In case you were lucky enough to miss it, after Judge James Robart temporarily blocked President Trump‘s Executive order halting immigration from seven Middle East nations teaming with terrorists, nationwide, the President responded on Twitter yesterday:
When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!
Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!
The last one inspired expressions of alarm and horror:
Senator Schumer: “POTUS’s attack on Judge Robart shows a disdain for an ind. judiciary that doesn’t bend to his wishes & lack of respect for the Constitution.”
Bernie Sanders: “Trump has to learn the very important truth stated by Washington AG Bob Ferguson: “No one is above the law, not even the president.”
Representative Jerry Nadler: ” No “so-called.” Judge Robart is a GWB appointee who was confirmed 99-0. We are watching closely your contempt for our Judicial Branch.”
Evan McMullin—remember, the Independent who ran to be President of Utah?—wrote,
“Disagreeing with a court decision is fine, but undermining the legitimacy of a judge and the Judiciary Branch is a threat to the Republic.”
(Somehow I just don’t think that a President who has for three months watched an entire political party seek to undermine the legitimacy of a duly elected POTUS–him–with protests, riots, recounts, an Electoral College rebellion, calls for impeachment, calls for military coups, Hitler comparisons, accusations of incest with his daughter, insanity, and conspiracy theories involving Russia will take too seriously the argument that three words in a tweet is a “threat to the Republic.” I could be wrong…)
Naturally bloggers, pundits and social media users have reacted to the three words with even more intensity.
1. Stipulated, for the President to do this is unpresidential, unhelpful, self-destructive and stupid. It would be one thing if he tweeted a dazzling legal analysis explaining why the judge is all wet, but this President doesn’t do dazzling, or, really, analysis.
2. It was also completely predictable. Is this how it’s going to be? Every single time he sends out one of these juvenile “neener neener, you have a big nose!” tweets in response to some perceived insult or setback, the left’s Outrage Machine is going to go into over-drive? Really? That is just plain incompetent. First, we’ve seen this junk for more than a year; we know the man is careless with words; we have seen that he has the restraint on Twitter of a heroin addict. Words from this leader just are not as significant as words from previous Presidents, because he doesn’t use language with care or even thought at times, and by now everyone knows it. That’s not good for him, as it forfeits a considerable source of influence and power if he were careful with words, but we know he’s not. So the news media and political foes only make themselves look hysterical and dishonest by acting as if what the President tweets or says should be taken literally. It can’t be. Second, since everyone who is honest about it knows his words are almost randomly generated, what does that tell us about critics who pretend otherwise? It tells us that they are dishonest and trying to frighten people in order to seed civic unrest for political gain.
3. By all means, chide the President for being petty, unprofessional and un-Presidential. Claiming that this tweet “undermines’ the judiciary, however, is hysteria. It undermines his Presidency.
4. Real, serious attempts to undermine the judiciary by a President have happened in the past. The worst was Andrew Jackson, who famously defied the Court when he wanted to remove Native Americans from their Georgia land and the Supreme Court ruled he could not. “[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it,” said Andy, and proceeded to inflict the “Trail of Tears.” Yet the Republic survived. Then there was President Obama, who not only attacked a Supreme Court’s decision but did so in a nationally televised State of the Union address, saying,
“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections.”
He was also wrong on the law, and misstated the Opinion, which did not approve of foreign companies spending in elections. Even Politifact, which usually was easy on Obama, agreed that he “was exaggerating the impact of the ruling.” It called Obama’s attack on SCOTUS on the Citizens United decision “Barely True.” Indeed, throughout his administration, Obama tried to bully the judiciary when his policies were on the line. That was a dangerous precedent, though one which the doomsayers reacting to Trump’s tweet chose to shrug off at the time. [See previous post, conveniently enough]
5. University of Chicago law professor William Baude offers a objective and balanced analysis in which he cautions that President Trump’s “so-called judge” tweet raises a “red flag,” because he believes that it is generally dangerous for elected leaders to question the judiciary’s authority. But Baude also concedes that Trump’s tweet contains “just a hint” of that insinuation. “[I]n general,” he says, “I do not think we should read too much into the President’s tweets . . . .”
6. Again, I’ll invoke the Julie Principle here. Sing the following to the melody of “Can’t help lovin’ that man o’ mine,” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein (From “Show Boat”)…
“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
Trump gotta make silly tweets, who knows why?
Can’t keep flipping out every time…..”
If another President with different documented habits in line with tradition and the office sent that tweet, it would be more meaningful. The news media and critics certainly should criticize the President for debasing his office and undermining his own credibility with such overtly juvenile tweets, but the should not pretend that. coming from him, they are more significant than they are.
7. President Jimmy Carter drove me to distraction appearing in public dressed like a peanut farmer. I felt that this harmed the prestige and image of the Presidency, but it really just hurt Carter’s Presidency. Reagan came in and erased Carter’s new standard by always dressing the part of President: no permanent change had taken place. President Obama’s involvement with NCAA basketball tournament brackets and performing on cable comedy shows similarly troubled me, but I can’t see President Trump making such trivia a permanent part of the Presidency. Similarly, his dumb tweeting doesn’t have to be a permanent scar on the office, as long as the next POTUS has the sense and dignity to avoid it.
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