President Donald Trump took some criticism from both sides of the aisle this weekend after restructuring his National Security Council to make room for one of his top political advisers. The administration announced Saturday that White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon would be a full member of the council despite his relative lack of military/intelligence experience.
Sen. John McCain spoke out against the decision on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “I am worried about the National Security Council,” he said. “Who are the members of it and who are the permanent members? The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history.”
Well, it’s pretty clear to anyone – supporter or not – that this administration is a “radical departure” from what this country has been doing in the past. You could have missed the entire campaign and still gathered as much from Trump’s inauguration speech, which promised a new day in America. And every day of his presidency since last Friday has, indeed, been unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times.
Now the question is why Republicans like McCain are so afraid of an executive branch shakeup. Why are they suddenly so concerned about letting Muslims from terrorist-riddled nations into the country? We can take solace in the fact that McCain and Lindsey Graham are among the only GOPers speaking out, but that’s still two too many. How is it that these guys can’t see that this is the culmination of everything conservatives have fought for over the last decade?
As president, Trump has every right to restructure his advisory councils as he sees fit. What, would McCain rather he surround himself with people he doesn’t trust? People who think the United States should just keep on plugging away at the Obama Doctrine of foreign policy? What sense does that make? Trump has made it crystal clear that he is going to break from traditional American foreign policy, and he’s certainly going in a different direction than his predecessor.
Besides, this isn’t as wildly unprecedented as it looks. Several media outlets were even gracious enough to admit that Obama’s political strategist, David Axelrod, had been known to sit in on NSC meetings. Maybe he wasn’t a full member of the council, but we’re talking about semantics. If anything, we should give Trump credit for the additional layer of transparency – something that was sorely missed in the Obama years.