In 1979, when I was in 9th grade, I got in trouble on the phone. A group of us had crashed a wedding reception in the church gym where we snuck red Solo cups of beer from the keg. The next morning, desperate as I was for the cool kids to think I was cool, too, I dragged our hallway phone into my bedroom to brag. A girlfriend who’d spent the night got on our kitchen extension and, while I was doling out the details, thought it would be funny to hand my mother the phone.
It was funny, alright. I learned my cool friend wasn’t such a good friend, I got grounded, and I lost phone privileges for a month. Lessons learned.
Forty years and a spate of smart technology later, I’m starting to think the president, much like 14 year-old me, isn’t so smart when it comes to the phone.
Two weeks ago, a whistleblower rang the alarm about Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president—a call the president insists was perfect, even as his own transcript shows him asking for a personal, political favor (an investigation of the Bidens) before releasing military aid—which prompted the House of Representatives to launch an impeachment inquiry.
Then, as if he weren’t in enough trouble, he stood on the White House lawn and told reporters he thought China should investigate the Bidens as well, prompting the following response from Republican Sen. Mitt Romney: “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”
So how did the president spend the first weekend in October? With friends? With family? With his grandchildren or young son?
Of course not. He spent his weekend like he always does, like a lonely teenager, pouting in his room, on the phone, desperately trying to prove he is one of the cool kids.
In a few long-winded tweets, he attacked Sen. Romney, who was pictured spending time with his grandchildren at a pumpkin patch, calling the senator “a pompous ass” and suggesting it is Romney who should be IMPEACHED in all-caps. (Note: there is no such thing as impeaching a senator.)
He then went on ad nauseam, tweet after raging tweet, about how mean Democrats are to him, about whistleblowers and losers and Sleepy Joe.
But he saved his biggest, most dangerous, hurrah for Sunday night, when he reportedly blindsided the Pentagon with a Sunday night phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wherein he promised immediate withdrawal of American security forces from the Syrian border, abandoning the Kurds who have fought beside our troops against terrorism, exposing them to almost-certain slaughter by the Turkey’s military.
The same withdrawal he committed to back in December that prompted the immediate resignation of General James Mattis, his Secretary of Defense. Remember him?
I wonder, where are the pro-lifers at times like this? Maybe our very own Gov. Matt Bevin, Sen. Maj. Leader Mitch McConnell, or Rep. Andy Barr could explain what exactly is pro-life, or even pro-American, about leaving our friends, the Kurds, to die on the battlefield.
As my mother would say, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”
Consider the leaders of the countries he calls friends—Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China, Russia, Turkey—authoritarian regimes with little to no respect for basic human rights. What is his attraction and supplication to these tyrants about? What is in it for him, and for them?
In this latest episode with Erdogan, President Trump’s “chumminess has unsettled both appointed and elected officials suspicious of Mr. Erdogan’s repressive policies, Islamist sympathies and deepening relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” according to the New York Times.
Three years into his presidency, you have to wonder if the president does not understand the national security implications of his phone conversations, the embarrassment that is his Twitter feed, or the dangers of his chosen friends. Or if he simply doesn’t care.
How, I ask, is there not one family member, cabinet appointee, senator or congressman in Washington D.C. who is concerned enough to take away his phone, direct him to better friends, and to keep him out of trouble?
How is there not a single person in the president’s orbit as smart and courageous as the mother of a 14 year-old girl?
Teri Carter is a writer in Lawrenceburg.