While there are a number of alarming things that President-elect Donald Trump has done since winning the electoral vote in November, the scariest thing that he’s done so far, said New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait, is the appointment of Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser.
Chait said that our country is once again about to be in the hands of the party that nearly destroyed the world economy and mired the nation’s military in two costly, ill-defined wars when it was last in charge.
“These disasters occurred because the party’s ideological extremism made it unequipped to make pragmatic choices, and because its chief executive was a mental lightweight,” he wrote. “Sixteen years after it last came to power, the party has grown far more ideologically extreme, and its head of state is much less competent.”
Pointing out that the incoming president is the only president in American history lacking any public experience in either a civilian or military role, Chait said that it’s particularly crucial for Trump to choose a top notch national security adviser.
Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn is not that man, Chait said: “Flynn’s appointment is the one that contains the sum of all fears of Trumpian government.”
“Flynn’s portrait seems to reflect the worst qualities of Dick Cheney, but in exaggerated form,” he said. “Flynn avidly subscribes to conspiracy theories. He believes Islamists have infiltrated the Mexican border en masse, guided along the way by Arabic-language signs Flynn claims to have seen himself. He also believes that Democrats have imposed Sharia law in parts of Florida, and shared a now-deleted tweet that suggested Hillary Clinton could have been involved in child sex trafficking. These claims were frequent enough that his subordinates at the Defense Intelligence Agency gave them a name, ‘Flynn facts,’ which means a Flynn belief that is the opposite of a fact.”
A former Flynn subordinate told the New York Times that Flynn is violently resistant to taking in any information that conflicts with his ideologies and prejudices.
“Mr. Flynn said that the first thing everyone needed to know was that he was always right. His staff would know they were right, he said, when their views melded to his,” the source said.
Flynn has surrounded himself with a claque of vapid sycophants who are loath to challenge him on any subject, meaning his views never meet any resistance. Chait said that he and his top foreign policy advisor, Monica Crowley, are “driven by fervent anti-Islamic terror more than any coherent calculation.”
Crowley — a Fox News talking head — echoes her boss’s habit of promoting wild and verifiably false conspiracy theories on social media. Crowley views herself as being on a “holy war” against Islam and says that ultimately, the U.S. must be unafraid to violate our own Constitution to defeat Islam.
“This is essentially the Constitution versus the Quran on every level. The Constitution is not built to fight this war,” she said in 2015.
However, Chait said, the most alarming member of Flynn’s team is his own son, Mike Flynn Jr., also an avid social media user prone to conspiracies and expressions of thinly-veiled racism.
Flynn Jr. “promoted the conspiracy theory that a Washington pizzeria had a secret back room with child sex slaves that was somehow connected to Hillary Clinton. When a gunman showed up there trying to liberate the imagined slaves, the ensuing publicity forced Trump’s transition team to remove Flynn Jr. from his official role on the transition team. But there’s no evidence his deep influence on his father has abated.”
“It is almost impossible to overstate the danger to American national security posed by the combination of Flynn and his staff,” Chait said.
“(I)t is the specific, mutually reinforcing characteristics of Flynn and his staff that invite the most alarm,” Chait concluded. “He is a conspiracy theorist averse to any challenge to his suspicions, surrounding himself with a staff of fellow conspiracy theorists seemingly designed to shut out any challenge to his biases, providing advice to a novice president who is himself a conspiracy theorist. It’s under-informed, overconfident crackpots all the way down. As a comedic script, it would defy plausibility. Except there’s a terrifying chance that a lot of innocent people will die as a result.”