During the past several decades the most absurd comment made by any president–even when out of office–came from Richard Nixon. Speaking to David Frost in the famed interviews Nixon stated, “Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
Over the past days, however, Nixon’s undemocratic statement has been replaced by a new anti-Madisonian democracy outrage. Trump stood before God and national reporters while stating this jaw-dropping line.
“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”
Not so fast, Orange Mussolini! I am 57, but my memory of civics from my youth still informs me that our power-sharing arrangement is found in the Constitution’s 10th amendment where it makes clear that any power not specifically given to the federal government resides with the states. Any move by Trump to step into his self-delusional role as even more of an autocratic figure, one he pines for on a regular basis, will be met with the fastest legal roadblocks that any judge has ever fashioned.
Over the past week I have been listening to law professors on NPR, and reading Op-Ed pieces on this subject. Almost to a person, there is an agreement that the coronavirus pandemic, though without mercy, does not meet the criteria of a war. Therefore the National Emergencies Act under which, the autocrat to be, declared an emergency does not grant unrestrained powers.
I had to smile (and yes, snicker) when even John Yoo, the infamous creator of the legal justification for the use of torture during the George W Bush administration voiced opposition to Trump’s statement. He even stated the “federal system reserves the leading role over public health to state governors” and only “they will decide when the draconian policies will end.”
As for my husband and me, we can assure Trump he does not have total authority over anything in our lives. We will abide by the guidance from experts, and will not mix again in society until it is safe. His re-election and the national economy are not anywhere near the top of considerations when it comes to our health and well-being.
After researchers have found the antidote to COVID-19 I would hope they can next find one for the second most vexing problem in this nation. That would be the verbal diarrhea Trump spews daily, as of late in front of the national press.
But then again the voters are going to toss his large butt out of the White House come November. Trump dithered and failed to act with this pandemic, and as a result, voters are going to make his election loss of such a magnitude that it will rival impeachment when reporters sum up his life in their lead paragraphs.
And so it goes.