About a month ago, Carlos Gutierrez, Commerce Secretary in the Bush/Cheney administration, announced his rather enthusiastic support for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And while it always comes as something of a surprise when a notable Republican official throws support to a Democratic candidate, there’s a fairly long list of Bush administration officials who are quite eager for Donald Trump to lose.
Indeed, Politico reported overnight that even George H.W. Bush himself has privately said he intends to vote for Clinton over his party’s nominee.
But perhaps the highest profile veteran of the Bush cabinet to raise anti-Trump concerns is former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who stayed on as a member of President Obama’s cabinet, and who wrote a rather striking piece on the 2016 race for the Wall Street Journal.
At least on national security, I believe Mr. Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. He is unqualified and unfit to be commander-in-chief.
And that’s really just the overarching summary of Gates’ concerns. The former Pentagon chief also said Trump is “in a league of his own” when it comes to “credibility problems”; he condemned Trump for being “cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons”; he criticized Trump’s “insults” of service-members and their families; and he lamented the fact that Trump is “willfully ignorant about the rest of the world, about our military and its capabilities, and about government itself.”
The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone. In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints. A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander-in-chief is too great a risk for America.
And while all of this seems quite fair under the circumstances, Trump seemed surprisingly eager to prove Gates right about being thin-skinned and temperamental.
Of course, the Republican nominee could’ve simply ignored Gates’ criticism, but that would have required some sense of restraint. Instead, at a campaign event in Colorado the other day, Trump said Gates is an “absolute clown” and a “mess.” True to form, the GOP nominee added, “I am so much better at what he’s doing than he is.”
But Trump went on to say, “We’re dealing with stupid people. We’re dealing with people like Robert Gates that don’t have a clue and then when they leave office, they criticize everybody. I don’t like critics. I don’t like critics.”
Not quite done, Trump added that Gates is “dopey” – if you’ve ever seen the former Defense Secretary, you know that’s an odd way to describe him – and he “probably has a problem that we don’t know about.”
Consider all of this and imagine how a President Trump would handle routine criticism from the White House.