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The Only Plausible Choice For Commander-In-Chief

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is introduced during a campaign stop Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Rochester, N.H. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is introduced during a campaign stop Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Rochester, N.H. (Matt Rourke/AP)
This article is more than 4 years old.

The good news for Donald Trump is that he revealed his unfitness to be commander-in-chief less during Monday’s record-viewership debate than during the next day.

The bad news is he lost the “securing America” segment of the debate as well.

On Tuesday, apparently smarting over being bested, Trump demonstrated what a public nervous breakdown looks like, whining about unfair questions, repeating sexist comments about a beauty pageant contestant that had tripped him up at the debate, and mouthing conspiracy theories about sabotage of his debate microphone. By now, only the dimmest Trump supporters are denying the obvious: If a 90-minute encounter with Hillary Clinton unhinges him, how would the self-described great dealmaker fare when confronting dictators and terrorists as president?

... If a 90-minute encounter with Hillary Clinton unhinges him, how would the self-described great dealmaker fare when confronting dictators and terrorists as president?

Poor Donald was reduced to touting unscientific, online surveys that he’d won the debate, contradicting the consensus of more rigorous, professional polls.

No wonder. At the debate, Trump puked predictable pablum about what a “horrible deal” the Iranian nuclear agreement was, how he couldn’t reveal his plan to pulverize the Islamic State, and how Vladimir Putin gives him the warm fuzzies.

Fact-check: Iran, barreling towards a nuke before the deal, is to all appearances complying with its commitments under the agreement. Trump’s stated reason for keeping his anti-ISIS plan hush-hush — you don’t telegraph your strategy to the enemy — somehow got by all the other presidential candidates in both parties, including those versed in defense matters, who weren’t afraid to discuss their own plans.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd at the Republican National Convention, July 2016. (John Locher/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd at the Republican National Convention, July 2016. (John Locher/AP)

And you can acknowledge that we and Russia share vital interests without gushing that the thuggish Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama, who must abide by the Constitution. Had Clinton said that of a Republican president, GOP flunkies would have lined up to call her irresponsible; had she suggested that the Russians hack Trump’s emails, as he suggested they do to hers, his supporters would have branded her a traitor.

Trump’s only valid criticisms of Clinton in the debate targeted her flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, her admitted mistake in using private email as secretary of state, and her acquiescence in the toppling of Libya’s dictatorship, only to watch that country become a chaotic conveyor belt cranking out jihadists. President Obama admitted that being caught flat-footed in the aftermath of the coup was his worst mistake as president; Clinton, given the chance to make a mea culpa during the primaries, declined.

Those are fair game but hardly disqualifying in the way Trump’s behavior is. For her part, the Democrat sensibly defended the Iran deal, maintaining good relations with the majority of Muslims who want to defeat jihadists, and the need for America to keep its commitments, Trump’s allegiance to which he has called into question.

All things considered, it’s clear Trump hasn’t the knowledge and temperament to be allowed within a mile of the nuclear button.

All things considered, it’s clear Trump hasn’t the knowledge and temperament to be allowed within a mile of the nuclear button. That’s why 50 Republican national security officials publicly pronounced their refusal to vote for Trump, saying he “lacks the character, values and experience” for the White House.

Not all Republicans have bailed on the billionaire. He can boast of last week’s belated backing from Ted Cruz, who loitered unexpectedly on the moral high ground this summer by withholding his blessing. (“I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”) But a wife and father aren’t, you know, that big a deal when your party’s turning the screws on you to support its nominee. As for foreign policy cred, Cruz has been outspoken about ISIS where Trump is mute, having called for “carpet-bombing” the terrorist group, a plan both unworkable and illegal because of the inevitable civilian slaughter.

Trump similarly disdains the decencies of foreign relations. This is the man who said we should have ripped off Iraq’s oil supplies — another illegality -- on our way out the exit door: the commander-in-chief as international shoplifter. Securing America indeed.

Related:

Rich Barlow Cognoscenti contributor
Rich Barlow writes for BU Today, Boston University's news website.

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