Dangerous talk about the election and the military

It was a jaw-dropping moment. The fact that it came from a military man was particularly troubling. Flynn, a retired three-star general, did not have the screen presence of Burt Lancaster, who, in the 1960s coup melodrama Seven Days in May, played a general railing about the weakness of the nation’s political leadership. But Flynn nevertheless evoked the movie as he went on to blame the current situation on what he perceived as the weakness of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, of the Court as a whole, and of the Republican Party…

What to make of it all? Was it just talk? Throughout his presidency Trump’s critics have failed — or refused — to distinguish between the things the president sometimes says and the things he actually does. It is fair to say there is no chance that martial law will be declared and the election results overturned. It is easy to imagine the president saying to someone: They say I should seize the voting machines. What do you think? That’s the way Trump has discussed many, many other topics during his time in office. At the same time, Trump has also shown repeatedly that his talk is just talk. “Despite his alarming rhetoric, Trump has complied consistently with court decisions and worked within the legal system,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote in discussing the martial law story.

But if it was just talk, what about the idea that there are some things that one just doesn’t talk about?…

Flynn’s words were also an embarrassment for many who had defended him, or more specifically criticized the treatment he received at the hands of the FBI and Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.