Interesting article in the NYT by Adam Liptak. "Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say." I read this and I go, no shit. It took you until June to figure this out? I guess only some lawyers are hot-tempered and Jeffersonian. "Be sure to wear a brown shirt so I know who to punch in our street brawls," is what I was saying, like nine months ago. I could have had a baby in the time it took Adam Liptak to figure out that Donald Trump could threaten the rule of law. Anyway, slow and methodical Adam Liptak is now helpfully pointing out to the citizens of the world that Donald Trump could threaten the rule of law.Of course, I'd already seen and read the article. I read The New York Times. Does anyone blog NYT things more than I do? I chose not to blog it. First, every word of the headline annoyed me. That's not to say that I turn away from what annoys me. Quite the contrary.
I notice he only cites Republicans and libertarians in his article. That's one of my favorite rhetorical moves! Find somebody on the other side who agrees with you, and cite the shit out of them. If Al Sharpton ever said, "Obama is an ass," I'd be citing Al Sharpton as a smart thinker. "Even the Reverend Al Sharpton, who has studied the words of Christ, says that Obama is an ass." And all the judges would be going "point," except for the French guy going "touché."
In fact, an obvious riposte popped into my head immediately: All Presidents threaten the rule of law! That's supposed to cause you to understand the levels of my annoyance at the headline. I don't like the "could," since mere possibility is already built into the word "threaten." Any governmental power can be abused, so there is always a threat. Don't back off and portray the threat as mere potential. The threat is omnipresent.
Let me just quote James Madison, Federalist 51:
If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.The other level of annoyance is, as my riposte makes clear, that the headline singles out Donald Trump. What about Barack Obama? What about Hillary Clinton? But I settled down and read Liptak's article and Obama's name did come up:
Republican officials have criticized Mr. Obama for what they have called his unconstitutional expansion of executive power. But some legal scholars who share that view say the problem under a President Trump would be worse.So, I didn't blog it yesterday, but — prodded by Saint Croix — I still like my original gut-reaction snark: All Presidents threaten the rule of law!
“I don’t think he cares about separation of powers at all,” said Richard Epstein, a fellow at the Hoover Institution who also teaches at New York University and the University of Chicago.
President George W. Bush “often went beyond what he should have done,” Professor Epstein said. “I think Obama’s been much worse on that issue pretty consistently, and his underlings have been even more so. But I think Trump doesn’t even think there’s an issue to worry about. He just simply says whatever I want to do I will do.”
Mr. Trump has boasted that he will use Mr. Obama’s actions as precedent for his own expansive assertions of executive power.