BOSTON (CBS) – Let’s face it, we just love to be scared, no matter what the actual extent of the threat in question really is.
Overreaction to potential risk is a popular national pastime.
And unfortunately, we in the media too often respond to this cultural instinct by feeding you horror stories that just don’t live up to their billing – think the hidden danger in your toilet bowl, or the invisible horror lurking on that hotel-room bedspread.
The 48 hours of frenzy that have followed President Trump’s foolish nuclear sabre-rattling don’t quite fall into that category – after all, with nuclear war there’s zero margin for error.
But quite a few folks do seem freaked out by the nuke talk.
So let me take a stab at reassuring those who actually want to be reassured.
The military power of the commander-in-chief, while formidable, is not absolute, and never has been.
Should a president wander too close to the precipice of disaster, there is ample reason to think that saner adults around him would step in.
During the last days of the Nixon administration, with the president in emotional meltdown, the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff took steps to make sure, as the Washington Post reported, “no orders were given to military units outside the normal chain of command.”
And just a few days ago the AP reported that Generals Mattis and Kelly “agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on…orders…from the White House.”
So, don’t freak out too much.
Saner heads are on hand, and can be counted on to prevail.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: