Donald Trump Started Two Wars He Is Not Equipped to Fight

Attacking institutions built to weather political firestorms is a bad idea

Trump’s war on the intelligence community and the media in one picture. (Credit: Associated Press)

Trump’s war on the intelligence community and the media in one picture. (Credit: Associated Press)

By Bob Cunningham

Donald Trump, in keeping with the tradition of the last Republican president, has started two different wars — neither of which he is truly equipped to fight. In keeping with his own traditions, his wars are all about himself.

As a candidate, as President-elect, and now as Commander-in-Chief, Trump has notoriously attacked both the intelligence community and the media. Often these attacks have been in reaction to mention of his relationship with Russia and its dictator, Vladimir Putin.

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly denied Russian involvement in the hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. He also denied findings that the hacks were done with the goal of helping him win the presidency.

Trump has also compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany and, most recently, to Russia.

You will also notice the phrases “fake news” and “failing New York Times” in the above tweets, two phrases which have become a calling card for Trump as both a candidate and an elected official. He calls any negative story about him or his policies — or any negative poll numbers — “fake news.”

Even objective observers had to know these tactics would eventually backfire. Starting a war with the people who gather the information and those who disseminate the information was never going to end well. It was simply a question of how long was it going to take for the combined forces to leave their first mark on Trump.

The answer: 24 days.

In addition to creating a firestorm for the administration, the story of former NSA director Michael Flynn being forced to step down was a win for both the intelligence community and the media. Intelligence officials discovered the contacts between Flynn and the Russian official and learned he was lying. This was then reported by the press and forced Trump’s hand.

Trump does not like to lose. He does not like to be backed into a corner and he most certainly does not like being perceived as weak. However, in one story, the intelligence community and media did both.

Let it be very clear: this is not to say that was the intention of the intelligence officials or the media. This was in no way a personal attack on Trump or his administration. The information uncovered was a matter of national security and it was absolutely vital that action be taken.

Hurting Trump’s ego and credibility just comes as a bonus for most of the country.

For his part, Trump would have been wise to take a step back and maybe stop poking the bears. However, he couldn’t manage that for even one day and continued to dig himself deeper by once again attacking both the intelligence community and the media.

Trump’s insistence on waging these wars has also led to the release of information that his campaign had extensive and repeated contact with Russian officials during and after the election. The explosive report will likely lead to a bipartisan investigation, as even Republican senators like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Bob Corker are calling for answers.

Should those investigations find any links between Trump and the Russians coordinating in any capacity to help him win the election, it will most certainly result in impeachment. Even a Republican Congress could not ignore such improprieties and would be forced to separate themselves from Trump as quickly as possible.

These stories likely would have come out regardless of how Trump treated the intelligence community or the media. However, they likely would not have come out this quickly and could perhaps have been contained by a few friends on the inside.

Instead, Trump has challenged the credibility of people who did not deserve it. He has motivated them to take action not only to defend the reputation he is trying so desperately to destroy, but to defend their country from a man many are convinced is a traitor.

Despite Trump’s effort to discredit both institutions, the Flynn story proved the intelligence community and media are both still trusted and forces to be reckoned with. If the first month of his administration is any indication, the ultimate proof will be their part in Trump’s fall from the presidency.

Or as Kurt Russell said in Tombstone, “you called down the thunder, well now you got it.”

News // Donald Trump / Government / Media / Politics