OPINION: Trump is manic, lashing out. Obama, the Bushes, Clinton and Carter should speak up.

By Chicago Tribune

Aug. 17–President Donald Trump seems manic, swatting at scandals like he’s wearing a suit of jelly in a late-summer swarm of horseflies.

His Twitter feed has reached new levels of fury and paranoia, his words even more discombobulated than usual.

Maybe it’s the slow churn of Robert Mueller’sRussia investigation. Or the rapid-fire release of damning audio collected by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, a loathsome character who learned from the worst.

Whatever the reason — maybe the horseflies are eating at him — I sense the walls closing in on our yeller-in-chief. And that’s dangerous, as we saw this week with his vindictive decision to pull former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance.

Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Trump, as is his right. At least that used to be his right before we had a president who is totalitarian-curious.

Trump’s fragile ego and fear of the Russia investigation has him lashing out at people like Brennan, doing whatever he can to shut them up. Pulling the former director’s security clearance won’t quiet him, but it might intimidate others who rely on a security clearance for their post-government jobs or as a means of accurately advising current government officials.

David Kris, head of a security and technology firm and a former assistant attorney general for national security, wrote in The Washington Post that “the president’s action harms national security. Intelligence agencies rely on outside advisers, often former government officials, to provide advice and assistance on an ad hoc or continuing basis. Those former officials need security clearances to perform this service.”

William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and the man who planned and oversaw the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, denounced Trump’s decision in a note — directed straight at the president — published in the Post: “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”

He continued: “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation. If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken.”

Then 13 former top intelligence officials who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents released a statement condemning Trump’s “ill-considered and unprecedented remarks and action” against Brennan.

The seven former CIA directors, five former deputy directors and one former director of national intelligence wrote that “we all agree that the president’s action regarding John Brennan and the threats of similar action against other former officials has nothing to do with who should and should not hold security clearances — and everything to do with an attempt to stifle free speech. You don’t have to agree with what John Brennan says (and, again, not all of us do) to agree with his right to say it, subject to his obligation to protect classified information. We have never before seen the approval or removal of security clearances used as a political tool, as was done in this case.”

These are grown-ups talking. They’re individuals of differing ideologies and political beliefs, but each has a much stronger claim to the title “patriot” that our bumbling, insult-hurling president.

Americans pledging allegiance only to Trump might want to start considering who, presently, is speaking up for the man and who is speaking against him.

In just a few recent tweets, the president has cited the vociferous support of a covered wagon full of snake-oil salesmen, from right-wing radio squawker Mark Levin to Fox News conspiracy twirlers Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.

Criticizing Trump’s creeping Nixon-ism are career intelligence officials who devoted their lives to protecting America and an admiral who helped bring down one of the country’s greatest foes.

That should be enough for any sensible person to see through the fog of Make-America-Great-Again delusion. But it most certainly won’t be.

Which is why we need more.

There are five living former presidents who have, for the most part, laid low during Trump’s presidency. It’s time for Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama to speak up, as one.

They won’t chasten Trump — that’s impossible. But their collective voice would provide some needed moral clarity, and it would boom: “This is wrong.”

It would demand attention and draw a line in America’s sand, a line we need.

Some grown-ups are starting to speak out. That’s good.

But there are five important grown-ups whose voices we could still use to hear.

This article provided by NewsEdge.