As every toddler knows, bigger is better, whether that’s two scoops of ice cream (versus one for everyone else), a border wall, or a nuclear arsenal.
And that was President Trump’s reaction during a July meeting with military and national-security leaders about the nuclear arsenal, too, according to NBC News. In total, he sought a tenfold increase in the U.S. store of nukes:
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
Trump’s aides were taken aback: “Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup.” Officials said there’s currently no plan for a massive buildup.
If Trump’s approach to nukes and ice cream alike is childlike, this story is the latest example of how Trump’s aides treat him like a child too. In the case of the nuclear weapons, advisers seem to have taken Trump’s outburst as bizarre and dangerous and quietly moved to suppress it. In the past, aides have disagreed with presidents’ judgments as unwise, worried that their drinking would on occasion render them dangerous, or expressed concern that they were suffering from senility. Nor is it uncommon for a politician’s critics to describe him as childish and unprepared—decades before Lloyd Bentsen slammed Dan Quayle as “no Jack Kennedy,” Richard Nixon warned that Jack Kennedy was not prepared for the presidency.