As I said yesterday, anyone who has watched this deeply dysfunctional President has come to the same conclusions Woodward attributes to Trump’s staff. But thanks to the very low levels of civic literacy in this country, it may not be apparent to everyone how profoundly his proposed actions violate the most basic of our constitutional premises.
A couple of examples from the Washington Post:
President Trump has long derided the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people” and lashed out at NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem. On Tuesday, he took his attacks on free speech one step further, suggesting in an interview with a conservative news site that the act of protesting should be illegal.
Trump made the remarks in an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller hours after his Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, was greeted by protests on the first day of his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that,” Trump said. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”
I rather doubt that the Daily Caller’s reporter asked the appropriate question: Are you aware that the First Amendment to the Constitution specifically protects the ability of citizens to “petition their government for redress of grievances?” (The Daily Caller is a website founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, former adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Hence my assumption the reporter didn’t confront the President.)
It doesn’t really matter. Since Trump has given exactly zero evidence of ever having encountered the Constitution–let alone understanding it–I’m sure a reference to the First Amendment would have fallen on deaf ears.
In another Post column, David Von Drehle addressed the President’s utter contempt for the rule of law.
Here’s a question I never expected to ask:
Should law enforcement officials ignore crimes committed by their friends and associates?
I grew up thinking the answer was a simple no. The figure of Justice, with her scales in one hand and her sword in the other, wears a blindfold to symbolize her impartiality. Carved in stone over the doors of the Supreme Court are the words: Equal Justice Under Law.
As I got older and saw a few things, I came to understand that justice, as meted out by humans, is imperfect. Yet the principle of the matter — the goal for which we should aim and the standard by which we should measure — remains the same. Impartiality. Equality. Fairness.
So why am I asking?
On Labor Day, the president of the United States used Twitter to express precisely the opposite idea.
Von Drehle was referring to Trump’s angry eruption at the indictment of “two very popular Republican Congressmen.” He clearly believes that the role of the Justice Department is political, that since both he and Sessions are Republican, the department should protect Republican wrongdoing.
I don’t know what’s worse–that Trump would have such an uniformed view of what “law” means, or that he was willing to tweet his ignorance for the whole world to see. As Von Drehle concluded,
Nineteenth-century orator Robert Green Ingersoll once wrote, “Nothing discloses real character like the use of power.” In his pity for Paul Manafort, convicted tax cheat; in his hatred for truth-telling “rats” and “flippers”; and now in his assertion that the law should exempt his political allies, Donald J. Trump is disclosing his.
Sixty percent of us, plus or minus, noticed.