BY VERN TURNER
The president, when inaugurated, must take the following oath of office administered by the chief justice of the Supreme Court according to Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution:
I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God.
Journalists, psychologists, physicians, politicians and past presidents have issued warnings to the public and to anyone that will listen or read: This president is not mentally fit or prepared to perform the duties required by that office, especially with regard to our military action up to and including the use of nuclear weapons.
This president, in fits of jealousy and pique, is undoing treaties and commitments that are designed to keep foreign adversaries from developing nuclear weapons of their own as well as trying to keep conversations about peace on the table.
President Trump’s bellicosity is striking fear and suspicion into the hearts of our allies as well as those adversaries, most notably North Korea. The current fiasco regarding “negotiations” with North Korea is typical of someone who is wayout of his depth in foreign affairs.
The oath each serviceman and woman takes is thus:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
This oath is supposed to be sacrosanct to everything else and is notan unconditional commitment to perform illegal acts at the behest of a commander up to and including the president of the United States.
The following paragraph defines when a soldier can defy orders that he/she deems to be illegal, unconstitutional or immoral:
U.S. military law requires obedience only to lawful orders. Disobedience to unlawful orders [see Superior orders] is the obligation of every member of the U.S. military, a principle established by the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials following World War II and reaffirmed in the aftermath of the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. However, a U.S. soldier who disobeys an order after deeming it unlawful will almost certainly be court-martialed to determine whether the disobedience was proper. In addition, simple refusal to obey is not mutiny, which requires collaboration or conspiracy to disobedience.
The point being that the last bastion of protection of our Constitution being ravaged by a deranged, tyrant lies with our dedicated military personnel. As in the fictitious, but believable The Caine Mutiny, we read and saw professional sailors fearing for their lives and their ship from the actions of a paranoid, incompetent leader. The psychological details of Captain Queeg are classics in viewing the pathology of such a personality.
So, looking at the presidential oath, we see the phrase “to the best of my ability.” What if that president has no ability, as the current president seems to lack? Since when did bullying, bluster, personal attacks and completely ignoring the Constitution [indeed calling the First Amendment a hindrance], become “ability”?
The current suite of behaviors emanating from the White House seem more aligned with the definitions for lack of ability. OK, we’ve been thrashing that for months. It’s clear to all but his staff and close family, that Donald Trump lacks even a modicum of ability to serve as president of the United States. Even experienced members of Congress agree, openly, that Donald Trump is unfit for the office.
I guess that First Amendment really is a bother to those who can’t stand being questioned about their mistakes or those of their superiors. This situation involving military representatives at the seat of power, and a defiant propaganda arm, smacks so much of the emerging Nazi Party in Germany during its infancy in 1933. History shows us that the Nazis, like all dictatorships denigrated the free press, then took control of it with its own “messaging department.” Here, today, Fox News serves that same purpose for the Trump administration as Goebbels’ outlets served Hitler. Fox performs their duty shamelessly as masters of distortion and falsehoods. Hitler also called the free press “fake news” in his own lexicon.
Trump runs roughshod over the truth and the few laws he understands, also smack of the Reichstag Hitler inherited, then bullied into submission after he appointed himself as the rule of all German law. Our Republicans in Congress are silent about all the weird stuff going on, like the Chad/Niger situation, and the Russian collusion investigation, and the stink of money laundering by the Trump family, or the obviousness of the obstruction of justice with the firing of James Comey. Why is that? It’s because they want their bribery-driven agenda to be signed into law by this president.
What will happen if this president flies off the handle and suspends elections because he thinks the investigations – such as they are – are creating too much heat and might cause him to lose the next election in 2020? What will happen if this president capriciously reaches for the “football” with the intent of creating nuclear holocaust somewhere? Will there be an Operation Valkyrie [a conspiracy of German generals and officers to kill Hitler] as there was in Germany in late 1944? Or will all the soldiers in the administration blindly follow orders because they felt duty-bound to their oath? What if the president is actually impeached and convicted by the Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors – that Congress defines – and refuses to leave office? Who will drag him [kicking and screaming, no doubt] out of the White House? What if the DOJ just lays down and does nothing?
Will there be no true patriot there to do the right thing and prevent the mindless destruction of tens of millions of human lives, tens of millions of other living things and the toxic cloud from Hell that will embrace the Earth for millennia? Will there be a palace coup? Will it be the Caine Mutiny writ large and in non-fiction?
Or will sanity prevail and the potential for global horror, or suspended elections, or a suspended Constitution go glimmering with responsible actions from the Congress and those administering the executive branch?
Time will tell, of course, but the events of these days keep making all rational people worry that we are being governed by irrational people.
On this weekend of remembrance of the brave souls who push up white headstones everywhere they’ve fallen to defend our country and our Constitution must be performed by every true citizen. These men and women have died in wars based on lies as well as wars based on actual threats. Let us remember their sacrifices such that their deaths will not have been in vain.
Many of them died because we made grievous mistakes in policy. Many have died because we were actually attacked or threatened with attack. Mistakes happen. Dumb people get elected to government. Bad, incompetent and reckless people get elected to government too, but we cannot let our Constitution be sullied or destroyed by them … no matter what.
Think kind thoughts for our men and women in uniform this weekend of May 2018. They may very well be our salvation from ourselves.
– Denver resident Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump, is available through Amazon.