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What he asked

October 14, 2017

Ben Sasse asks Trump’s supporters a good question, following the President’s tweet about licensing TV news networks. (Something that doesn’t even exist, of course.)

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But the larger point about Trump & his tweeting is how he manages to keep everyone reacting to him. I have to wonder whether he’d shut up if everyone just ignored him. So I liked Charles Cooke’s article asking Trump to keep quiet (even though I think it’s a futile request).

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“Just shut up and president,” as I’ve said before.


The day Trump kicked over the tweet-hive again, I happened to get email from the Cato Institute about Gene Healy, who wrote The Cult of the Presidency. And the attitude toward the presidency that Healy describes is the root of the matter, IMO. This situation’s been a long time coming.

The Imperial Presidency in the Age of Trump

“I alone can fix it,” Donald J. Trump proclaimed during his unlikely rise to the White House: “all of the bad things happening in the U.S. will be rapidly reversed!” It’s proven to be a bit more complicated than that.

More than eight months into the Trump presidency, the office that’s supposed to be “a symbol of our national unity” is the source of bitter division, as the president vents his frustration with Twitter attacks on Saturday Night Live skits, “so-called judges,” and the United States’ nuclear-armed rivals. Abroad, where the president’s authority is alarmingly unchecked, Trump has already launched some 20,000 airstrikes, threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation, and refused to rule out a “military option” in Venezuela.

And yet, Donald Trump didn’t invent the Imperial Presidency: he inherited it. As Gene Healy warned in his widely acclaimed book, The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power, the “most powerful office in the world” has become far too powerful to entrust to any one fallible human being. Moreover, “We, the people” bear an enormous share of the blame for the presidency’s transformation into a constitutional monstrosity. As Healy argues, it is the public’s demand for presidential salvation from all problems great and small that drove that transformation: “the Imperial Presidency is the price of making the office the focus of our national hopes and dreams.”

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