Donald Trump’s skewed priorities have been apparent since day one. The man who swore an oath to defend our Constitution never had any interest in doing so and pursued the presidency for the mercenary purpose of accumulating personal power to line the pockets of himself, his family, and his cronies.
This president has spent the last four years waging way against the institutions that lend our democracy its strength in service to his own ego and immediate political needs. He claimed to be the “law & order” president while flagrantly violating the law and pretended to be strong on national security while not even bothering to read the President’s Daily Briefing. The simple fact is that Trump has never cared about anything other than himself and he will leave our nation plundered, divided, and weaker in his wake.
Joe Biden will strive to do undo the damage that Trump has inflicted on our Republic, but unfortunately, we still 49 days until he’s sworn into office and there’s no telling what Trump might do in the interim. So far, the indicators are grim.
Late last night, Trump hopped on Twitter and threatened to veto the annual defense bill unless Congress agrees to repeal Section 230, a law that shields social media giants like Twitter and Facebook from legal liability for the content posted on their websites. It also gives them near unlimited leeway to police their platforms and decide what to delete or keep up.
Section 230 has become a personal obsession of Trump’s. He and other Republicans believe or at least pretend to believe that social media companies are violating the rights of conservatives and unfairly suppressing their opinions on their websites. The allegations are unproven and conveniently overlook the fact that many right-wingers are often banned or censored on social media for violating the relevant terms of services—for reasons ranging from the posting of Nazi memes to targeted harassment to the spreading of blatant misinformation.
…..Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2020
The Republican Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee James Inhofe has already pushed back on the president’s boneheaded idea. While he, like many conservatives, is not a fan of Section 230 he at least recognized that it has nothing to do with the military.
“First of all 230 has nothing to do with the military. And I agree with his sentiments we ought to do away with 230 but you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said to reporters.
The Democratic Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith also released a statement on the issue, tweeting that a repeal of Section 230 doesn’t appear in the House or Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“You’re mad at Twitter. We all know it,” taunted Smith before taking Trump to task over making national security an issue of ego.
To be clear, Mr. President, Section 230 repeal wasn’t included in the House OR Senate version of the NDAA.
You’re mad at Twitter. We all know it.
You're willing to veto the defense bill over something that has everything to do with your ego, and nothing to do with defense. https://t.co/qsELyzU9O0
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) December 2, 2020
Whether or not Trump will ultimately fold on his threats remains unclear, but today White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked if the president really intends to tie his support of the National Defense Authorization Act to a repeal of Section 230.
“Yes, the president is serious about it,” said McEnany of Trump’s veto threat. “And I noted you have other world leaders that are making calls for genocide and Twitter not finding that worthy of flagging or blocking,” she went on, pretending as if Trump’s issue with 230 is rooted in some kind of humanitarian impulse rather than his own egomania.
“Beyond that, you look at China who’s putting out disinformation. China tweeted out, I believe it was six days ago, I think it was November 25th that COVID-19 did not originate in Wuhan, something that was not deemed worthy of flagging by Twitter. There are real grave concerns here and the president stands by that,” she added, conveniently failing to mention the massive amounts of misinformation that Trump pumps out on Twitter.
If the Republicans want Twitter to be held accountable for China’s lies, it means Twitter will also have to be held accountable for Trump’s. If that becomes the case, Twitter might end up deciding it’s safer to simply delete the soon-to-be-ex-president’s account.
“And it is also worth noting that the president will always defend our military and ensure we get adequate defense spending as he’s gotten 2.9 trillion dollars so far but he is going to put the pressure on Congress to step up on this,” McEnany concluded, somehow managing to maintain a straight face.
“The president is serious about it” — McEnany says Trump is serious about defunding the military unless Congress punishes Twitter pic.twitter.com/esG2CoXwoI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 2, 2020
By dragging the roughly $740 billion defense budget into his personal vendetta against Silicon Valley, Trump is once again showing that he will always put his own interests over those of the United States. To him, the safety of our country is just another bargaining chip in the endless series of corrupt deals that constitutes his life.
Regardless of what one thinks of the defense budget—and there are compelling arguments for why it should be reconsidered and reshaped—this is not the way to do it. Trump has no interest in meaningful reform or in taking a hard, clear-eyed look at the role of the military-industrial complex in American politics. This is just a cheap, dangerous stunt to get what he wants. After supporting and enabling this ignorant beast for four years, Republicans can never again claim to be the party of national security.