Saturday, May 04, 2019

A President Begging To Be Taken Seriously

With all due respect to an arguably incomparable writer, Charlie Pierce is wrong:
Oh, no, it's not insane at all.  It is a warning.

Last November 18, Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" had a revealing exchange with President Trump:

WALLACE: Can you envision a situation, you talk about six more years. Can you envision a situation well into your second term where you think that you’re so good for the country and so essential for the progress of the country that you would try to amend the Constitution so you could serve a third term?

TRUMP: No, no.

WALLACE: Why not?

TRUMP: Just won’t happen, it’s not – I think the eight year limit is a good thing, not a bad thing

Of course President Trump wouldn't try to amend the Constitution. That would represent a legitimate effort to achieve desired results in a manner prescribed by the Constitution itself. However, not only did Trump not merely turn thumbs down (for whatever it's worth at two years out) on a constitutional amendment, he endorsed an eight year limit.  In old math or new, that would be 32 years.

That might not have been a slip of the tongue.  Matt Lewis, who picked up on the eight term limit, noted that when China's Xi Jinping became dictator for life, Trump gushed "And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

Lewis recognized "This was shtick, but humor can be a safe way to launch a trial balloon—or to inject an idea into the public sphere." The President, however, was not done, for on April 18 he

joked about serving more than two terms as president, telling a crowd that he might remain in the Oval Office “at least for 10 or 14 years.”

Trump made the comments on the same day that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report was released to the public.

At an event for the Wounded Warrior Project, Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, chief executive of the veterans charity, gave Trump a trophy to thank him for his support.

“Well, this is really beautiful,” Trump told the crowd in the East Room of the White House. “This will find a permanent place, at least for six years, in the Oval Office. Is that okay?”

After some laughter from the crowd, Trump continued: “I was going to joke, General, and say at least for 10 or 14 years, but we would cause bedlam if I said that, so we’ll say six.”

Trump also made a joke on the same topic last year. In a speech to Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago estate, he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for doing away with term limits.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said, according to CNN. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

Assuming President Trump was "joking" is foolish.  As Lewis had speculated about the praise for Xi Jinping, the President may well have been trying to shift the Overton Window or floating a proposal to see how it would fly.

Support for the latter intention is suggested by Trump's remark of six days earlier when he had stated

We’ve cut more regulations in a year and a quarter than any administration, whether it’s four years, eight years or, in one case, 16 years. Should we go back to 16 years? Congressman, can we have that extended? The last time I jokingly said that, the papers started saying 'he's got despotic tendencies!' No, I'm not looking to do it, unless you want to do it.

"Unless you want to do it." It's a leader asking to be asked, directly or indirectly, so that he has to take no responsibility for remaining in power.  It's what you wanted.  You begged for it.

That's no joke, and that's not insanity. It's someone getting increasingly more outrageous and paying no penalty while planning to consolidate power in a second term and realizing that omnipotence may be just one election away.

Share |

No comments:

Time to Relinquish the Stage

Senator John Fetterman is funny; also, wrong when he says Like I said, my man [Carville] hasn’t been relevant since grunge was a thing. ...