Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified – and these folks would know

The Observer editorial board

Trump would be a reckless and dangerous president, Republican foreign policy experts say.
Trump would be a reckless and dangerous president, Republican foreign policy experts say. AP

Don’t take it from Hillary Clinton. Don’t take it from the media. Take it, instead, from 50 leading Republicans who have all worked directly with Republican presidents or their main advisers on national security and foreign policy:

Donald Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.”

In an unprecedented move, 50 of the nation’s leading Republican foreign policy experts issued a statement Monday denouncing their party’s nominee as singularly unfit for the office. Their language was unconditional, spelling out the many ways Trump would be a dangerous commander in chief.

“In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities” required of a president, they wrote. “He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Right on cue, Trump acted impetuously, saying at a Wilmington, N.C., rally on Tuesday that “2nd Amendment people” could stop Hillary Clinton from picking judges, which many took as an incitement to violence.

Almost no one is better positioned to know what’s required of a president than the group that issued the statement. It includes former Homeland Security chiefs Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge; Dick Cheney’s national security advisor, Eric Edelman; former CIA Director Michael Hayden; former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; and others who served Republican administrations, from Nixon to Bush 43.

These people are not running for office. They don’t need the limelight. They are not pundits on the sidelines who haven’t been there. These individuals have been in the national-security trenches. They know what’s required of a president, and they have no incentive to criticize Donald Trump other than out of genuine concern for the country.

That so many key players in the Republican national-security establishment feel this way raises the question of who a President Trump would have as foreign policy advisers. It would not be people with a tremendous amount of experience.

It raises another question as well: How does the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman reconcile his embrace of Trump with what these experts have to say? That would be North Carolina’s Richard Burr, who is seeking reelection and who has supported Trump’s campaign.

The signatories to the letter made clear they are not necessarily supporting Clinton. But they know what they think of Trump.

Trump “has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based,” they write.

We understand why people are frustrated with government, and the appeal of an outsider. But this letter is a different animal than the typical back-and-forth of politics, and should make voters consider if this is really the outsider they want.