Holding my breath, crossing my fingers with Russia
In less than a month Donald Trump will be sworn in as our next president. His loose language and irresponsible behavior are keeping a lot of us up at night.
While the jury is still assembling, the early signs on who he will be as the leader of the "Free World" are not encouraging. I hope he rights the ship and I am rooting he will but hope is waning.
He has selected a Cabinet member who publicly admitted his incapacity to lead a federal department, another who had earlier called for the abolition of the very department he will soon run and yet another will take the helm at the Department of Education that she is singularly unqualified to head – both professionally and by life experience. She, too, is a billionaire and likely never drove near a public school she could avoid or understands the challenges and shortfalls teachers and their students deal with every day.
The top jobs he fills seem to go to the super rich, retired generals, science-deniers, conspiracy-theorists and admirers of Vladimir Putin, the ruthless dictator and former head of the KGB. Since taking over from Boris Yeltsin, Putin has ruled Russia with an iron-fist while illegally amassing a multi-billion-dollar fortune off the backs of the Russian people.
Some speculate that he may be richer than Bill Gates. We all know how Bill Gates made his money and how his genius changed the world, but who has any idea what Putin did? And we all know that Putin would like to retrieve some of those former Soviet states that ran away when the Berlin Wall came down under Ronald Reagan. Honor and restraint are two qualities Putin lacks.
The intelligence community believes that Putin was complicit in hacking our system with the goal of defeating Hillary Clinton, whom he fears, in order to help Donald Trump, whom he doesn’t. Putin is a savvy operative. He must see something he likes, can intimidate or compromise in Trump. The Russian leadership would seize any advantage they could to undercut the United States and cause us harm without a moment of regret. Seems an odd basis for a friendship.
Why would Donald Trump dismiss and disparage the uniform opinion of the entire United States intelligence community (without even asking for a briefing from them during which he could examine their evidence and question their conclusions) that squarely puts the blame for the hacks on Putin and his cyber-thugs?
Even Senate Republicans want an investigation. They understand the seriousness of a foreign power trying to disrupt the free and fair election basis of our democracy.
Hard to get your head around it but obviously, Trump has a reason. None of the possible explanations to the Trump riddle are reassuring and some are downright scary.
Trump has very deliberately, and almost proudly, not taken advantage of daily presidential briefings while he apparently has time for sophomoric tweets about Alex Baldwin, Vanity Fair magazine and Saturday Night Live and finds time to continue his never-ending, hooky-like victory tour.
I’d feel better if he were reading, learning and listening. Being president is a tough enough job for the smart and the curious. It is near impossible for the uninformed and the disengaged.
The world is an ever-more complex place that requires mastery and discipline of those who seek to lead and shape it. Snappy tweets won’t substitute for statesmanship. A subtle understanding of the nuances of foreign policy is needed as never before with all the tinder box challenges of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and the PLO awaiting the new president. False steps will not likely have do-overs and could have disastrous consequences.
I am fearful that the president-elect doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and will seek advice only from those who won’t challenge him if he seeks advice at all. Putin and Beijing are counting on it.
John T. Broderick Jr. is a one-time state judge and the former dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law.