On Sunday night, President Donald Trump tweeted this:
“Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!”
The tweet was in reference to drone attacks on Saudi oil fields – and seemed a very clear threat that a military response was in the offing once the culprit became clear. After all, the words “locked and loaded” directly imply that weapons are, uh, locked and loaded to be delivered at the push of a button.
Except it doesn’t! See, what the President meant by saying “locked and loaded” actually had nothing at all to do with a threat of military strike! Not at all!
“I think that ‘locked and loaded’ is a broad term and talks about the realities that we’re all far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence,” said Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short on Monday morning.
Which is, of course, absolutely and totally ridiculous on its face. So, when Trump said that we are “locked and loaded depending on verification,” what he was talking about was the “realities that we’re all far safer and more secure domestically from energy independence?”
Come on, man. It’s not even close.
Just ask Trump, who tweeted this in the wake of Short’s “explanation” of his “locked and loaded” comments:
“Remember when Iran shot down a drone, saying knowingly that it was in their ‘airspace’ when, in fact, it was nowhere close. They stuck strongly to that story knowing that it was a very big lie. Now they say that they had nothing to do with the attack on Saudi Arabia. We’ll see?”
This is an administration that has repeatedly tried to tell the public that what they are hearing and seeing isn’t what they are hearing and seeing. Literally.
“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said in July 2018. “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”
The sheer gall of Short to claim that “locked and loaded” has nothing to do with a military threat is only possible in an administration and with a President who has deeply denigrated the idea of facts and truth. Short feels that he has license to make these outlandish claims because the big boss would say the same. Rather than being punished for living in an unreality, Short will be praised for it.
Take a step back here and just use your gut instincts. Let’s say Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted saying that Russia was “locked and loaded” to respond if the US continued to push the idea that they sought to meddle in the 2016 election. (They did – obviously.) Would you assume that by “locked and loaded” what Putin was doing was using a “broad term” that didn’t connote the possibility of a military strike? OF COURSE YOU WOULDN’T.
What Short is asking the public to do is to entirely suspend common sense here. We all knew the second Trump tweeted the term “locked and loaded” what he meant. That he was ready for a military strike against Iran if and when it became clear that they had been the ones behind the drone attacks on Saudi oil. To suggest anything else is ludicrous.
Unfortunately, doing just that has become standard operating procedure in this administration. And for many of Trump’s strongest supporters, this is all totally fine. They are willing to suspend their common sense in support of their President. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist – ahem – to understand how slippery that slope is.