Love my country, love my city, love the democratic process, do not love my president . . . a blog about the 2020 RNC coming to town
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain
At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Gold Star parent Khizr Khan gave a rousing speech in defense of immigrants and in support of Americans’ right to practice the religion of their choice, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Khan’s son, Cpt Humayun Khan, was killed in a car bombing in 2004 while serving in the US military. Donald Trump had made Muslims and immigrants a focus of his odious campaign rhetoric, and Khan – affirmed by the deafening roar of the crowd – was having nothing of it.
“Donald Trump . . . Have you even read the United States Constitution?” he asked pointedly. “I will gladly lend you my copy.”
Mr. Trump did not take Mr. Khan up on his offer. Shortly after assuming office, he attempted to implement his long-promised “Muslim ban” in a hastily announced executive order, one that ignited stunned chaos across America. Unsurprisingly, that version of the order was deemed unconstitutional, and a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Supporters of President Trump argued that any president should be able to act in defense of the country; given Trump’s order did not specifically name Muslims, but rather targeted countries with majority Muslim populations, it should be allowed. But in court deliberations the intent behind the law could be considered, and the President’s many declarations – combined with Rudy Guiliani’s clarification that the order was meant to be a Muslim ban (if they could just figure out how to do it legally) – set the stage for subsequent roadblocks.
Is it too much to ask that an American president read/familiarize himself with a document that underscores our democracy? Unsurprisingly, it appears that every other president has, and somewhat proudly. Barack Obama liked to refer himself as a “constitutional professor,” a title that was met with some derision by actual tenured profs, since Obama was *only* a constitutional “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School for eight years. (Sigh. Why is “tan suit” immediately coming to mind? Where is the bar currently; it seems to have fallen completely through the earth and hurled into space out the other side.)
Of course, an expectation for Trump to read the Constitution would require that he . . . read. Which some advisors have claimed he does not, in spite of his “very, very large brain.” The idea that an American president should be able to tolerate some amount of processing and analysis via printed words seems, ironically, a no-brainer. But Trump has blown off daily briefings, historically a mainstay of providing information critical for our national security, saying he didn’t need them because he was “a smart person.” Of his distaste for reading these materials, his former economic advisor Gary Cohn remarked, “It’s worse than you can imagine. . . Trump won’t read anything – not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers, nothing.”
To be fair, others have noticed that he does read certain things, most notably articles from the press that are compiled by his staff. So at least he is a reader of newspapers . . . or was, before he began canceling the government’s subscriptions to them last week. Bummer. (Although the only papers on the outs are the ones that ever criticize him, so that’s awesome. What’s the point of a free press if not to lavish praise on the supreme leader, amirite?)
If President Trump is not a voracious reader, he perhaps represents the majority of the American people in this respect (it makes me sad to type this). It would appear that many of us cannot be bothered to do this one thing, even when it’s directly tied to the health of our democracy. All I know for sure when I hear people say “Russia hoax” or “witch hunt” or “total exoneration” is that they clearly have not read The Mueller Report. For those who think my take – so wildly different from, say, Fox News analysis – is suspect, let me offer some Cliff Notes. Here’s one fun part, that I’ve summarized*:
Although President Trump was aware of a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian contact who offered disparaging information on Hillary Clinton, he repeatedly told aides not to publicly acknowledge related emails, and personally dictated a statement (released by Donald Trump Jr.) saying the meeting was about adoption. As Hope Hicks and other advisors recognized that emails about the meeting contradicted these statements and would likely be leaked, they urged the president to disclose that information. At least three times Trump directed them not to do that. Multiple times he claimed publicly that he didn’t know anything about the meeting . . . that he was fashioning spin around behind the scenes.
(from The Mueller Report, Vol II, pg 106 *but please don’t take my word for it!!!!)
Apparently, hollering “Fake News” and publicly denying knowledge about something you were fully involved in is just considered media strategy – as long as you don’t make those statements under oath, or withhold related documents to the Special Counsel when he requests them. The American people can decide for themselves if they care if Donald Trump lies repeatedly, because these recollections are all compiled and recorded, along with the correlated documents, in the published report available to every citizen . . .
. . . who is willing to read it.
Ah, but now my bias is showing. And not just that of the liberal Democrat; perhaps more importantly is the partiality of the English major, the writer, the lover of books. Not everyone has the time or inclination to pick up a 448 page tome with 1,000+ footnotes (but maybe don’t comment on its findings, then-?). Plus media bias is a real thing, as is confirmation bias. It can be hard to know what/who to trust when reading about politics and political figures.
To this conundrum I have a suggestion (which is, in every way, the polar opposite of reading The Mueller Report): Go straight to the source.
Oh, but you’re not on Twitter; or you know he just goes on there to own the libs and act crazy; or you find that part of his deal pretty distasteful, you’d rather just focus on judges and the economy. But if you’re a citizen who choses to defend this president, it’s reasonable to take some time to absorb what he is doing every day – not through the lens of the liberal media, or the Deep State, or your snowflake friends.
I believe if you checked it out, you would likely land where I have regarding his behavior and your loyalty to him: He does not deserve you.
Speaking of Twitter, I recently came across a tweet by Neera Tanden who implored every American to read the devastating testimony of the Pompeo-hired Republican ambassador Bill Taylor regarding the Ukraine mess. To which I thought, oh hell. What are the chances? Will the American people read the transcript of this important statement? Probably not. Even if it turns out to be crucially important to the impeachment inquiry.
Ah, impeachment . . . another constitutionally legit exercise.
As for Trump, his Constitution-bashing “Greatest Hits” album – with favorites like Do the Muslim Ban, Media Is The Enemy (of the people), Democrats Overthrow Elections /Impeachment Blues—is ever growing. Just last week he referred to the “phony emoluments clause” . . . THAT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION.
Paging Khizr Khan: Someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue needs to take you up on your offer, STAT!!
Actually, an entire country needs to as well.
“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood
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