Donald Trump outdid himself today, and I most certainly don’t mean that as a compliment. His press conference in the wake of signing his executive order for the delusory border wall was part coke ramblings, part tween-girl pity party, and partly the work of a man who distrusts intelligence briefings but believes “news” from fever-swamp bloggers.
It was, as always, quite a performance, so long as you don’t confuse the hyperverbal machine-gun show put on by a capering, jiggling Trump with him articulating a reason for his actions. This was a performance for his press-hatin’ yokels, a display of Trump’s feral cunning about how easily satisfied the corrupt remnants of the Republican party are by his clownish media tantrums.
The declaration of a phony national emergency represents the biggest false flag in recent American political history. Sure, Ann Coulter peeks through the curtains seven times a night to spot the oncoming brown horde, but no serious person believes this rises to anything near the level of an actual crisis.
An extra-constitutional order based on a false crisis is something much worse than just a feeble PR play by a frustrated, failed president itching to do something after being slapped by Nancy Pelosi.
No, it’s one more step on the path that we few remaining conservatives have warned you about time and time again. Trump and Trumpism have changed America to a country defined not by laws, rules, norms, constitutional boundaries, and small-d democratic governance but by the winds, moods, and impulses of the Trump thugocracy.
Watching Trump seize on an emergency order with the passion he normally reserves for his nightly bucket of KFC was ugly, but unsurprising. He’s never embraced the role of American president, and has chafed whenever told he’s anything less than a king.
Trump loves the l’état-c’est-moi fuck-youism of the move, because it’s how he imagines his role models behave as he toadys up to the world’s Putins, Kims and Dutertes.
The Donald, and his horde, love the conceit of him as a warlord, the tough guy, badass. The Trumpternet is full of romanticized black velvet-quality illustrations of a muscle-bound Trump riding on tanks and smiting the unbelievers. A 300-pound man with ample moobs panting on a golf cart doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi. He needs this action to keep the dictator image alive.
It's funny, until it isn't.
I spoke to Republicans in both the House and Senate today, including several who are strong supporters of the president. Every single one thinks the executive order is an absolutely terrible idea. As policy, the emergency order is a flaming disaster. Nothing good will come of it, and they all know it.
Set aside the precedent-setting nature of just how Trump is applying this emergency declaration and you'll see why all of them recognize the power he's handing to future Democratic presidents. They know it. They're terrified of it.
And, as always, they won’t do a thing to stop it.
Even in the face of an obvious, blatant, and reckless constitutional affront like this order, they still mutter meekly, vastly more afraid of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Donald Trump tweeting something mean about how they’re something less than a full-throated xenophobe. Asking them to stand up, uphold the oath they swore, and behave with even a scintilla of courage is now entirely laughable.
Even after all the destruction Trump has wrought on the Republican party, there’s still a streak of bullheaded, absurdist optimism among its old members carrying his coat now that something will stop him. Relying on the courts to step in and prevent Trump from engaging in this seizure of power is a long shot, and one responsible members of the legislative branch can’t afford to bet the country on.
The terrible and consequential action today—and a GOP response that at its bravest amounts to pathetic and indifferent “resistance”—is just Donald Trump clearing away one more barrier to authoritarianism. Sure, it’s funny watching him rant, but we’re laughing our way over the cliff.
No tool goes unused in politics. The moment Trump opened this gate was the moment Republicans permanently gave up their ability to call for controls over an executive branch running roughshod over the Constitution.
When a Democratic president takes office in 2021 or 2025 and decides to act, we’ve given them every excuse. After all, they’ve got so much work to do and they’re just not getting their objectives through a stubborn Congress. It’s an emergency, after all.
Call me old-fashioned, but the conservatism I grew up with wasn’t about owning the libs, ensuring media tears, and determining the correct ethnic or racial composition of the country according to Ann Coulter’s metrics. It wasn’t about expanding the power of the state and the executive.
Conservatism has made way, and the Constitution has been demoted from sacred to optional.
Donald Trump may act the fool and the bully, but his actions are no joke. They open the door for more violations, more depredations that bode nothing but ill for the republic.
He can and should be held to account, but I can guarantee you one thing: that won’t come from the Republican party.