Get A Load Of Robert O'Brien, Trump's Newest NSA Assh*le
Can we just cut the shit here? There is no National Security Advisor. It doesn't matter if Trump appoints John Bolton, or Jon Bon Jovi, or whatever sycophantic white dude he's picked out today. Remember when Joe Scarborough asked candidate Trump who his foreign policy advisers were and he said ME CUZ I'M SO GOOD AT DEALZ 'N' STUFF?
I'm speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I've said a lot of things. I know what I'm doing and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people and at the appropriate time I'll tell you who the people are. But my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.
He meant it! He really does think he knows better than the generals because one time he talked to a waiter at the 21 Club. (That's not even a joke.) He's not listening to ANYBODY. Donald Trump is gonna do whatever crazy shit he's gonna do, and everyone around him will either clap like trained seals, or they'll find themselves tweetfired and humiliating themselves on national television.
(Trust the wardrobe guys, Sean, they only have your best interests at heart!)
But fine, since he's been officially named as National Security Advisor, let's talk about noted boring-ass white dude Robert O'Brien, whose main qualification for the job seems to be that Trump "liked the look of him" when they met last week. Oh, and in the year that he's been "Chief Hostage Negotiator, USA!" he praised Trump's "unparalleled success in bringing Americans home without paying concessions, without prisoner exchanges, but through force of will and the goodwill that he's generated around the world." Which is probably news to Otto Warmbier's parents. But A$AP Rocky came home pretty quick, so O'Brien's definitely got the National Security chops to negotiate with Kim Jong Un.
O'Brien is a highly successful lawyer who has been kicking around Republican circles for long enough to have been appointed to a handful of low-level advisory positions like the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan and the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, whatever the hell that is. But O'Brien's hard right views and his central-casting hair made him a natural for television, where he made frequent appearances to deride Barack Obama and his limp-wristed insistence on trying to ratchet down some of our forever wars.
O'Brien is a rockribbed adherent of American exceptionalism, which is premised on the belief that the rules don't apply to us because we are ever so much better than anyone else. He laid these views out in a 2016 book titled While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis, with an introduction by Hugh Hewitt (of course!) and a cover blurb from John Bolton.
In it, O'Brien blamed Obama for Russia's annexation of Crimea and China's continuing buildup of islands in the South China Sea. He faulted Obama for insufficiently supporting our strongmen allies, such as Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whom O'Brien unironically referred to as "the elected president of Egypt." He also likened the Iran nuclear deal to the 1938 Munich agreement and said, "President Obama has paved the way for a nuclear Iran and given the Mullahs over $100 billion in sanctions relief as an incentive to agree to Western appeasement." Which is #HotTake for a guy whose boss just invited the Taliban to Camp David and floated the idea of a $15 billion line of credit for Iran to get "the Mullahs" back to the negotiating table. And, not for nothing, but Russia still has Crimea, and China is furiously building up its military capability in the South China Sea.
But it's different, see, because now we're respected again!
Which is not to say that he's a bomb thrower. O'Brien's basically a nobody, which is about all he has going for him besides a bottomless capacity to flatter That Idiot and pretend whatever insane nonsense he sharts out today is BRILLIANT. Let Foreign Policy break it down for ya:
That lack of profile may be an asset in the Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly chafed at advisors whose public personas have threatened to eclipse his. "He's not a guy who's ever going to run for president," said James Carafano, a national security expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
By not seeking to advance his own agenda, O'Brien may be able to more effectively mediate between the larger egos of Pompeo and his principal rival for influence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. O'Brien, Carafano said, "doesn't have a power base that competes with them."
John Bolton left the National Security Council a hollowed out shell that rarely met, had no process, and had zero influence over the White House's foreign policy. FFS, Donald Trump took Tucker Carlson to North Korea and sent John Bolton to Mongolia. Literally! So now we're getting a new National Security Asskisser with even less clout, who'll fill the chair until he steps out of line and gets kicked to the curb like all the rest.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.