As a predominant world leader on an increasingly volatile world stage, many would assume that Donald Trump would be above petty insults and seemingly insignificant personal drama. However, as the months of his presidency tick by, Trump has repeatedly and even increasingly demonstrated a willingness to use his presidency and his social media accounts as platforms for personal and often undignified attacks against his foes. Now, in the wake of North Korea’s latest and most successful ballistic missile launch, the POTUS has once again taken to social media to share highly-controversial and graphic anti-Muslim videos so violent people have wondered if they could be a Twitter TOS violation. Earlier in the week, Trump once again referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” (an inappropriate joke that Politico reports the Navajo Nation President has called an “ethnic slur”) – and that’s not all.
As CNN reports, recent bizarre Trump tweets also include insinuations that Morning Joe anchor Joe Scarborough may have somehow been involved in the death of an intern in Florida years ago, attacks on disgraced anchor Matt Lauer (terminated for sexual misconduct), the “Fake News,” and an attack on Theresa May. Donald Trump has also refrained from denying reports that he has called the infamous Access Hollywood tapes fake, held a press conference surrounded by the empty chairs of Democratic legislators who refused to appear with him and called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy” during a Wednesday event in Missouri.
While bizarre behavior has become par for the course for Donald Trump, many of his critics have expressed increasing concern that they could be a sign of a deficiency when it comes to presidential competency. As CNN reports, the concern surrounding a potential lack of Trump competency is further exacerbated by the current state of global affairs, primarily tensions between North Korea and the United States. For months, Kim Jong Un has been threatening nuclear conflict with the United States and has engaged in an increasingly personal war of words with Donald Trump. On Tuesday, the North Korean regime launched its most potentially devasting missile ever and appears to be inching ever closer to the ability to successfully target the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon.
All the while, Donald Trump’s use of social media, alleged “ethnic slurs” and bizarre and pointed insults have led many to wonder if the finger on the U.S. nuclear button is attached to a competent mind. Included among those concerned about the “disturbing” tweets and behavior of Donald Trump is James Clapper. In a Tuesday interview, the former Director of National Intelligence wondered openly why Trump would even consider retweeting controversial and shockingly violent videos featured by the far-right nationalist group Britain First – let alone actually following through with the idea.
“I have no idea what would motivate him to do that. To me, it’s bizarre and disturbing, particularly when I think of him doing that in the context of North Korea, where moderation, and temperance and thought I think is critical.”
This is far from the first time that Trump’s apparent unwillingness to adhere to social boundaries regarding culture, religion, race, and behavior has spawned widespread discussion regarding his competency – or perhaps lack thereof. And it’s not just people on the other side of the political aisle that are questioning Trump’s mental fitness. Republican Senator Bob Corker recently warned that the POTUS could spark WWIII with his uncensored and often insulting wars of words with Kim Jong Un. Just last month, reports Vanity Fair, Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced he would not be seeking re-election, and in a blistering resignation speech attacked the “alarming and dangerous” Trump. Flake also had plenty to say about Trump’s recent tweets and behavior, calling them “inappropriate,” and adding that he has plans to begin a set of Senate speeches addressing Trump and his “disregard for the truth.”
“It’s very inappropriate. Why? What does that get us? I’m having a hard time understanding it.”
Despite his critics’ concerns about his competency, Donald Trump has remained focused on the successes of his presidency, speaking of them to the exclusion of all failures. In a recent Missouri speech, the POTUS touted his accomplishments in the Oval Office, swearing that there had “never been” a presidency that had accomplished more in the same amount of time.
“There has never been a 10-month presidency that has accomplished what we have accomplished.”
In the midst of his questionable anti-Muslim retweets and critiques of Matt Lauer and Joe Scarborough, the POTUS has also been tweeting about his economic success – while stumping for support for his controversial new tax plan. Many have criticized the new Trump tax plan as being a boon for the rich that comes directly from the pockets of the poor and middle class.
However, even amid a slew of tax-related tweets, Donald Trump seemingly can’t help but incite controversy and drama on a global scale. In one tweet, he directly attacks UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who was critical of the recent Britain First videos retweeted by the POTUS. Of the handful of anti-Muslim videos retweeted from the feed of Jayden Fransen of Britain First (who is currently facing charges of using threatening or abusive language following an appearance at a far-right rally in Belfast this summer); one appeared to show a Muslim desecrating and destroying a Christian statue, another claimed to show a handful of purported Muslims push a youth off of a roof, and a third depicted an alleged Muslim beating a Dutch boy on crutches. The credibility of the last video was immediately discredited, calling into question the validity of the rest, and a public outcry against Trump on both sides of the Atlantic was born.
In response, The Guardian reports that Theresa May (through a spokesperson) condemned the Trump tweet along with Britain First.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect.”
Donald Trump responded to the condemnation with a direct social media attack on Theresa May herself, advising her to focus on her own nation and the “Radical Islamic Terrorism” he claims is taking place within its borders. Traditionally, the United Kingdom has been the closest ally of the United States, and in the event of a war with North Korea, perhaps even a nuclear war, a divide between the two nations’ leadership could prove devastating. However, the public has witnessed the creation of just such a divide over the last year due to Trump’s unpopularity in the UK.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders addressed public and international concerns regarding Trump sharing the controversial Britain First videos during a press conference, essentially claiming that it doesn’t matter if the videos are real because they are illustrative of a threat that is.
“Whether it is a real video, the threat is real.”
According to many Trump critics, the same is true regarding questions about his competency. While the United States may not be facing nuclear war with North Korea tomorrow, the threat seems to be getting more and more real. And without a competent president, the outcome of any such war is seriously in question. As CNN reports, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently held a hearing – the first of its kind in over four decades – to address Trump’s authority to order a nuclear strike. In that hearing, US Strategic Command commander Gen. John Hyten claimed he would refuse to honor an “illegal” Trump nuclear strike order.
“I provide advice to the President. He’ll tell me what to do, and if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m gonna say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ Guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated.”
The early November Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting was prompted by Democratic lawmakers’ concerns about Trump’s competency, and whether or not the POTUS is too “unstable” and “volatile” to be responsible for the United States’ nuclear arsenal. According to Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, he was concerned that Trump may order a nuclear strike contrary to U.S. security interests.
“We are concerned that the President of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests.”