The God-King is constitutionally entitled to the Oval Office. He is not entitled to an acquiescent Congress…. (More)

“Helps good white people (check); hurts people (check)”

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin had no patience with the story that the God-King was “struggling” over whether to rescind President Obama’s DACA order that protects DREAMers:

Some in the media take seriously the notion that he is “conflicted” or “wrestling” with the decision, as though Trump were engaged in a great moral debate. That would be a first for Trump, who counts only winners and losers, never bothering with moral principles or democratic norms. The debate, if there is one, is over whether to disappoint his rabid anti-immigrant base or to, as is his inclination, double down on a losing hand.
Moreover, if Trump really thought he had to end DACA for constitutional reasons, how can he justify a six-month extension? (Why not 12 months? Two years?) And surely, if he really wanted Congress to act, he could insist it be tied (like Harvey funding) to the debt ceiling or, alternatively, to the funding bill to keep the government operating.

No, if Trump cancels DACA, it will be one more attempt to endear himself to his shrinking base with the only thing that truly energizes the dead-enders: vengeance fueled by white grievance. And it will also be an act of uncommon cowardice. (“Should Trump move forward with this decision, he would effectively be buying time and punting responsibility to Congress to determine the fate of the Dreamers,” writes The Post.) Dumping it into the lap of the hapless Congress, he can try evading responsibility for the deportation of nearly 800,000 young people who were brought here as children, 91 percent of whom are working. (And if by chance Congress should save DACA, it will be Trump who is the villain and they the saviors, an odd political choice for a president who cares not one wit about the party.)

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall wasn’t buying it either:

The God-King isn’t ‘conflicted’ over whether to depart DREAMers. He’s ‘conflicted’ over how to do it without paying a political price. Rubin was unsparing in her conclusion:

However this turns out, the GOP under Trump has defined itself as the white grievance party – bluntly, a party fueled by concocted white resentment aimed at minorities. Of all the actions Trump has taken, none has been as cruel, thoughtless or divisive as deporting hundreds of thousands of young people who’ve done nothing but go to school, work hard and present themselves to the government.

The party of Lincoln has become the party of Charlottesville, Arpaio, DACA repeal and the Muslim ban. Embodying the very worst sentiments and driven by irrational anger, it deserves not defense but extinction.

And she loaded up again a day later:

President Trump in three very different settings over the past few days reminded us how unsuited he is for the job. Increasingly, his presidency is defined by blatant lies, an empathy deficit and a frightful lack of ability to navigate through dire international crises. Each has been on display.

In the lies department, none quite measured up to his accusation that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. All but cloddish sycophants like Sean Hannity knew this was preposterous. On Friday evening (when else?) the Justice Department acknowledged in a court filing that there are no records “related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.” Presumably, some taxpayer money and government personnel were diverted to track this down, which in and of itself is reprehensible.

That was hardly his only lie. She lists a few more and links to a full list, and continues:

Then we are reminded that Trump does not think and act like normal humans. He grins and mugs his way through a do-over visit to Texas to visit victims of Harvey. Soon things take a bizarre self-congratulatory tone. “It’s been very nice. It’s been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing,” Trump said. “I think even for the country to watch and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.” The word he was looking for, perhaps, is “heart-breaking.”

In the midst of a tragedy – in which the media behaved in exemplary fashion – he finds it necessary to denigrate reporters. (“Think of it, almost 11,000 people by going into winds that the media would not go into,” Trump said. “They will not go into those winds, unless it’s a really good story.”) The language of empathy is foreign to him. His unhinged narcissism deprives him of the ability to convey warmth or genuine emotion. (He is either furious or gleeful, the former when he feels victimized and the latter when he feels vindicated.) He remains the most tone-deaf modern president.

And there’s the situation with North Korea, which the God-King seems determined to turn into a war:

And most worrisome, we see in his reaction to North Korea’s possible hydrogen bomb test his inability to maintain for more than one scripted remark a serious, sober tone that inspires confidence among our allies.[…

In addition to threatening to pull out of a trade deal with South Korea (now of all times?), Trump seems unable to show solidarity with friends or avoid feeding the cycle of warnings and threats. His over-the-top public rhetoric does not intimidate Kim Jong Un; it appears to provoke him.

She concludes:

One is left, still, agog at Trump’s dishonesty, narcissism and inability to project the calmness and discipline we expect from a president. Those who thought he’d grow in office or who perpetually think he’s “pivoting” or “becoming presidential” have engaged in dangerous delusion. One wonders how long we can muddle on with a president this unsuitable without provoking a constitutional or international calamity.

It’s a fair question. I have to nosh a macadamia to fortify myself for the news every day. It’s become that depressing.

“Can’t we collect bold men enough…?”

The Post’s Robert Kagan offers a reasonable solution:

With the impeachment and removal of President Trump a long shot at best, there is another way to provide the country some protection from our unfit president: congressional government. The idea may seem far-fetched in this era of the “imperial presidency,” but there have been times in the nation’s history, especially in the decades after the Civil War but also to a lesser extent during the 1920s, when Congress ran the show on many critical matters and the president dared take no action without the approval of powerful committee chairmen.

Kagan details how Congress reined in Andrew Johnson, who tried to sabotage the post-war reforms proposed by Abraham Lincoln. They succeeded, even if they couldn’t remove Johnson from office:

Congressional power even reached into the Cabinet. The secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, shared Congress’s aims and carried out congressional policies in the South, not Johnson’s. When Johnson fired Stanton, the House voted to impeach him. Johnson escaped conviction in the Senate by one vote – thus showing the difficulty of removing a president even in extreme circumstances – but for some months Congress controlled the most important national policies and during that time prevented the president from undermining the achievements of the war.

Kagan says it’s time for Congress to take charge again, and proposes structural changes that Congress can take to do that:

Congressional government would not have to address every question. On matters where Republicans and Democrats sharply disagree, there could be a truce or partisan business as usual. But on matters where they both see a threat to the nation’s interests – from the president’s encouragement of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and racist, law-breaking local government officials, to his appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, to his efforts to impede criminal probes – Congress can wield the power of the purse. It can prevent a secretary of state from destroying the United States’ diplomatic corps. It can provide support to officials who refuse to carry out irresponsible and dangerous directives. It can find some compromise on a few fiscal matters to prevent a demagogue from undermining the U.S. economy by defaulting on the debt.

All this could be done informally, with different majorities naturally emerging on different issues, as has already occurred. But it would be better if it were formal. In 1865, Congress established a bipartisan Joint Committee on Reconstruction to review and formulate policy toward the former Confederate states. Today, one or more joint committees could be formed to oversee those areas necessary to protect the country from the president’s most dangerous excesses – a joint national security committee headed by the chairs and ranking members of the foreign relations, armed services and intelligence committees, for instance. The virtue of this arrangement would be that Congress would not merely react anew to each new threat. It would have a body in place that would be ready to respond, one that carried greater weight than individual committees and would therefore be more effective in deterring dangerous presidential actions.

And yes, that’s entirely within congressional prerogatives. The question is not whether Senate and House Republicans could do this; they can. The question is whether they will, and Kagan says it’s in their self-interest:

Could Republicans possibly agree to such an arrangement? The party’s leaders should at least think about it. Trump ran against them in 2016 and is now once again firing up his base to attack them. Party leaders do have another option besides being Trump punching bags – depriving him of as much power as possible while they can. It’s a risky strategy, but a little bravery in the short term might pay off later. Is there any bravery to be found in Congress? Or as the great Radical Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens asked in the spring of 1865, “Can’t we collect bold men enough to lay the foundation for a party to take the helm of this government and keep it off the rocks?”

Of course wingnuts will howl; they’re howling already. And they’re wrong. The God-King is constitutionally entitled to sit in the Oval Office, but he is not constitutionally entitled to an acquiescent Congress. Just ask Barack Obama.

“The thing about people who lose presidential elections is that their star tends to fade”

Meanwhile, Gizmodo’s Tom McKay seems upset that Hillary Clinton won’t just disappear:

On Sunday evening, former secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton endorsed Verrit, a “media platform for the 65.8 million” who supported her candidacy, immediately creating a minor Twitter firestorm.

Clinton’s decision to hawk Verrit is regrettable for a number of reasons, including that this site looks like a terrible bet in an already over-saturated media economy which is shedding platforms and publishers left and right.

Verrit’s underlying concept is simple: Users are able to package quotes, factoids and other bits of text into easily shareable social media cards. The cards come with a seven-digit authentication code which can be verified on the website, supposedly ensuring social media users will be able to check to see the information contained within is accurate.

Verrit seems like an interesting idea. McKay notes that similar ventures have flopped before, but that’s true of pretty much everything. Maybe Peter Daou and Clinton can make Verrit work. Maybe they can’t.

And then McKay gets to his real complaint:

As for the long-term, dedicated userbase, look: Many, many people are extremely angry about the outcome of the 2016 elections, and there’s growing evidence that it might not have just been a mud-slinging dirt fest but actually subject to Russian interference and possible collusion by members of Trump’s team and family.

But there has to be a future for politics beyond 2016, especially for the Democratic Party, which is still reeling and has yet to rally around a coherent strategy that can translate its anger over the new administration into electoral momentum. The thing about people who lose presidential elections is that their star tends to fade – and this goes double for Clinton, who lost to a guy formerly best known for racism, selling as-seen-on-TV steaks and a lengthy parade of business disasters.

In that, he joins a long list of people who think Clinton should vanish. You know, like other losing presidential candidates whose “star[s] tend to fade”:

Since the beginning of 2009, more than 1,500 people have appeared on five Sunday news and political talk shows: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, Fox News Sunday and State of the Union. Many are familiar faces in Washington, where lawmakers, consultants and pundits routinely sound off on the week’s news, while others come from the worlds of entertainment and sports. Researchers at American University have collected more than 9,000 appearances. Below is a listing of those guests, excluding network employees or contracted regular guests.

The list was compiled in mid-2014, and tracked appearances starting in January 2009. And guess who was at the very top?

Yep, Sen. John McCain with 97 guest spots, an average of once every three weeks.

Ahh, but he was still a sitting senator, you say. Okay, so what was Rick Santorum’s excuse? He left the Senate in 2007 and couldn’t even win his party’s nomination in 2008, yet he appeared 43 times from 2009 to mid-2014, an average of once every six weeks.

McKay added “this goes double for Clinton,” but what he really meant was “this applies only to Clinton.” That blatant double-standard – the so-called “Clinton Rules” – is a big part of why we’re stuck with the God-King….


Photo Credit: Zach Gibson (Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts