CLAY: What is amazing here is how many people are lining up to make the argument that this makes General Milley heroic. In fact, many people are arguing that he’s protecting democracy, and I just want to continue to hammer this home because I think it’s significant. Buck, you know this better than almost anybody having worked in the intelligence agencies.
The United States… The reason why our commander-in-chief is a civilian is to avoid exactly this from happening, to avoid the military being able to take control of a democratically elected president’s decision-making. And it is a challenge and a difference in the way that things are organized for someone who oftentimes has never served in the military.
Bill Clinton never served in the military. Barack Obama never served in the military. Donald Trump never served in the military. There are lots of our leaders who have not been in the military, and so we want a civilian commander-in-chief to send the message that the military is always subject to the will of a democratically elected president, that the military serves the people, not the military’s generals.
In a hierarchical system where you have direct-response authority to your commanding officer, you can see how it could easily spiral into a coup-like situation, which has happened all around the world when a high-level general decides, “I’m not going to listen to my superior. I’m going to do what I think is best.” That is a fundamental attack upon democracy itself.
BUCK: There’s a reason why coups don’t usually happen based on the head of the education department or the sanitation department, right? The guy who is in charge of —
CLAY: Or grandmas going to the Capitol to take selfies.
BUCK: Yeah, but there’s a reason why, historically and otherwise, it’s the guys who have control over the people with the guns. We all know this, which is why what you’re talking about is so central, so important. But this reflective partisanship on an issue that you would think maybe would break through somewhat beyond that is fascinating.
Because remember, Clay, they don’t feel the need to defend General Milley so much. They’re not defending General Milley. They are praising and honoring him for this, right? So it’s not enough to say, “The guy that did the weird, bad thing against Trump shouldn’t’a done it but it was that big a deal and let’s not blow it out of proportion.” No! It’s, “The person who did the underhanded thing against Trump who betrayed the then-commander-in-chief’s trust is a hero,” as we have been discussing. That’s going on. That’s the gaslighting part of this.
CLAY: And even further than that, Buck, Claire McCaskill said he was “trying to defend democracy,” which is actually turning on its head the entire purpose of what military subservience to a civilian commander-in-chief actually represents. She should know better as a former senator, and that’s why I’m gonna tee off here. Listen to cut 5.
MCCASKILL: Yesterday, after it is revealed — like some kind of shock to Marco Rubio — that our top general was calling to defend democracy, as Joe said, to an undemocratic leader in the world to make sure that a war didn’t break out, to make sure they knew our strength much, much stronger than the nonsense that Donald Trump was creating, what does Trump say? Fire him for treason? I mean, this is really something, that these people are still following this guy when he is so bad at respecting the Constitution and the rule of law.
CLAY: It’s upside down, Buck.
BUCK: She really needs some yoga. She needs to calm down. There’s something really… It’s uncomfortable to hear what someone like this in a position of authority in the United States government is saying, Clay, because it’s so deluded. I mean, it’s really a break with reality. It’s divorced from what is observable truth. What was this huge threat to democracy? The system actually played out.
We’re seeing this all happen. What was the big problem, exactly, here? There were disputes about an election? There have been disputes about elections in the past. It ended up being resolved and everything ended. Well, I say resolved. The system should continue on. I know there’s a lot unresolved for people about how they feel the votes were counted and not counted, et cetera.
But war with China? How does Trump saying, “They let people vote out of their county in Georgia,” which, by the way, they did do, which is against Georgia state law, but we’re not supposed to talk about that. How does that equate to invading China or missile strikes on Beijing? This is lunacy.
CLAY: This is not Joy Reid, who somehow gets a television show because she’s a media performer on television. What you just heard is Claire McCaskill who spent 12 years in the United States Senate, and she is fundamentally not understanding the role of the Constitution and in fact, inverting the role of the Constitution to argue that a military official is preserving the Constitution by flagrantly violating his obligations as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
And Joe Scarborough, Buck, also theoretically — and, by the way, Claire McCaskill is also a lawyer and has been theoretically able to pass the bar in Missouri and serve for 12 years in the Senate. Joe Scarborough is making the same argument on MSNBC. And, Buck, he’s a former Republican congressman. I know he sold his ethics down the river.
BUCK: Whoever pays him the most. That’s what he stands for.
CLAY: Yeah, that’s what he stands for. But this is a guy who was from, I believe, the Gulf of Florida, the panhandle, and now he’s saying that anybody attacking General Milley is stupid. Listen to this.
SCARBOROUGH: They’re upset that he’s calling a leader in China, saying, “Don’t think you can take advantage of the United States of America. Democracy can be chaotic, but we’re strong, we’re solid, we’re in good shape. Nothing’s going to happen. We’re not going to act erratically, and you’re not gonna takes advantage of us.” (sputtering) I’m sorry. This is…
Republicans don’t like this? This is something… Are you so the stupid? I just gotta ask, “Are you so stupid, are you so ignorant of how things work that you don’t know that from time to time, generals talk to generals? Diplomats talk to diplomats? And they send that message, ‘Hey, things like kind of crazy in the United States. Don’t take advantage of this situation. Don’t take advantage of it, because we’re solid.'”
BUCK: Notice how he leaves out the whole, “I’ll tell you if we’re gonna attack you” thing.
CLAY: And I’m not going to listen my commander-in-chief, which is a pretty big part here, too.
BUCK: We’re gonna subvert the command on a direct-order basis, and also the war that you’re for some reason worried about that I’m even talking about…” I mean, he should be saying, “That’s absurd. That’s laughable. Of course, that’s not gonna happen! Of course, Trump’s not gonna start a war with China. The whole thing is Crazy Town.”
But notice this is a continuation of a Democrat strategy that they have been using in the Trump era, which is really just a version of they want to burn the village down in order to save it. When it came to “undermining our institutions of government…” Remember, that was the big talking point.
“They’re undermining our institutions of government,” they would say, and then they’d say, “Hold on a second. There are people in the intelligence committee working with journalists to surveil the Trump presidential campaign, and then continue that with FISA into the start of the administration.” They have Comey briefing on the dossier.
You look at these things. That was all subverting the system, the will of the people as shown in the 2016 election results, but they would talk about how they were saving the system, Clay. They saved the system by destroying it. They prop up the chain of command by undermining it. I mean, people abuse the term “Orwellian” a lot. “War is peace, freedom is slavery,” et cetera.
But this is actually Orwellian. This is what we’re seeing play out with Democrat narrative of, “Anything we gotta do to keep our side on offense against Trump,” even though Trump… We just saw this with Gavin Newsom. Trump’s not even in office anymore! Doesn’t matter. He’s the great bogeyman.
CLAY: This is why I always say you have to be to ideals, not necessarily to people, and that’s why I like to always think about this from the legal perspective because a lot of times individuals… There’s a great legal affirm aneurysm which is “tough cases make bad law.” And I think the Democratic Party abandoned all principles, because they became convinced that Donald Trump was the worst person who’s ever existed basically in the world of politics.
As a result, I’m just saying, for Claire McCaskill or Joe Scarborough or Joy Reid or any of these people that we played the audio from praising General Milley, the exact same situation applies, except Joe Biden is the president that is being undermined. Is Milley still a hero? Is he still a courageous fighter for the Constitution? Or is he subverting our entire constitutional system?
BUCK: I think one of the best and clearest examples of exactly what you talked about is the abandonment of principle in the name of the principle of anti-Trumpism, which supersedes everything else is what journalists do.
CLAY: Yes. Very true.
BUCK: Journalists for four years under Trump started to come out and just say it: “‘Speaking truth to power’ here means anything goes to hurt Trump. It’s doing our job as guardians of the republic, the fourth estate.” They’re really the fifth column, but the fourth estate. They felt like whatever they had to do to defeat Trump was inherently justified, even if it meant undermining the very foundational precepts of their work, which is supposed to be presenting information to the American people and allowing them to decide. They changed their tune on that.
CLAY: That’s right.
BUCK: So clearly this happened. We all know that this happened. And I think they haven’t even processed how much we haven’t forgotten it. And that’s why when you have these people… You mentioned Claire McCaskill and Joy Reid over at MSNBC. I have conservative friends who actually will watch the Joy Reid show.
Just because they find it unintentionally hilarious sometimes, which is actually how I felt about the Maddow show monologue on occasion, where she would go on some, “You know, a guy named Sergey, you know, bought a pierogi in 1987, yada yada yada. Trump-Putin collusion,” right? You just say, what? This is what you do night after night.
CLAY: And now she makes $40 million a year from NBC, I think.
BUCK: Hey, it pays well to sell your soul.
CLAY: She’s at least smart. Maddow is a Rhodes Scholar —
CLAY: — which is scarier than Joy Reid, who is just (chuckling).
BUCK: Rhodes scholarships are very political. It’s a conversation for another time.
CLAY: That is… But, yeah, Scarborough and Joy Reid and Claire McCaskill just completely subverting the entire purpose of our Constitution and turning Milley into a hero is, I think, a fundamental failure of principle. “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Remember all that jazz?