Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Hollow Man

The Joint Chiefs are saying that a tweet is not an official Presidential action.*  More than that, as Josh Marshall points out, it's not even in the chain of command:

The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, with vast powers that position grants him. But the President does not and cannot just dial up the head of Central Command and order a war. There is a specific and statutory chain of command. Under the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, the key players in the process are the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of the Unified Commands – Central Command, European Command, Pacific Command, et al. The key element of Goldwater-Nichols was diminishing the power of the service chiefs in favor of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Combatant Commanders. But the Secretary of Defense remains the key link in the conveyance of commands from the President to the uniformed military.
So this tweet is itself "fake news!"  It is a null set, an empty gesture.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Who knew Eliot was predicting Trump?

*There is a theological angle here, based on speech-act theory.  God speaks, and creation occurs (check Genesis 1).  But the President acts through the system of laws and chains of command established by those laws.  The President tweets, but it doesn't make anything happen.


  1. "The President tweets, but it doesn't make anything happen."

    And when someone brings what he said up to him, two days or two hours later, he'll deny he ever said it. So, less than nothing.

    I will try to recover the earlier, longer comment on your earlier post, Blogger or something seems to have eaten it up.

  2. 1 In the beginning was the Tweet, and the Tweet was with Trump, and the Tweet was Trump.

    2 The same was in the beginning with Trump.

    3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the Democrats comprehended it not.