I have long been critical of the attacks of President Donald Trump against critics and the media as unpresidential and inimical to our values. This week has another disturbing example of such personal attacks when Trump responded to criticism by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal by calling him a “dog” who was fired by President Barack Obama. Being President of the United States will always come with an abundance of critics but the office comes with a modicum of expected restraint and decorum. Calling former generals (or anyone) “dogs” is clearly well below the expectations of most people in the conduct of a president.
McChrystal is the former top commander in Afghanistan. A West Point graduate, he served in both Iraq wars. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described McChrystal as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met.” He was not without controversy. He was accused of covering up the death of Pat Tillman in a friendly fire incident. He was also fired after making critical remarks about Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials in a Rolling Stone article.
Laura Ingraham’s website Lifezette had a piece entitled “Media Didn’t Like McChrystal Until He Started Bashing Trump.” It raises a valid threshold issue that McChrystal only garnered this level of support when he was criticizing Trump rather than Obama. However, his criticism of Trump’s move to withdraw from Syria and other countries in “basically trad[ing] away the biggest leverage point we have.” That criticism has been shared by a wide range of critics. He does go further in calling Trump “immoral,” though that is also a wide spread characterization.
I can understand Trump responding but I fail to see why it must be in such this fashion, including tweeting the Ingraham posting. However, Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that “‘General’ McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!”
This is not the first time the President has called critics “dogs” or made personal attacks against those who oppose him. It clearly resonates with an element of his base but only drives a wedge deeper between the GOP and independents. I simply fail to understand why the President continues to yield to such impulse on social media. It only heightened the coverage of McChrystal’s remarks and reinforced his criticism. Many citizens believe that a president must represent the values and civility that we try to instill in our children and try follow in our own lives.