If there’s one lesson we’ve learned in the campaign just past, it’s that America is fed up with political correctness. This straight-talk nation wants the unvarnished truth, with no sugar-coating or beating about the bush. So here goes: Some of President-elect Trump’s team don’t seem fully equipped with the cognitive capabilities needed to make accurate appraisal of events.
Exhibit A: Michael Flynn. No, not the Michael Flynn who has tweet-treated seriously the insane claim that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, her campaign chairman, are running a satanic child-sex ring out of a Washington pizza parlor. That’s the son of Trump’s incoming national security adviser. Vice President-elect Mike Pence said on Tuesday that the young kook, who has previously served as chief of staff in his father’s national intelligence consultancy, has “no involvement . . . whatsoever” in the transition. That’s reassuring — or at least it would be if the younger Flynn didn’t apparently have a Trump transition e-mail address and hadn’t been seen accompanying his father into the Trump Tower of Mordor. Pence might have been more accurate if he’d said that Flynn the younger was no longer involved. Let’s hope not.
But retired Lieutenant General Flynn himself certainly is. And though it’s true that he hasn’t tweeted about anything quite as kooky as the pizza parlor sex ring, “quite” is the key qualifier here. After reviewing his Twitter posts, Politico reported: “Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has ‘secretly waged war’ on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a ‘jihadi’ who ‘laundered’ money for Muslim terrorists.”
The accusation about Clinton and child-sex trafficking came in a “story” Flynn retweeted from a site called True Pundit, which maintained that e-mails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop connected “Hillary Clinton and her crew” to “child exploitation” and “sex crimes with minors.” That account quotes anonymous sources, supposedly from the New York Police Department, saying the information on Weiner’s laptop was enough “to put Hillary (Clinton) and her crew away for life.” In the real world, after the FBI reviewed the e-mails on that device, Director James Comey said the agency had found nothing to change its previous conclusion that there was no reason to prosecute Clinton.
General Flynn also retweeted a loony-toon story about Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta being involved in occult rituals that included drinking blood and other bodily fluids. And one about a supposed plot by the UN to establish one-world government.
Now, kooks and conspiracy theories abound in America. Still, one would hope that a basic requirement for the post of national security adviser is the ability to separate the actual from the absurd. It’s not that hard, at least not for a rational person. Yet it seems to be for General Flynn.
Let’s be even blunter. Flynn doesn’t bring to mind serious, sober figures who have served other Republican presidents, people like Colin Powell or Brent Scowcroft or Condoleezza Rice. He seems more in the mold of General Jack D. Ripper from “Dr. Strangelove,” obsessing over a supposed international conspiracy “to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”
So maybe Oscar Wilde was right, and life really does imitate art — though in this case, farce might be closer to the mark.
It would be amusing if this weren’t such a serious job. And if Trump himself weren’t already so inclined to credit conspiracy theories. As it is, the presence of General Flynn in a top national security post is a cause for real concern.