Friday, February 15, 2019

More popcorn, please!

I heard an announcement of a program to be broadcast on local NPR tonight, with the guest noting that, instead of headlines "Trump Caves" and "Trump Loses Fight," the President now gets headlines "Trump Declares National Emergency."  So much better, for Trump:

Legal observers expect the courts to impose an injunction on this national-emergency declaration as soon as it is made. Indeed, the president made the judiciary’s work easier on Friday when he admitted that he “didn’t need to do this,” a confession that there is, in fact, no ongoing national emergency. A judicial quagmire is the GOP’s fondest hope. That way, Trump can say he’s fighting for his wall in every possible way, and Republicans in Congress can cede their authority to check the executive branch by insisting that the whole matter is out of their hands. And all without ever having to expropriate private property along the border or prove the dubious efficacy of a physical wall. Everybody wins!

And how bad is it?

Let’s not mince words: Backing Trump in this moment is not the prerogative of an institutionalist, which the majority leader claims to be. It is the prerogative of a partisan operator motivated, above all, by deference to a fleeting political imperative: avoiding another government shutdown.

This is a moment of extreme national cowardice. America’s governing institutions are abdicating their authority in pursuit of expedience and amid a craven scramble to save face. A precedent has been established that all Americans, but conservative Americans in particular, will long regret.

I wish that were true, but I doubt it. (I mean honestly, why do we have government shutdowns in the first place?  What "institutionalist" justifies that idiocy?)   No sane politicians is going to declare a "national emergency" and impose universal healthcare or strict gun controls or sweeping mandates to correct climate change (what, ground all airplanes?  Stop the sale of gasoline?  End all ranching and livestock production?).  Not only would it not work, it would be a political disaster.  Trump isn't really doing anything by declaring a national emergency; he's getting himself out of a box he put himself in.  Prime evidence of that?

McConnell knows that's bullshit, but he doesn't care!  Abdicating authority in pursuit of expedience has been the function of politicians in Washington since Congress began.  Forget all that high minded rhetoric about "Profiles in Courage" who stepped up to save the Republic from enemies within and without, it's horse shit.  This is the way the Republic works:  lurching from crisis to crisis, near-chaos to near-chaos, with the press occasionally announcing a "constitutional crisis" on the horizon (on that issue today?  Crickets; although this is as close to the real thing as we've been since it was revealed Nixon had an "enemies list.").  I expect that end the GOP anticipates (courts tie it up, nothing happens, everybody wins a perception award) is true.  I also expect it will do the GOP no good at all (I heard a political commentator this morning say this is bad for Democrats, who will have to fight 2020 on immigration, which they don't want to do.  I wondered where he was last November.  Commentary is commentary, but it is not all created equally.).

Me, I can't stop it, so I'm just gonna enjoy the shitshow.

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