Archive for the ‘united states’ Category

Yeah, I suppose it was inevitable that sooner or later I’d have to write about… him: the walking excrement that currently occupies the big round room in the big white house.

I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to employ the phrase ‘the orange poltroon’ to describe Donald John Trump, but I was certainly unaware of anyone else using it when I started to use it in tweets. And I’d said for years that ‘poltroon’ was one of my favourite words so… anyway, I’m claiming it for the UK side of things.

I mean, sure, I’ve occasionally mentioned President Poltroon before on here; days after he was elected, I observed that he now had a power that genuinely scared me, and no, it wasn’t the power to obliterate countries leaving only a mushroom cloud in its place.

I’m only faintly surprised he hasn’t excercised the full extent of the power-that-scares-me already, that some maniac supporter hasn’t killed a federal judge, say… and received a pardon from Trump for doing so, or killed those serving on a grand jury investigating the orange poltroon, and then been pardoned by said poltroon.

Pardoned, I hasten to add, with no deleterious consequences for said poltroon.

For the current iteration of the Republican Party have made it crystal clear in their behaviour the past couple of years that, no matter what the orange poltroon does in office, they’ll follow the exact same strategy as they followed during the election campaign… once it became apparent that Trump was [going to be] the nominee:

That Trump is a racist misogynist bully, a sexual abuser, a fool, who rarely reads, knowingly plays to the worst of the worst, lies like he breathes, and wants to bang his daughter, is beyond doubt. His ego and his vanity were well known long before he ran for office, and no-one expected that to change after sixty million or so people marked their ballots in his favour.

And, sure, no one was overly surprised at the sheer venality expressed by others in the GOP who turned the supineness and submissiveness of the cowardly bully, when faced with a bigger bully, into a bloody art form. Partly because he serves their purposes, partly because of their contemptible fear that Trump will turn against them at any moment.

And, of course, having given him their support, they’ve got too much personally and politically invested to back down now.

But of all the norms that Trump has shattered, has ignored, has completely crapped over, what no one truly predicted however was the breach of the most basic norm of constitutional government.

The most basic, the fundamental, tenet of American government. No… not that he’d ‘do something unconstitutional’; it’s possible that any President could do that; that’s in part why the Supreme Court exists, and in whole why the impeachment power exists.

The fundamental constitutional norm that Trump’s pissed on from a huge height is something that John Ramm¹ was at pains to point out to students:

“The American system of government works as it should, and only works as it should, if and only if, each branch of government respects the authority and legitimacy of the others.”

And Trump doesn’t. It’s as plain as that.

There was a throwaway comment Trump gave in a recent interview which I was mildly surprised wasn’t picked up more, since it revealed so much. He’d been told – let’s face it, he didn’t read it himself – that the Presidency is covered in Article II of the Constitution of the United States.

Article II.

And it so obviously irritated him, so plainly irked him. That The Presidency wasn’t in Article I, I mean.

Because, despite the Constitution giving – obviously – different powers, different rights and responsibilities, to each of the three branches of government, Trump clearly believes with every fibre of his being that it shouldn’t. It’s beyond comprehension to him that the other two branches, Congress (the legislature) and the Supreme Court (the judiciary), are equal branches of government; he plainly believes that they’re not only lesser than the Presidency (the executive) but that they inherently hold less legitimacy and authority… because they’re lesser.

And that’s a tough position for him to even state, let alone argue… if the Presidency is Article II. I mean, he’ll try, obviously. Because he’s a fool. But even someone with his… unique kind of intelligence… will struggle.

His view of Congress, of members of Congress, of Senators, is transparent: he views them with contempt. All of them. The ones who hate him, the ones who profess to love him, those who condemn him, and those who support him. Because they’re not Presidents, because they’re not him.

And the message to Republican Senators and members of Congress isn’t: ‘if you back me, I’ll say nice things about you’; it’s ‘if you pieces of crap support me, I might not shit on you… today‘.

And they take that. They take it every day, and then come back for more.

I mean, when it comes to Republican members of Congress and Senators, who knows, maybe he’s right – practically, not morally – to treat them like that, because it’s bloody worked. And it continues to bloody work.

Even those in the GOP who once criticised him in the harshest possible language have all sucked at his teat since, and voted to pass legislation of which he approves. And without in any way repudiating their previous criticisms, they’ve pretended those criticisms were never made, those statements were never issues, the video of them doesn’t exist.

As for the judiciary, well, the orange poltroon’s expressed his contempt for how it operates in the US any number of times, while both praising and condemning the court system, and individual justices of the Supreme Court.

But again, remember that

“The American system of government works as it should, and only works as it should, if and only if, each branch of government respects the authority and legitimacy of the others.” 
 
Thirty five years ago, about now, during the impeachment of the hearings of them President Nixon, it was revealed that in Nixon’s secret recordings of what happened in the Oval Office, there was an 18½ minute gap. In the resulting litigation, the Supreme Court (an 8-0 decision, in US v Nixon) ordered Nixon in July 1974 to deliver tape recordings and other subpoenaed materials to a federal district court. He did so. he followed the Court’s ruling. And sixteen days later, Nixon resigned.

I’ve been wondering, since 2017, what happens when (not if but when) the Supreme Court rules against Trump on something big (‘Watergate 18½ minutes’ big, say) and Trump effectively responds ‘No. Now what are you going to fucking do about it?’

SCOTUS’ authority rests on the other branches respecting its legitimacy and authority.

And Trump doesn’t.

The other week, I went to see Michael Wolff being interviewed by Matthew D’Ancona, the former promoting his new book Siege, covering the second year of Trump’s [first] term in office, after Fire and Fury covered the first year.

 
Genuinely fascinating, and there was a Q&A afterwards; some good questions, some great answers.

So I asked the question above, what would happen if SCOTUS ruled against Trump on something huge, something genuinely important… and Trump effectively said ‘fuck you’ to SCOTUS.

Wolff paused a moment, thought of his answer, and then simply replied “I don’t know. But it’s a scary thought. And, personally, that’s why I think Robert Mueller ‘punted’ in the report, didn’t go as far as he could have, as he should have. Because he didn’t want to provoke, to create, that problem, what would be a genuine constitutional crisis.”
 
I’m not sure I wholly agree that Mueller did punt the report; genuinely think there’s strong arguments on both sides of that one, none of them conclusive.

But it’s certainly not something I wholly disagree with either.

I miss the days when the branches of government at least pretended to respect the authority and legitimacy of the others in public, and mostly did so in private.

Something else tomorrow.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.


¹my tutor in A Level “Government and Comparative Political Systems”, which I studied at Luton VI Form College (1980-1982)