The president-elect is scaring me now. I don’t agree with many of his positions, but that is not what is scaring me. I am truly scared by someone who does not do his homework and is the leader of the largest military complex (which really has two meanings in this age) in the world.
Mr. Trump does not wish to have daily briefings and is going to let his vice president do that and give him a heads-up when something needs his attention. One could argue that there is nothing in the Intel briefing that does not need his attention, and here is why.
Mr. Trump is essentially a real-estate dealer and owner of a brand. His name is often attached to things he does not run. He owns many businesses run by others. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of that. He is obviously good at delegating business to those under him to do the day-to-day. That may well work in business.
He chose to run for the office of the president of the United States, and I find it hard to believe that he did not at least ask what that job really was before running. Or maybe he didn’t.
I am sure that President Obama was frank and forthcoming in their talks together. The president is about to hand over to Mr. Trump the keys to the nuclear code, the commander-in-chief position, the veto and all the powers and responsibilities that go with the office. Mr. Obama was given a briefing by President Bush and helped to come to the office, as were his predecessors.
The world does not run like a business, and the complexities of hundreds of governments (who does what in each, who owes us a favor, whom do we trust) is not necessarily what it appears on first glance.
Many elements are at odds across the world, and many men and women do nothing but listen, strategize and analyze on our behalf. Their secret world is shared with only a handful of people, primarily the president, Joint Chiefs and some members of Congress.
These briefings are, I am sure, sometimes repetitive, but nuance and change surely must be reflected during the days, months and years that can help a president see the world in a way no businessman or businesswoman could possibly imagine. This is the stuff that is “behind the curtain,” which is either seldom lifted or meant not to be lifted at all, which is why we have drones and spies.
To decide not to do his homework and getting briefed as “needed” scares me. Mr. Pence should be an add-on, not a filter.
The decision to take military action or withdraw support does not turn on one moment alone, unless we are directly attacked. It now turns on subtleties of intention, associations of decades, economics, and — dare one add? — a sense of human decency toward other people as regards spending our treasure to either destroy or assist them.
Can one be briefed about a crisis in 15 minutes? In an unexpected emergency, that may be necessary. But in a world that is changing, morphing and politically evolving daily, most things are not unexpected.
Anticipation of the possible is what Intel can help a president mull over. We hire the man or woman in that job to prepare, study, be conversant and mentally agile with facts and response.
None of us live in the world any president steps into. None of us can imagine all the “balls in the air” that must be juggled daily. But once one asks for and gets the job, I had hoped that it would be done to the fullest.
I urge our senators to help nudge Mr. Trump in the direction of doing the job fully by doing his homework and gaining more in-depth knowledge of the extreme complexities he has worked so hard to take over. I believe he wanted this job. This job. He is not running a company, but a country. And since he really wanted it, I expect him to really do it.
He ran for and won the hardest and most sensitive job in the world, and it needs his full and complete attention, because defending and protecting us and the constitutional existence of this country is a full-time and burdensome thing.
We underestimate the need for critical knowledge and thinking at our very real peril.