Michael Flynn explains to the National Security Council that God didn’t make Rambo.
Those of you who picked “three weeks” in your office pool on the first resignation of the Trump administration are about to get free cupcakes. Retired general Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor last night, approximately seven hours after Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC that he enjoyed the “full confidence” of the White House. Why Flynn retired is unclear. His original mistake was to discuss sanctions in a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States back in December, when he was not yet a federal official. That conversation itself is not the problem; the problem, ostensibly, is that he lied to Mike Pence about it. But the administration has known he lied about it for more than a month. Here’s Conway admitting that while simultaneously claiming that this lie was the straw that broke the camel’s back:
It seems like the real problem is that people are finding out about the lie. But Conway has issued two contradictory statements on this issue in the last 24 hours—three if you consider the resignation a statement, since she was almost certainly involved. Between her, Stephen Miller, and the
shadowy blotchy Steve Bannon, this administration is turning out to be a real field laboratory for students of lying.
Last week, Montana’s sole delegate to the US House, Republican Ryan Zinke, voted to make transfers of federal lands to the states “budget neutral” for accounting purposes. This came as something of a surprise. Zinke has opposed land transfers throughout his career, going so far as to resign his position as a delegate to the Republican convention this summer in protest of support for transfers in the platform. Then, last week, he votes for item numero uno on the land transfer agenda. What gives?
Commander Zinke isn’t telling. He declined requests for interviews from the Indy, Montana Public Radio, and host of other outlets. Instead, his office released a six-word statement: “Ryan Zinke’s position has not changed.” I can think of two possible explanations:
- They actually said “Ryan Zinke’s position is UNCHAINED!” and the reporter hung up before she could hear the cheers and dance music as the congressman pounded a bottle of Goldschlager.
- They meant Zinke’s position in the federal government.
Right now, as I write this, he’s Representative Zinke. But five days from now, the Senate will likely confirm him as Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. At that moment, his position will change substantially. He will move from the legislative branch to the executive, slipping the surly bonds of an electorate that holds land transfers in low regard. Zinke’s position has not yet changed, but in another week or so, he will be in a place where the regards of Montanans matter less. He will be in federal government, which this year will focus on dismantling federal government and selling its assets, cheap.
You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. I’m going to miss Commander Zinke and his tireless portrayal of himself. Unless my man EG-4 shocks the world, Montana’s next representative in Congress will not be such a strong persona. Probably, he or she will not have killed even one person, much less many people in a war. They won’t appear on Fox News as often, if at all. And say what you like about Ryan Zinke’s policies, he doesn’t.
Rep. Ryan Zinke prepares to crack a walnut.
Remember a few days ago, before we were all mad at Donald Trump for implying that someone should shoot Hillary Clinton, when we were all mad at Trump for insulting the parents of a dead Muslim serviceman? At the Democratic National Convention, where Khizr Khan lambasted Trump for his bigoted remarks about Muslims. “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said to the billionaire restorer of American greatness, who missed Vietnam due to bone spurs. It probably would have chastened a normal person, but Trump hit back, suggesting that Khan’s wife, Ghazala, hadn’t spoken during her husband’s speech because Muslim custom forbade her.
These remarks put Montana’s Rep. Ryan Zinke in a bad spot. Zinke is a freshman congressman, and he can’t afford to buck his party too often. On the other hand, the unimpeachable dignity of military service is his whole thing. His political brand is rooted in his identity as a former Navy SEAL, and his personal ethics seem to hold veterans in the highest regard. So he released this statement on his campaign website:
Both of our candidates for president have picked fights with and said extremely regrettable things to the families of service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great nation. As a grateful nation, we cannot allow this to become the norm, and we cannot allow it to go without notice. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should swallow their pride and apologize to the families and service members they have offended. Politics has no role in the military.
Can I get partial credit on this? Because I can definitely think of the extremely regrettable things one candidate said to the family of a service member that should occasion an apology, but I’m blanking on the other one. Was it Benghazi? Was it the part where she runs against Trump, and therefore must be made equivalent to him in all things? These and another pressing question—why would Zinke, who has a future in politics, risk his credibility for a man who is to his party as the chicken pox is to a sixth grader?—are explored in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.