• Jorge Velasco

OPINION: Trump Plan to Strip Security Clearances Smacks of Pettiness

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Supporters of President Trump often explain that they like his confrontational style, insisting that the man is simply standing up for himself.  As opposed to past commanders-in-chief who largely ignored criticism and administration leaks, Trump has become widely known for lashing out publicly.  While Trump’s vocal retorts definitely prove that he is no shrinking violet, they have reached the point where the smack of pettiness is rather than strength.

The President’s most recent political brouhaha concerns security clearances. As the nation’s chief executive, he gets to decide who gets clearance to access sensitive information. Until now, retired assets from the military and intelligence agencies have gotten to retain their clearances, but perhaps no more.

Former CIA director John Brennan, who has been critical of President Trump, has had his security clearance unceremoniously revoked. As other ex-spies and retired top brass have condemned the White House’ move, the President has upped the ante by threatening to revoke other critics‘ security clearances.

I get it – Trump is pissed. Many of his critics likely have political motives, and are bashing the President simply because they don’t like his politics. But when you’re the President of the United States, you need to act like a grown-up. Trump’s “standing up for himself” shtick is starting to wear thin, and putting retiree critics on a list to have their security clearances revoked reeks of pettiness. By not having thick enough skin to let complaints roll of his back, Trump presents weakness rather than strength. He is revealing that he can be goaded into ridiculous tirades.

Tirades may invigorate Donald Trump’s loyal base, but they are unlikely to win over any of the moderate and independent voters he desperately needs in 2020.

He may have gotten hordes of votes from the never-Hillary crowd, but is unlikely to have such an unsavory opponent in the next round. After almost 19 months in office, Trump needs to start acting like he is comfortable in the Oval Office. As predecessor Barack Obama famously brushed that dirt off his shoulder, so should Trump.

Quasi-scandals aside, Trump is in an excellent position to win a second term against all odds: The national economy is thriving, the nation is at peace, and his Democratic rivals are still divided and largely bland.

He should be waking up every day with a smile on his face and possess the confidence to ignore his critics. Instead, Trump is allowing himself to be pulled into every blogosphere scuffle there is, and the resulting images are not flattering. If only he would pull it together, he would be living a life of presidential ease not enjoyed since Bill Clinton.