I’m still trying to catch my breath over the news of how Donald J. Trump has revamped his — I mean our — National Security Council.
He has rolled back the emphasis of two key players: the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence.
These two individuals no longer will take part in what is called the “principals committee,” the panel that meets regularly with the president to assess national security threats and to deliver critical advice on how to handle those threats.
Who, though, is going to sit in? Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart.com — the right-wing website that has for some time spewed white nationalist rhetoric.
Steve “Bleeping” Bannon! This guy has taken a job as senior adviser to the president. He became the chairman of the campaign that resulted in Trump’s election.
His national security chops? His expertise on how to fight the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram? What knowledge does this guy bring to developing a strategy to rein in Kim Jong Un, or the ayatollahs who run Iran?
As near as I can tell, Bannon is unqualified to sit on the principals committee. He is no more suited to have access to the nation’s top security secrets than, oh, I am.
I keep wondering whether Bannon is going to advise the president in purely political terms about national security strategy. Aren’t these issues above and beyond partisan political concerns?
Trump’s unconventional presidency keeps taking strange and bizarre turns. The very idea that he would kick the Joint Chiefs chairman and the DNI to the curb — to make room for the likes of a political hack — is, as former national security adviser Susan Rice described it, “stone cold crazy.”