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Editorial: Commander in tweets

July 27, 2017 GMT

Any attempt to engage in a serious discussion about the potential challenges associated with transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military has now been rendered impossible, and all because the commander in chief decided he felt like issuing an out-of-the-blue order via Twitter, while his secretary of defense was away on vacation.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Another case of President Trump vomiting out a major policy directive via the internet — and creating utter confusion in the process.

For example, transgender individuals already serve in the military. They have been able to do so openly since last summer, under a policy enacted by the Obama administration. Under the Transgender Twitter Directive, will those individuals be rousted from their bunks, told their services are no longer needed?

Never say never. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday wouldn’t answer when asked whether transgender troops, including those who are currently deployed to war zones, might be expelled.

Under the Obama policy the military was to begin accepting new transgender recruits this month. But Defense Secretary James Mattis had announced a six-month delay, pending a review of the impact on military readiness and cost. Yesterday the president effectively flushed that review down the toilet.

Politico reported on a possible explanation for the tweetstorm: Some House Republicans had been asking the White House for help to ensure the Pentagon would not fund gender reassignment surgery for troops. Like Forrest Gump, it appears Trump took that ball and ran it all the way off the field.