The the partial shutdown of the federal government now guaranteed to continue over the New Year holiday weekend, the standoff with president Donald Trump becomes first priority as the new Congress convenes late next week with a new party in control of the House of Representatives.
“If they can’t do it before January 3, then we will do it,” says Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., incoming chairman of the Rules Committee. “We’re going to do the responsible thing. We’re going to behave like adults and do our job.”
Trump admitted the standoff is all about him in a tweet Thursday.
“This isn’t about the Wall,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “This is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win.” He added Democrats may be able to block him now, “but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”
Trump couldn’t even leave politics at the door during his unannounced trips to Iraq and Germany to visit troops.
His series of partisan attacks in comments to soldiers ignored the traditional norms of a presidential visit to troops in far away places and in war zones and angered military leaders.
“As long as the message from the president is how wonderful it is that they are doing a service for the country, that’s great,” Charles Blanchard, a former general counsel for the Army and the Air Force told The Washington Post. “But when it turns into a political rally, what do people see? They see enthusiastic soldiers clapping and yelling for a partisan message.”
Armed Forces leaders say Trump “erodes public faith in a military” that enjoys 74 percent of American confidence according to a 2018 Gallup poll.
They say the military earns that trust by steering clear of politics, which is why it is the most trusted government institution by Americans.
“Lyndon Johnson went to Vietnam and visited the troops,” presidential historian Robert Dallek says. “Did he attack the Republicans? Did he attack his Democratic critics? No. It’s inappropriate. But, once again, what you have with Trump is someone who bends the rules and violates the norms in order to make himself look special or exceptional.”
Rosa Brooks, law professor and national security expert at Georgetown University, says it is important that the incredible power of America’s military is not “being used for partisan ends.”
“We have the line because we don’t want to turn into a banana republic,” she said, adding Trump’s comments to troops on a foreign base “uses an address to military personnel as a partisan opportunity.”
In Iraq, Trump attacked House Minority Leader, and expected new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and said “we have a problem with the Democrats because Nancy Pelosi is calling the shows.” Then he questions the chain of command of forces in Iraq, saying the officers were wrong and promised “we’re doing it a different way.”
Soldiers brought Trump campaign hats, an officer displayed a Trump campaign banner and other political signs at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and lined up to have Trump autograph the hats.
Defense Department Directive 1344, emphasized in training of military personnel, prohibits active-duty members of the military from participating in political rallies, giving the appearance of endorsing a candidate or displaying partisan political posters, banners or signs.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in an article for Joint Force Quarterly in 2016, said the military must “protect the integrity and political neutrality of our military profession.”
Even Republican political strategists say Trump hurt himself and the nation with his partisan actions in Iraq and Germany,
“He diminished himself and the office by using it as an opportunity to politicize,” said GOP strategist Rick Tyler.
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