Here sits a man whose recollection of American history leads us directly into The Twilight Zone... #TrumpTeachesHistory pic.twitter.com/SEX7ZD9HUs— Out Of This World (@50Trek) May 2, 2017
And sometimes he’s just bullshitting. When the president is asked about some policy topic, his default response is to say he’s “considering” it. This often results in breathless headlines that are followed up with no discernible action, such as the president’s vows to bring drug prices down or his statements that he’s open to comprehensive immigration reform.And Exhibit A:
Jesus people. He's not considering anything. If you ask him about X, he will say that he's looking at X. https://t.co/bXnc6OeFZj pic.twitter.com/SkFxDGym8Q— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) May 1, 2017
The commonality here is that it’s now clear that Trump’s statements on policy do not signal the culmination of a serious policy and political debate inside the administration. Indeed, they might not signal much of significance at all. So the best approach when Trump says something unusual in an interview is probably to wait and see whether it’s followed by actual substantive action from the administration or Congress.*
On Sunday, a day after President Trump railed against the press at a rally marking his 100th day in office, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said of amending the Constitution to expand libel law: “I think it’s something that we’ve looked at, and how that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story.”
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer doubled down on Monday.
“Is that a project that is currently being worked on by the counsel’s office?” the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush asked, referring to Priebus’ statements. “Can you tell me the status of that? Who is pursuing that?”
“I think the chief of staff made it very clear that it’s something that is being looked into, substantively and then both logistically, how it would happen” Spicer said. “But that’s nothing new. It’s something the President talked about on the campaign trail.”
“Is the counsel actually—” Thrush attempted.
“I will not go into it,” Spicer said.
And in that light reconsider this:
This, needless to say, should set off everyone’s alarm bells. If this isn’t really what Priebus meant, he should be given the chance to categorically disavow it. The plain meaning of the words, on the record, is that abridging or abolishing the 1st Amendment is something the Trump White House is currently considering.And this (granted, this one borders on absurdity anyway):**
In your book you discuss the idea that Donald Trump will have his own version of Hitler’s Reichstag fire to expand his power and take full control of the government by declaring a state of emergency. How do you think that would play out?It's true, we should be able to take seriously what the President says, but we can't anymore. Not for the next four years, anyway. We have to see the entire Administration in this light: words don't mean anything. Trump said as much: he stands by nothing, and he values deeds above verbiage. Funny thing is, the Presidency runs on words; all of government does. It is the source of words that mean something: we call them "laws."
Let me make just two points. The first is that I think it’s pretty much inevitable that they will try. The reason I think that is that the conventional ways of being popular are not working out for them. The conventional way to be popular or to be legitimate in this country is to have some policies, to grow your popularity ratings and to win some elections. I don’t think 2018 is looking very good for the Republicans along those conventional lines — not just because the president is historically unpopular. It’s also because neither the White House nor Congress have any policies which the majority of the public like.
This means they could be seduced by the notion of getting into a new rhythm of politics, one that does not depend upon popular policies and electoral cycles.
Whether it works or not depends upon whether when something terrible happens to this country, we are aware that the main significance of it is whether or not we are going to be more or less free citizens in the future.
My gut feeling is that Trump and his administration will try and that it won’t work. Not so much because we are so great but because we have a little bit of time to prepare. I also think that there are enough people and enough agencies of the government who have also thought about this and would not necessarily go along.
These are people who would screw up a two-car funeral; but then tell you it was the biggest funeral in the history of funerals, and the best funeral ever! And that is the beginning and the end of what we are going to see out of D.C. for the next four years.
Now, about the states......
*Case in point being the news today that Trump backed away from everything he was demanding in order to fund the government for a week, or even until September. Everything.
House and Senate appropriators unveiled the text of the more than $1 trillion spending package early on Monday morning. Despite threats of drastic cuts to vital and varied domestic programs outlined in President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget” for fiscal 2018, the more than 1,600-page bill concerning funding through the end of September provides increased spending for the National Institute of Health, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, Pell Grants to assist with college tuition, and the federal judiciary — which Trump has attacked on numerous occasions. Additionally, Republicans in the House agreed to continue fully funding Planned Parenthood and saved nearly 99 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s current level of funding.
Republicans’ plan does not provide funding for Trump’s proposed border wall construction and only about half the amount sought by Trump for a military buildup.
**and yes, references to "Reichstag fire" violate Godwin's Law.