Grads get ad­vice from per­se­cuted pres­i­dent

The Columbus Dispatch - - Opinion/forum - GAIL COLLINS Gail Collins writes for 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 fundrais­ing 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 FBI. 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.

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.

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 FBI 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.

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