Want To Be a Presidential Adviser? Keep Your Mouth Shut.
The first meeting held by Lyndon Johnson after he became President in 1963 was a meeting to decide whether to increase our troop commitment in South Viet Nam, an increase requested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At that meeting were all the advisers who constituted the inner circle that JFK had brought to DC in 1961.
The group included the former President of the Ford Foundation, the former Dean of Harvard College, the former CEO of one of America’s biggest corporations and a lifelong and very well regarded member of the foreign policy establishment – a group which JFK always referred to as the ‘best and the brightest.’
When the meeting began, Johnson made it clear that he was in favor of increasing the U.S. military force in Viet Nam. Every one of those experts then quickly agreed with him and the single, worst foreign policy decision ever made by any American President took place. We lost over 60,000 troops, we immolated probably a million peasants in Viet Nam and Cambodia, and the names of two of my schoolmates are inscribed on that fucking memorial wall
I was reminded of this terrible history when I watched yesterday’s session of the Select Committee with testimony from two members of Pence’s staff about how they felt about Trump’s attempt to pressure Pence into sending the electoral college votes back to the states and thus overturning the November results.
This testimony aligns itself with earlier testimony from members of Trump’s staff who claimed they also told the President that what he was saying about election fraud simply wasn’t true. When did the ‘best and the brightest’ from the Trump White House begin telling Trump that the 2020 results didn’t give him grounds for making the argument that the election was stolen from him?
They allegedly began telling Trump that his assault on the 2020 results were bogus in the weeks leading up to the riot on January 6th. Fine. That’s what the Select Committee was authorized to do – investigate the planning that went into the January 6th events. [Thank you, Paula.]
But Trump had been talking about election ‘fraud’ since the beginning of April, 2020 and as the campaign became more intense over the next seven months and Biden maintained his lead both in the national polls and the critical swing states, the entire Trump campaign narrative focused on election fraud and nothing else.
During all those months leading up to the vote, did any member of Trump’s inner circle tell him that what he was saying was full of shit? Nope. Not one. And now they’re all getting up before the Select Committee and congratulating themselves for their honest and forthright arguments made to the nation’s Chief Executive after the vote? Great, just great.
Back in 1963, LBJ knew what he was going to do about Viet Nam no matter what his advisers said. He wasn’t going to be the ‘first American President to lose a war.’ And Donald Trump knew what he was going to do no matter what his advisers said. He wasn’t going to concede the election while he still had millions of unsold MAGA hats, shirts, flags, and bumper stickers sitting around unsold.
That’s right. This country’s first, great Constitutional crisis almost occurred, according to former Federal Circuit Judge Michal Luttig, because we had a guy sitting behind the Resolute Desk who had spent his entire business career building his name as a brand and wasn’t about to just give it up just because a majority of voters in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin didn’t want him sticking around.
Do you really think that Trump’s advisers and Pence’s advisers signed on with those two guys because they believed they would be taken seriously if they didn’t agree with what their bosses wanted them to say?
To their dying day, not one of the ‘best and the brightest’ who helped LBJ send 60,000 American kids to die in the jungles of Southeast Asia ever admitted publicly that maybe, just maybe they did the wrong thing. And I don’t notice one, single Select Committee witness saying that maybe, just maybe he should have opened his mouth before the 2020 votes were counted on November 3rd.
Want to blame drunk Rudy Giuliani for telling Trump to go ahead with his election ‘fraud’ nonsense after the results were in? What about for the six months before the polls closed?
When it came to telling Trump what he wanted to hear, Rudy was hardly the only one.