Wineke: Flynn calls for insurrection

Michael Flynn
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

MADISON, Wis. — So, what do we say when a retired general, a man who was once in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a man who was lauded as a great American patriot just a few days ago by the President of the United States, calls on the president to suspend the Constitution and demand the military approve a new election?

General Michael Flynn, pardoned by President Trump after pleading guilty in federal court to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials before the inauguration of Trump, did pretty much just that this week.

He retweeted a full-page ad in the Washington Times asserting that America is on the verge of a “shooting” civil war because Communists and Socialists are about to take power in this country.

The ad calls on Trump to suspend the Constitution and impose “limited” martial law so that the Army could oversee a new election and, presumably, return the president to power. Flynn, in retweeting it, noted “Freedom never kneels except to God.”

None of this is going to happen, of course. The nation’s military leaders are not going to engage in an insurrection.

I’m more worried about the fact that a man who could retweet nonsense like that has been able to rise to the top levels of American government. Flynn was not only an Army general (and someone considered to be extraordinarily competent), he oversaw one of the country’s major intelligence operations. Trump previously named him National Security Advisor before firing him because Flynn lied to Vice President Pence.

Even more than that, I am concerned that, so far as I have been able to determine, not a single Republican leader has come forth to denounce the idea that the president should try to seize power by military coup.

We have lived through things like this before. The John Birch Society, which still exists, gained notoriety for calling President Eisenhower a Communist. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, another Wisconsin contribution to insanity, terrified much of the country for several years in an anti-Communist witch hunt.

But neither the John Birch Society nor McCarthy ever called for the suspension of the Constitution. And neither had the tacit endorsement of the nation’s president.

The advertisement that Flynn retweeted noted ominously that the nation is awash in guns which might be pulled out to create a new civil war should Trump not remain in power.

Several weeks after this country voted to elect Joe Biden president, we still have a large and vociferous movement to reject the election and allow Republican lawmakers to choose Trump instead.

Again, I don’t think this is going anywhere, but I would feel better if one of the nation’s two major political parties seemed to think calls to insurrection are a serious matter.