Credit Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, for momentarily snapping us out of it. On Sunday evening, after a Twitter feud with Trump, Corker gave an interview to The New York Times in which he said publicly what Republican officeholders usually say only privately. Trump, Corker told the reporters Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler, is treating the presidency like “a reality show” and could be setting the nation “on the path to World War III.”
Corker has come out publicly and said what most sentient people already knew. But by raising the “path to World War III,” he raised the specter of Donald Trump with his finger on the nukes. Much as I hesitate to use the word that’s been reduced to a level of triteness challenged only by “rape,” this is horrifying. But then, Trump is the president. We elected an incompetent, irrational, probably mentally-unstable narcissist president, and the nuclear code comes with the job.
This is, of course, a problem of monumental proportions. And as with all such problems, there is a solution that is simple, clear and totally wrong. Goldberg cries that Corker’s admissions aren’t good enough, and that he and the Republicans in Congress must now act upon his statements by neutering Trump.
They could start with a pair of bills introduced by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and California Representative Ted Lieu, both Democrats, prohibiting the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a congressional declaration of war. So far, the only Republican to sign on in either chamber is Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina. But given how little faith Senate Republicans have in Trump’s judgment, they have a duty to take up this legislation or develop an alternative.
Nowhere does Goldberg mention why the president has the authority to launch nukes. The concept of “mutually assured destruction” is what, at least theoretically, prevents the end of times. If a foreign nation launches nukes, we launch nukes. The world is destroyed. Them, us, everybody. Boom.
The only idea worse than letting Trump push the button is announcing to Kim Jung-Un that if he fires his nukes, the United States will then call an emergency session of Congress so that all our elected representatives will die in a fiery apocalypse on their way to the Capitol to debate whether war should be declared. Brilliant.
Should the button be left to the discretion of one person? That was always a problem, although it’s a million times more of a problem when the button-pusher is an incompetent, irrational clown. Despite Trump’s impetuous pushing of the button that says “tweet,” he has yet to push the button to take out North Korea. But should his shorter, better-looking counterpart consider whether he can push his nuke button and get away with it, there’s a fair to middling chance he will. That can’t happen either.
Mutually assured destruction means it’s mutual. That’s what makes it work. To suggest otherwise is kinda nuts, and certainly not very smart. Welcome to punditry, Ms. Goldberg.