One high-level administration official thinks there's nothing wrong with a request to hide a warship for Trump. Another has vowed not to investigate the incident.
Trump's ego is so fragile that when he was in Japan for a state visit, the Navy was told to hide the U.S.S. McCain so Trump wouldn't have to see the name of a senator he didn't like. As the administration tries to explain it away, the incident just sounds worse.
Trump himself can't seem to keep his story straight as to what happened. First, he said he hadn't been informed of anything, while at the same time praising those that made the request as "well-meaning." Then Trump switched gears and tweeted that the whole thing was fake news.
That last bit was undermined when, on Saturday, the Navy confirmed that, yes, there was a request to "minimize the visibility" of the ship during Trump's visit. Moreover, the White House Military Office "coordinated directly" with the Navy's Seventh Fleet about hiding the ship.
Then on Sunday, chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went on "Meet the Press" and told Chuck Todd that he "absolutely believe[d]" someone on the White House advance team made the request for the ship to be out of sight. He then explained it wasn't "an unreasonable thing to ask" that an entire warship be moved so as not to offend Trump.
Mulvaney also tried to compare Trump's petulant hatred of McCain to a hypothetical fellow employee of Chuck Todd's.
If you're going to a staff meeting and say, "Look, Chuck is fighting with so-and-so. Let's not sit them together today at the meeting." Is that a fireable offense at NBC?
Chuck Todd pointed out that hadn't happened, while the hiding of the U.S.S. McCain had. Then there's the fact that asking that two fighting employees not be seated near one another is nothing like asking that an entire warship be moved or hidden.
Todd missed a more critical point, though: The president of the United States should not be so thin-skinned and volatile that the mere mention of a deceased senator's name would send him in a tailspin.
Don't look to the Department of Defense or the administration to provide any further clarity as to what happened. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he won't order an independent review of what happened. At the same time, he declared that he wanted to reaffirm "that the Department of Defense will not be politicized."
One way to ensure the DOD isn't politicized is to investigate incidents where it was politicized, but that logic seems to escape Shanahan.
With everything oriented around ensuring an erratic and angry Trump never gets exposed to anything he doesn't like, and with everyone taking a different tack, it's no wonder the administration can't figure out how to make this story go away.
Published with permission of the American Independent.