I’m no rhetorical expert but..

President Trump often uses what I call “cover your ass” rhetoric when he states what he views as a fact but leaves himself an out if he’s proven wrong. For example, “I’m no doctor…but…it may work, it may not.” He says this in connection with a laboratory-untested drug that some (including Trump) think could be a “game changer” in the coronavirus pandemic.

What a great rhetorical gimmick! Thought I’d give it a go.

I’m no judge) but…I think what’s going on in Wisconsin is a farce. The (Republican-appointed majority) U.S. Supreme Court last night ruled, on a “party line” vote, that the Wisconsin primary should go on today, with voters coming to the polls to vote. The (Democratic) governor had ordered that with the pandemic, the voting by mail deadline should be extended so people didn’t have to gather at the polls. Clearly it is more likely that going to a poll would expose you to the virus and would violate the physical distancing guidance and the even more implicit counsel from Dr. Tony Fauchi and Dr. Deborah Brix that you shouldn’t leave your home even for groceries for the next two weeks.

So, a Wisconsin voter is left with the choice: Do I stay home and protect myself and others from a potential exposure to the virus or do I exercise my right to vote the only way the courts will allow? I know which way I’d decide. Now the Democratic presidential primary ballot is less important to me (no matter who wins, former Vice President Joe Biden is all but assured the nomination) but there also is a vote for the Wisconsin Supreme Court with a conservative judge versus a more progressive candidate. President Trump this morning re-upped his endorsement of the (Republican) candidate for the court.

I’m no President but if I were in his chair, I would have tweeted instead that the court was endangering the lives of thousands of Wisconsin voters especially since Wisconsin could be a deciding state in the November elections. With deaths mounting daily from the virus, I’d be on the side of protecting citizens from the virus than making a political move.

I’ve never been in the Navy but…I think the Acting Navy Secretary relieving the captain of the U.S. Teddy Roosevelt for demanding the sailors on his ship be protected from the coronavirus; which had broken out among the men and women, is a bad decision.

Now, I know Navy veterans will argue that the captain was wrong in going around the command structure and that relieving him of duty doesn’t affect his pay, pension, rank or other things but seems to me there were other ways to work this out without him being fired which allowed him to walk the plank (figuratively) and be enthusiastically cheered by his crew as he left his command. The Acting Navy Secretary later talked to the Roosevelt crew saying the captain was out of line for his actions and was either “stupid or naive.” The Acting Secretary told the Washington Post that he “fired” the captain before Trump ordered him fired (that wasn’t threatened but the Acting Secretary presumed that would be the case). He later apologized saying he didn’t think the captain was stupid or naive.

I’m no Acting Navy Secretary but seems to me the captain was carrying out one of his primary duties — protecting his sailors — and didn’t deserve the public embarrassment and there must have been a more judicious way to make his point.

I’m not the President but…firing the Inspector General who passed to Congress the whistleblower’s letter claiming Trump strong-armed the Ukranian president for help in Trump’s reelection, was wrong. Yes, it is in within the President’s rights to fire the guy. But Trump said he fired him because he “lost confidence” in him. Trump didn’t like and never liked the IG passing along the letter, which he was bound by law to do. That’s the loss in confidence — the IG didn’t protect the President and bury the letter. The IG, Michael Atkinson, Trump complained, also never came to talk to the President before he sent the letter to the Congress.

I’m not the President, but seems to me Atkinson did exactly his job. And it isn’t required (nor ethically wise, in my view) for the IG to go to the accused to talk to see if he agrees with the whistleblower. As required, the IG deemed the letter had sufficient foundation for it to be passed to Congress, under the law.

I’m not the President but seems me the IG did his job. He didn’t assess the President guilty or not guilty. He assessed the letter as having sufficient foundation to fall under the law and send it to Congress for review and possible action. The letter, of course, led to Trump being impeached not that that had anything to do with Trump’s “loss of confidence.”

I’m (still) not the President but… I’m guessing the Department of Health and Human Service IG did not act for political purposes when she corroborated projections from governors about dramatic shortages of medical supplies in the coronavirus pandemic. Apparently because Trump took the report to be a criticism of him, he called “politics.” The author of the report was appointed by President Clinton. This belittles a very important government position, again, in inspectors general who are the public’s protection against government misconduct. One more institution Trump has torn down to build himself up. I’d also be watching out for further action by the President. Just sayin’.

I’m (still) not the President and he has the right to say what he wants but to claim politics in this situation is ridiculous. Facts are facts.

There is a common theme in most of these items. When I served in the government as a political appointee I, and my colleagues, knew we served “at the pleasure” of the President and could be removed anytime basically for any reason.

This President doesn’t look at his appointees serving “at the pleasure” of the President but “for the pleasure” of the President.

Written by

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.

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