Mike Flynn is out . . . as are the media's knives

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Tuesday February 14th, 2017


The reason for the resignation seems pretty straightforward. Mike Flynn is out as National Security Advisor because he apparently lied to Vice President Pence about having discussed the disposition of sanctions with the Russians. Flynn told Pence he hadn't. He had. He's out. I don't care who you are, you don't lie to Mike Pence.

There is some talk that David Petraeus and possibly even Secretary of Defense James Mattis are under consideration to replace Flynn. Both would be curious choices, since Mattis is very much valued at the Pentagon and Petraeus carries baggage of his own - although both would undoubtedly be highly qualified and capable in the job.

But you had to know the media wouldn't just let the administration get past this. This morning on Good Morning America, George Stephanoupolous tried pretty hard to do the Woodward and Bernstein routine on Kellyanne Conway:

I guess Stephanoupolous thinks he can nail Trump if he can somehow show that Trump knew Flynn lied to Pence and didn't actually fire him, but instead waited for Flynn to resign. I think he's wrong.

For one thing, even if Trump did know three weeks ago that Flynn lied, that doesn't necessarily mean it would have been the right or smart thing to do to simply fire Flynn on the spot. A smart executive gathers all the facts and considers his options before making a move like that. Part of that is checking with multiple sources to confirm what really happened as opposed to what one person or another person said happened.

Just because the media demands that a firing happen in the span of a second doesn't mean that's necessarily the right thing to do. Flynn didn't even survive the first month of the Trump presidency. I'd say he fell on his sword pretty damn quickly. Also, just because he submitted his resignation as opposed to being "fired" doesn't necessarily mean he did so of his own volition. It's entirely possible Trump asked him to resign but did so privately and between the two of them.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

That said, for all the media hyperventilation about relatively trivial issues in the early Trump Administration, this one really is troubling. It could certaily turn out to be an isolated thing that doesn't portend a pattern, and we certainly hope that's the case. But what Flynn did here is astonishingly sloppy. If you slipped up and broached a subject with the Russians when you weren't supposed to, just be honest with Pence and discuss how best to deal with the matter. There's nothing to be gained by lying about it.

I don't know enough about Flynn do know if he's demonstrated a pattern of poor judgment like this. But maybe Trump should have known him a little better before handing him such a sensitive job only to be burned by an extraordinarily bad exercise in judgment. I don't put much stock in anonymously sourced reports that there is chaos inside the administration, but it's not surprising early in a new presidency for people to be jockeying for position and trying to figure out who is really going to have authority and influence. Trump needs to make sure these questions are settled decisively and quickly.

And if you ask me, the more power Mike Pence and Reince Preibus end up with, the better.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!