In case you did not live through or study the Nixon Watergate years, in case you do not recognize the obvious signs, the nation once again has a constitutional crisis on its hands.
Given the dystopian nature of the Trump White House and a complicit and spineless Congressional leadership team that sits on its hands because it cannot stand, we are not surprised.
But this time around, the troubles are far more complex – and more deeply insidious – than a bungled burglary and its subsequent criminal cover-up directed from the Oval Office.
Last Wednesday, The New York Times ran an anonymous, explosive and scathing op-ed essay from a senior White House official who essentially said President Donald Trump was incapable of performing his official duties and that he and others in the administration were deciding what presidential orders to follow and which to ignore. This is nothing short of an administrative coup and not what our democracy is made of.
We are not a fan of many Trumpian policies, his rude behavior, his lying, his courting of white nationalists, his embrace of foreign tyrants, his dismissal of our friends in Europe and Canada, his racism, his xenophobia, his lack of intellectual curiosity and abysmal absence of moral leadership. These, truly, are not normal or comfortable times with the president going off like a Roman candle at the slightest pique. But Donald Trump is the duly elected president of the United States. We respect the presidency, and unless this administrative insider and others find the courage to come forward, publicly, to state their case, then we have indeed become a banana republic. All that is lacking are tanks and armed militia circling the White House.
That a group of federal officials is claiming to be the defender of safe and sane policies – approving some, ash-canning others – while being disloyal to the president is both sanctimonious and arrogant.
The essay in The Times describes the president as impulsive, erratic, unstable, ill-informed and “anti-democratic” as well as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”
We would have thought that any person looking to serve the president would have been bright enough to pick up on those character flaws throughout an entire presidential election cycle. Evidence was littered all across the campaign trail and the candidate’s personal biography.
We have been hearing about the dysfunction in the administration for a while now. From author Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” to reporter Bob Woodward’s “Fear,” we know from reading that the White House staff, cabinet members and advisers – eager to tell their tales – are often left twisting in the wind as the president changes policy positions on a whim.
Yes, this president’s campaign is under federal investigation for colluding with Russia to disrupt our elections.
Yes, this president has been fingered by his former personal lawyer and “fixer” as an unindicted co-conspirator to criminal behavior.
Yes, President Trump is under federal investigation for conspiracy to obstruct justice.
And, yes, this is a president who willfully ignores the rule of law himself.
But none of that justifies a subversion of how our democracy and government work. Two wrongs do not make a right.
If these self-anointed defenders of America – imagining a heroic Paul Revere moment – were so bent on warning us all about the president’s behavior, why didn’t they use the 25th Amendment?
That’s the mechanism to remove a sitting president if a majority of the cabinet declares the president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. If these officials were so concerned with the prospect of an erratic president who has the nuclear codes, why didn’t they approach leadership in the House and Senate to impeach, convict and remove him from office? Is Congress that broken?
This is about the rule of law. Senior White House officials do not decide which presidential directives to carry out and which to ignore.
This senior advisor and, apparently, others gave up on America, on democracy.
Take heart, fellow citizens. Most of our institutions are working as designed.
The country is moving towards a genuine reconciliation based on fact, on truth. Our justice department is doing its job as is the free press. Facts are unfolding in a manner and in a time toward the opportunity to have our say.
The fall elections are on the horizon.
We the people “ordain and establish” our Constitution and government.
And it is we – not some cabal of self-serving senior advisors – who make this country work, for better and worse.
— The Register-Herald