By Gail Collins – The New York Times.
Wow, Donald Trump can’t even give a commencement speech to the military without making it all about him.
“Now I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice. Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair. You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve,” the president warned as he was addressing the Coast Guard Academy graduating class Wednesday.
How many of you think Trump was envisioning an unjustly embattled seaman?
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” he went on. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
We will pause now to recall that Abraham Lincoln was accused of everything from drunkenness to treason to being a “fungus from the corrupt womb of bigotry and fanaticism” before being assassinated. You’d think Trump would remember that, since he seems to regard himself as an expert on Lincoln. (“Most people don’t even know he was a Republican,” he informed a fund-raising dinner recently.)
But no, nobody has been persecuted as much as Donald Trump, despite all he’s done for us.
The president also took time out from extolling the Coast Guard’s service to run through the “tremendous amount” his administration has already accomplished. “We’ve saved the Second Amendment,” he bragged. This was presumably his successful fight to make sure that people who are so mentally disturbed they can’t handle their own Social Security benefits still are guaranteed the right to purchase lethal weapons.
But the topic of the day at the Coast Guard Academy was protecting America. And since nobody — particularly Trump — can talk about anything except Trump, let’s look at what the president has done recently to assure our security.
Right now we have no head of the F.B.I. Most of the U.S. attorney offices — the nerve center of America’s war on terrorism and corruption — are without leaders. In March Trump demanded the Obama-era federal prosecutors leave immediately, and he has not nominated a single replacement.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, says she was assured by White House officials that “the transition would be done in an orderly fashion to preserve continuity.”
“Clearly, this is not the case,” Feinstein understated.
Meanwhile National Security Adviser Mike Flynn turned out to be a mess on many fronts, and was fired for lying. His successor, H. R. McMaster, came into the job with a stellar military background and then quickly became an embarrassment. He’s just another spokesman trying to cover up the president’s messes with carefully worded statements, only to be contradicted by a Trumpian tweet.
Americans keep asking themselves why there isn’t anyone in the administration trying to guide the president away from his endless verbal errors, but as Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman reported in The Times, McMaster has indeed tried. The president, in gratitude, refers to him as “a pain.”
Anyway, Trump misses getting national security advice from Mike Flynn. Who was secretly taking large payments for representing the interests of Turkey while he was a part of Trump’s campaign, and also had a very questionable and profitable relationship with Russia.
“He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump told now-departed F.B.I. director James Comey. Have you ever seen a greater judge of character? People, do not take a job in the Trump administration, even if he offers you secretary of vacations. The very fact that he likes you will make everybody else distrust you.
Also on the top of the Trump food chain when it comes to protecting our security: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a right-wing former senator whose greatest achievement so far has been to return the federal criminal justice system to a brain-dead policy of imposing long mandatory sentences on people convicted of nonviolent drug crimes.
Since Sessions recused himself from any investigations relating to Russia and the Trump campaign — a topic that currently covers virtually everything — a lot of the burden was falling on his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who has been on the job for three weeks. Rosenstein, the ultimate example of that Trump employment rule, was quickly telling people he didn’t really care about his personal reputation.
On the plus side, Rosenstein has appointed a special counsel to look into … the stuff. That’s Robert Mueller, a very serious choice, who was in fact the last F.B.I. director not to be fired by Donald Trump.
And today we’ve got a new crew of Coast Guard ensigns, ready to serve. If only we had a president half as useful.