June 5, 2020

New Day's John Avlon with another really good Reality Check segment:

"General James Mattis dropped a bombshell this week saying, 'Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people, doesn't even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We're witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.'

"Now, the tipping point was apparently Trump's autocratic stunt of violently dispersing a peaceful protest for a photo-op with a Bible as a prop. It sparked an unusual firestorm of dissent with respective military and national security figures who've been trained to remain silent on political matters. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey wrote on Twitter, 'America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy.' Bush and Obama-era chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen wrote, 'Whatever Trump's goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country.' Retired Marine General John Allen said, 'Trump's threats of military force may be the beginning of the end of the American experiment. Former CIA analyst Gail Helt told the Washington Post, 'This is what autocrats do.'

"This is not partisan bluster. This is the sound of lifelong patriots warning that this president's autocratic impulses are a threat to the republic. It's notable because the military is typically sympathetic to Republican presidents, with military veterans voting by a 2 to 1 margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Despite dodging the Vietnam era with bone spurs, Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to claim he's the most militaristic person to occupy the presidency.

I'm a very militaristic person.
I am the most militaristic person.

"There's always a reflexive impulse on the right to demonize Donald Trump's detractors, often led by the president himself. But his attack on Mattis quickly got pushback from Trump's own former chief of staff, General John Kelly. In fact, many of Donald Trump's former cabinet members have painted a consistent portrait of someone who has been out of control and over his head since Day One, including Kelly, John Bolton, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who gave this assessment.

A man who's pretty undisciplined, doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get into the details of a lot of things. I have to say to him, Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but you can't do it that way. It violates the law.

"Crowing about owning the libs kind of loses its luster when it's directed at former Trump cabinet members -- because those folks know the president far better than the fan fiction his hardcore supporters have raised. Our country is in crisis. When so many respected members of the military warn us about the danger to our democracy, it's an urgent reminder that the phony tough fealty to hyper partisan politics is small, compared to the broader responsibility we all have to defend our democratic republic.

"As Mattis said, we can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown. But we owe it to our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise, and to our children.

"And that's your reality check."

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