Friday, August 04, 2017


Trying to stop a senile old man from killing us all is more important than which fork you use at the dinner table.

“Leaking the transcript of a presidential call to a foreign leader is unprecedented, shocking, and dangerous,” argued The Atlantic’s David Frum. “It is vitally important that a president be able to speak confidentially—and perhaps even more important that foreign leaders understand that they can reply in confidence.”

National leaders should indeed need to be able to trust that their discussions with one another will remain secure. But we are far from the point where foreign leaders assume transcripts of their calls with Trump, let alone future presidents, will end up on the front pages. Many have been quick to assume that this leak will have a chilling effect on U.S. relations with other countries, without stopping to ponder the likelihood that some foreign leaders might be relieved to learn that factions within the U.S. government are taking extraordinary steps to weaken this particular president.

If there are norms worth fretting over here, they aren’t the ones that govern whistleblowing, but the ones that should govern what U.S. political leaders do when the president is too incompetent to serve. It is because of their cowardice—their refusal to uphold norms they were elected and appointed to guard—that these transcripts leaked in the first place.

One norm we should bring back is that people like David Frum should do the honorable thing after being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.