Editorial roundup


Aug. 13, The New York Times on the feud between former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman and President Donald Trump:

President Trump’s spat with Omarosa Manigault Newman, the White House adviser who was fired in December for “serious integrity issues,” is another of those particularly Trumpian innovations in public life — the raging dumpster fire that continues to yield new trash.

In her juicy new tell-all, aptly titled “Unhinged,” Ms. Manigault Newman paints an unflattering portrait of the president, whom she has known since appearing as a contestant on his reality TV show “The Apprentice” in 2004. She characterizes Mr. Trump as a racist, misogynistic narcissist with poor impulse control, severe attention-deficit issues and signs of creeping mental decline, who “loves the hate,” ”thrives on criticism and insults” and “delights in chaos and confusion.” Her anecdotes range from the prosaically awful (she claims he has used the N-word) to the freakish (she says she once walked into the Oval Office and found him eating paper). She says the Trump campaign offered her a $15,000-a-month sinecure to keep quiet about her on-the-job experiences. (A copy of the agreement has become public.) And, oh yes, she has secret audio recordings to corroborate some of her claims, including a recording of her firing by the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, in the Situation Room.

Mr. Trump has responded with characteristic restraint. He has dismissed Ms. Manigault Newman as “wacky”; called her a “lowlife”; mocked her for her having, he claims, weepily begged him for a job in the White House; and said she was “hated” by her colleagues for being “nasty,” ”vicious, but not smart” and “nothing but problems.” Despite all this, insists Mr. Trump, he had tried his best to make things work because Ms. Manigault Newman always said “GREAT things” about him. For this president, there remains no higher job qualification than constantly telling him and others what a super guy he is.

On both sides, the spat is vintage Trump: tawdry, cruel, vindictive and highly personal. That said, this is about more than a petty feud with a former aide who famously shares Mr. Trump’s love of chaos, confusion and high drama. It is also a glaring reminder of one of this president’s central failings as a leader: his disastrous judgment when choosing people with whom to surround himself.

Online: https://www.nytimes.com

Aug. 15, The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina on President Donald Trump’s idea to create a Space Force:

Earlier this month, President Trump’s administration doubled down on his earlier proposal to create a Space Force as a new branch of the United States military. The suggestion, as before, was met with much eye-rolling and plenty of snarky remarks from the president’s critics.

We have argued before that space is a uniquely bad place to wage war. But Mr. Trump seems serious about the idea, so perhaps it’s worth seriously weighing.

And besides, it wouldn’t be the first time that pushing the military into a new frontier drew skepticism. Military officials at the start of World War I were famously critical of the usefulness of airplanes in combat. That turned out to be a shortsighted opinion, to say the least.

Certainly, the Air Force has helped make the world a safer place. It’s possible that boosting our military capabilities in space would do the same. But there are also a lot of ways things could go wrong.

For one thing, when something blows up in the air, it falls to the ground. When something blows up in space, it turns into millions of tiny bullets that whiz around the planet faster than the speed of sound until they burn up in the atmosphere or crash to Earth, sometimes many years later.

High-speed junk in orbit makes it harder to keep satellites safe, which threatens communications, scientific research, GPS service and, of course, military technology. All of that mess in space also makes it harder for us to get off of Earth, which is important for studying our home planet — and possibly for one day traveling to a new one.

So far, we don’t know how to clean up space. So if satellites — or missiles — started smashing into each other, the chain reaction could wipe out so much crucial technology that it could plunge us into a virtual Dark Age for many years.

That’s something called the Kessler Syndrome, and it’s not entirely hypothetical. In 2007, China tested an anti-satellite technology that created at least 150,000 pieces of debris — thousands of which are large enough to be tracked from the ground — that will orbit the Earth for decades.

In other words, the less stuff we blow up in space, the better.

Besides, the United States already has significant military capabilities in space. We blew up a satellite too, in 1985, for example. And each branch of the military already has operations dedicated at least in part to space-based warfare. Even the Coast Guard plans to launch satellites this year.

Mr. Trump and his administration have been decidedly light on details of how a Space Force would be any different from current operations. Perhaps it would be prudent to combine different areas of expertise under one command. But no one has effectively articulated what’s wrong with the existing setup.

The more immediate concern is that talk about a Space Force distracts from some significantly more pressing challenges facing the United States — not the least of which is growing aggression from North Korea, Russia, Iran and other dangerous regimes that still commit or facilitate plenty of violence here on Earth.

President Trump’s Space Force proposal is less a punchline than the reaction on late-night television would suggest. In fact, it’s not necessarily a preposterous idea at all, just one that ought to be very low on the priority list.

And our ultimate goal — whether we pursue it with a Space Force, existing military efforts, treaties or some combination thereof — ought to be preserving space as a place for exploration, learning and international cooperation, not yet another frontier for destruction and conflict.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com