Trump discovers responsibility

The president has added a new word to his vocabulary. It is responsibility. I had never heard him use it, but he said it at least three times yesterday in quick succession with reference to the gas attack on Syrian civilians.

King Abdullah II of Jordan and Donald Trump

 

“I now have responsibility,” he said, implying that he was accepting a burden President Obama had shirked.

Trump is not known to read newspapers, but I believe he was moved to claim this responsibility after reading–or being told about–Dana Milbank’s column in yesterday’s Washington Post, in which Milbank compiled a catalogue of events and circumstances, many of Trump’s own making, for which he cast the blame upon others.

His eager acceptance of responsibility yesterday in the presence of King Abdullah II of Jordan, however, was a bit odd. While repeating the word over and over, he did not say what responsibility he meant to accept and declined an invitation to elaborate.

It appeared that, while criticizing President Obama for drawing a “red line in the sand” and doing nothing when the line was crossed, Trump took the first step toward the same dilemma. Having said “many lines were crossed, many, many lines” by the Syrian use of poison gas, he will now have to do something.

He’s about to discover how difficult it is to wear the crown. He has committed himself, but to what? It is probably fair to say that he doesn’t know, that he will order his generals to come up with a plan.

If their plan works, he will take the credit. If it does not work–or plunges the United States into another endless and unpopular Middle East war–he will blame his generals.

It is one thing to accept responsibility on a sunny Rose Garden day before the decision. It is quite another to accept it when greeting coffins in the rain at Dover Air Force Base.

 

 

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