Accountability Trump

Trump’s Legacy as the Mad President Lives On

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Trump is a sore loser. Will we ever see the last of him?

It seems he’ll be with us forever, his legacy revealed by the stories that his former aides tell about what they saw during his four madcap years.

The latest is contained in a story in The New York Times. It seems that the famous xenophobe Stephen Miller cooked up a campaign season plan to close the border by stationing 250,000 troops there. Trump loved the idea. It would show that he’s a tough guy and would achieve his goal of ending immigration on our southern border.

But Defense Secretary Mark Esper shot down the idea. He thought it was “outrageous.” A quarter million troops was “more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War.”

The idea was batted around but Secretary Esper was adamantly opposed. Trump and his minions also considered a proposal to send troops into Mexico to hunt down members of drug cartels, but backed when they became persuaded that it would be considered an act of war to send our military across the border of another country, uninvited.

After a brief but contentious confrontation with Mr. Miller in the Oval Office, Mr. Esper ended consideration of the idea at the Pentagon.

Mr. Trump’s obsession with the southern border was already well known by that time. He had demanded a wall with flesh-piercing spikes, repeatedly mused about a moat filled with alligators, and asked about shooting migrants in the leg as they crossed the border. His aides considered a heat-ray that would make migrants’ skin feel hot.

Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Mr. Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the officials said.

Mr. Trump hesitated only after aides suggested that to most of the world, military raids inside Mexico could look like the United States was committing an act of war against one of its closest allies, which is also its biggest trading partner, the officials said…

But taken together, the ideas under discussion that spring underscore the Trump administration’s view of the armed forces as a tool of the presidency that could be wielded on behalf of Mr. Trump’s domestic political agenda in an election year…

Wiser heads than Trump or Miller recognized how unhinged these proposals were:

If Mr. Trump had gone through with the troop deployment, it would have represented a force two and a half times the size of the 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan at the height of the 20-year war in that country. It would have also dwarfed the American presence in Iraq during the war there: The maximum number of troops in Iraq at any time was about 170,000.

It is unclear how the Defense Department could have managed such a deployment. The U.S. Army has about 481,000 active-duty soldiers, but many are already deployed around the world, as are thousands of Marines, airmen and other troops. Sending 250,000 troops to the border — much of which crosses difficult, undeveloped lands — would also have required an enormous logistical effort to house and feed the troops.

In the original version of this post, i said that Nixon told the press when he resigbed, ”You wont have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Tom Ultican caught my error. Nixon said this when he lost the California governor’s race in 1962.

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