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Memories of the 28th Century

Trump? Who Cares?

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There seems to be a line of thinking in America that leads toward monarchy. Many people are fascinated by monarchs and things that are regal. The British royal family are reported in the press almost as if they were the monarchs of the U.S.A., even through we dumped that bunch two hundred forty years ago. But many people like the pageantry, regalia, and odd customs that go along with monarchy. There are even some people in the U.S. who think that the president has monarchial powers. Unfortunately, one such person may be Donald Trump.

I found the 2016 presidential campaigns to be the worst yet. The foolishness started more than two years before the election. Some countries manage to elect people after campaigns of only a few months, but that makes too much sense for the U.S.A. And the campaigns seemed to concentrate on matters that weren't relevant to the presidency. Just to clarify the matter, the president of the United States is a public administrator who carries out the laws and acts of Congress. The president has a few powers, but those are mainly ways of administering laws. There are a few iffy areas where the president has been allowed Signiant latitude in power; this is especially true in the field of foreign policy.

The Constitution specifies the president's powers in foreign relations in
Article II, Section 2:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Clearly the president's powers are quite limited, but presidents have stretched their powers well beyond the point of being constitutionally valid. In foreign affairs that was done largely because the Senate and the president never found ways to share the power on a regular basis beyond the appointment of ambassadors and other officials, and the president does receive foreign ambassadors, so he also negotiates with them or appoints others to negotiate.

But that is only one restricted area of government. The president only has the power to carry out the laws in areas where Congress has the power to legislate. Or, to be more succinct, the presidency is not a powerful office, even though some have tried to make it powerful. Several presidents have tried to rule by edict, but the courts negated the executive orders that exceeded the president's power in those cases where someone sued.

Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants some laws enacted, and apparently he wants to do some other things with or without congressional action. We have to watch him to make sure that he won't try to impose his preferences on the country in ways that do not follow the Constitution. For example, he opined that people who burn flags as protests should be imprisoned and lose their citizenship. The courts have held that burning the American is a legitimate act of protected speech, and Congress hasn't passed a law to alter that, and a statute does not alter a constitutional right, so Trump's preference there won't go very far.

He has already shot from the hip in regard to foreign policy when he called the president of Taiwan and in speaking about that drone that the Chinese picked up. He has to be chided for both those actions, especially since he will continue to be a private citizen until January 20. Trump may have gotten away with a lot of questionable actions as a developer, but the stakes are a little higher for the president. He could get away with not paying suppliers, because they wouldn't sure for the amounts involved, because recovering the money would cost more than they would get. That's not how it works for the president. Countries can't cancel debts by declaring bankruptcy, as Trump did several times in business.

I don't know what, if anything he will do, but I doubt that he will serve his full term, and I think it is more likely that he will resign than that he will be impeached, but there's a good chance of impeachment also. He will quickly learn that there are laws that restrain the president from throwing money to friends without following the legal requirements. He already learned that he will have to sell his stake in a hotel on land leased from the federal government. It isn't as easy as it was for Harding's Teapot Dome friends.

If the people of the U.S.A. want a monarch, then they should make me Emperor.


  1. MANICHAEAN's Avatar
    Thank you Peter for what I believe in corporate circles is termed a "cold eye review."

    I say this because I find, (most probably like many), caught up in a whirlwind of how to be objective about this individual. On the face of it he appears; ill educated, extreme, contradictory, naive, impulsive, and constantly playing to whatever prejudice in the American psyche that will bring sought after applause.

    Yet, there is a cunning in his make up. He has reduced the press to impotence by his footwork; whether it be tweets at 3 am, not holding much in the way of press conferences, constantly and ruthlessly changing his policies, or adapting his emphasis as occasion demands.

    At the current juncture, he is a loose cannon enjoying his own exuberance without any real responsibility. But as you so aptly point out, he will soon be up against constitutional restraints. He will get prickly, huff and puff, but to no real avail. Those that are vehemently against him; and from what I understand, there are many well entrenched to spoil and block, he will have one hell of a drawn out fight.

    It reminds me of one of those 19th century retorts, " Sir you will either die on the gallows, or of the pox," the response to which was " It all depends sir on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
    Updated 12-27-2016 at 03:11 AM by MANICHAEAN
  2. PeterL's Avatar
    I'm glad someone appreciates this one; it is saner than the papers are these days.

    If Trump were a nice guy, then I would feel sorry for him, but he is an arrogant halfwit. Not many years ago my net worth exceeded his, and I believe that will again be the case. If he were humble, then he might accept that, but he'd rather mock anyone who does bow to him. I don't know how long he will continue to play the game; we will see.