not serious, thoughtful or of the right temperament to be president. The event with Carson came on the heels of a Republican debate that some described as “subdued” and Trump’s performance during it as “measured” and “restrained.”

It’s useful for Trump that he’s finally realized he has an image problem. It’s interesting that his campaign may be acknowledging that even if its current tactics propel Trump forward to the nomination, they won’t play well in the general election.

But the two Donald Trumps message is just smoke and mirrors. There aren’t two different versions of Trump. For those who take the leadership of the country seriously, running for president is an awesome opportunity and a serious business. If the cerebral side of Trump existed, we would have seen it before now because that is what making your case to be leader of the free world demands.

If there were two Donald Trumps, he wouldn’t have based his campaign on racist rhetoric and vague policy proposals. If there were two Donald Trumps, his campaign events wouldn’t inspire protest and violence. If there were two Donald Trumps, his ascendance wouldn’t be threatening to divide the party he’s called his own. There truly only is one Donald Trump, and he’s the one we’ve been seeing all along. He’s the one that should never be president.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Government Relations Consultant with Prime Policy Group; Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, March 14, 2016

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Ben Carson, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Leading Around The Campfire”: Walker Points To Boy Scouts As Preparation For The White House

Just a month ago, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was asked how he’d confront terrorist threats as president. The Republican governor quickly turned to his political fights against union members in his home state. “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker said.

The governor took some heat for seemingly comparing union members to ISIS, which missed the point, and wasn’t even true. What mattered about the response is that, in Walker’s mind, union-busting in Wisconsin was preparation for combating ISIS and global terrorism.

The ridiculousness of the governor’s answer raised concerns among powerful Republican players – if this is his response to an obvious question in the midst of crises abroad, Walker may not have a mature understanding of what international leadership requires.

His answer to a similar question this week won’t help matters. The Capital Times in Madison reports today:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout as a teen, has taken that motto seriously. His Eagle Scout status has him so prepared, he indicated this week, he’s ready to serve as commander in chief of the U.S. military.

Uh oh.

The issue came up at a Chamber of Commerce event in Arizona this week, where Hugh Hewitt asked the governor, “Does the prospect of being commander in chief daunt you? Because the world that you describe when you’re talking about safety is going to require a commitment to American men and women abroad, obviously at some point. How do you think about that?”

Walker replied, “That’s an appropriate question.” And things went downhill from there.

The video is online here, and I’d encourage folks to check it out to fully appreciate the tone and context, but asked about the challenge of the presidency and national security, Walker didn’t talk about union-busting, but he did draw a parallel between the responsibilities of the Commander in Chief and being an Eagle Scout. From the Capital Times report:

“As a kid, I was in Scouts. And one of the things I’m proudest of when I was in Scouts is I earned the rank of Eagle,” Walker said. “Being an Eagle Scout is one of the few things you get as a kid that, you are not the past, it’s something you are.”

The governor said whenever he attends an Eagle Scout ceremony, he tells the young man being honored that he’s not there to congratulate him, but to issue a charge – that once a Scout obtains the Eagle ranking, he is responsible for living up to that calling for the rest of his life.

He then drew from his Eagle Scout experience discussing his military philosophy. “America is an exceptional country,” Walker said. “And I think, unfortunately, sometimes there are many in Washington who think those of us who believe we are exceptional means we are superior, that we’re better than others in the world.

“And to me, much like my thought process of being an Eagle Scout is, no, being an exceptional country means we have a higher responsibility … not just to care for ourselves and our own interests, but to lead in the world, to ensure that all freedom-loving people have the capacity, who yearn for that freedom, to have that freedom.”

On a structural level, governors running for president have built-in advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, they’ve (hopefully) demonstrated an ability to competently oversee an executive branch, which should be excellent preparation for the White House. On the other hand, governors generally have very little experience with federal, international, and military policymaking, which can be a disadvantage.

This isn’t unique to Walker or anyone else; it’s just the nature of the office and its duties. It’s up to governors, in general, to make the case that their state-based leadership and good judgment prepares them for national office. The public has frequently been receptive to the message – of the six most recent U.S. presidents, four have been governors (two Democrats, two Republicans).

None of them ever suggested union-busting and the Boy Scouts were preparation for the White House.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 27, 2015

March 28, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, National Security, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Swagger: Osama bin Laden’s Killing Vindicates Obama’s Approach

It was a very different Barack Obama who stood in the White House  late Sunday to deliver the astounding and satisfying news that Osama bin Laden  was dead. Or was it?

Obama was derided  during the 2008 presidential campaign for saying he would be willing to go into  Pakistan unilaterally to nab the hateful and hated leader of al Qaeda. The idea  was naïve at best, diplomatically disastrous at worst, his opponents said.  Obama’s calm tones, lack of swagger, and professed desire to repair  relationships with the rest of the world—the Muslim world, in particular—were used as a weapon to portray him as weak, someone who would not possess the  cool-headedness to destroy the most cold hearted of mass murderers. And yet,  Obama, with the able help of U.S. intelligence and military minds and bodies,  pulled it off brilliantly, and in a manner entirely keeping with the personage  he offered during the campaign.

For most of us,  the mere fact of bin Laden’s death would be enough. But the way the operation  unfolded was virtually perfect: bin Laden was hunted down by U.S. forces and shot  in the head—not killed in an air strike or explosion, but in a manner in  which we can presume that bin Laden, in his final moments, knew that it was  American troops who would personally take his life. No U.S. troops were killed,  and civilian casualties (except, possibly, for the unidentified woman bin Laden  used as a human shield) avoided. His body was identified by DNA, preemptively  silencing any “deathers” who would circulate rumors that it was all just a  public relations stunt and a lie. Bin Laden’s body was disposed of at sea—to avert the need to find a country willing to bury him, and to avoid having  his grave site used as a rallying spot for al Qaeda operatives and  sympathizers. He was buried quickly, in Muslim tradition, averting criticism  that the United States was being insensitive to the religion. Pakistan, which  Obama said cooperated in the mission, but which apparently did not know the details  of it until it was done, has not accused the United States of any invasion of  sovereignty.

In his White  House address, the serious-faced president avoided showing any glee over bin  Laden’s death, although he surely was as happy about it as the rest of America.  Nor did he take a cheap political victory lap, declaring “mission  accomplished” against terrorism; in fact, the president rightly warned, the  nation needs to be on alert for any retaliatory attacks. He reiterated that the  United States is not at war with Islam, but with terrorism. There was no comment, implicit  or otherwise, that he had managed to achieve what former President Bush had  failed to do—to get bin Laden. Obama had the good manners to call Bush  personally to tell him of the feat, and Bush responded in his statement with  grace.

Obama lacks  Bush’s aggressive style and provocative rhetoric. That does not mean he is weak  or was less determined to get bin Laden. And while the president had not  mentioned bin Laden much in public recently, that does not mean the  administration wasn’t working on it. Similarly, while the Bush administration  did not manage to kill or capture bin Laden, we have no way of knowing how many  major attacks the previous administration defused.

Obama on Sunday  night might have shown some of his critics a side they didn’t think existed,  that of a determined commander in chief. But that was exactly the approach  Obama presented during the campaign. It was just that his opponents didn’t  think he could pull it off. He did—and the fact that Obama is not hanging a  “Mission Accomplished” banner across the East Room makes the feat even more  impressive.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, May 2, 2011

May 2, 2011 Posted by | 911, Foreign Policy, Ground Zero, Homeland Security, Islam, Justice, Muslims, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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