Who really needs daily intelligence briefings? Apparently not the next (gulp) president of the United States. I’ll admit, when I first saw this reported, I assumed that it was fake news. But nope, it was word for word from his own mouth, from this morning’s interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, as reported in the NY Daily News:
“I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don’t need that,” he continued.
“But I do say, ‘If something should change, let us know,'” he said. Trump went on to suggest that it’s not necessary for him to receive the briefings with the daily frequency that past President-elects have had because other key advisers are getting the info.
“In the meantime, my generals are great — are being briefed. And Mike Pence is being briefed, who is, by the way, one of my very good decisions,” Trump said. “And they’re being briefed. And I’m being briefed also. But if they’re going to come in and tell me the exact same thing that they tell me — you know, it doesn’t change, necessarily.”
Wow. There is so much here, it isn’t even funny. “My generals are great, and being briefed.” Is this the workings of a president, or a demagogue, surrounded by “generals,” who are “great”? Forget the fact that we are supposed to have civilian control of the military, this guy is doing the exact opposite. He has named a general as secretary of defense who is colloquially known as “Mad Dog.” His national security advisor is another retired general, Michael Flynn. And now General John Kelly is going to be the Director of Homeland Security. Look, it is not as if former generals haven’t served in cabinet level positions before (witness Gen. Colin Powell), but Trump is surrounding himself with generals, and is satisfied that if they are briefed on issues, he is good.
What is missing here is that there is an incredible value in a president being surrounded by a variety of different people, with different agendas and perspectives. Trump isn’t doing that. Not at all. And by not receiving daily intelligence briefings, by not taking time to personally absorb the myriad of issues that a president faces, he will be unable to critically evaluate the issues, ad the advice he is being given from “his generals.” But don’t worry, “they are great.”
God save us when the first real international crisis occurs after January 20th.