If so, the joke’s on you. If there’s any ancient tale that presaged the start of the Trump Era, it’s the Voyage to Lilliput in “Gulliver’s Travels.”
Gulliver-like, Trump finds himself tied down by a thousand tiny strings, paralyzed by micro-people he can barely detect. Because of their combined power, he can’t do much of anything. If it’s the system vs. Trump, the system is winning, bigly. But it isn’t Berserkeley radicals or marching feminists in pussy hats who are leading the charge to #resist. Resistance to change is as natural in Washington as cherry blossoms in spring.
Since being promoted from private citizen to president, the only thing Trump has exercised undisputed authoritarian control over has been his Twitter account. And even that mysteriously seems to go silent at the exact times his aides are being badgered with questions about his latest tweet.
Thanks to two judges (Derrick K. Watson of Hawaii and Judge Theodore D. Chuang of Maryland) who didn’t star in a hit reality TV show, aren’t the most famous dudes on Earth and don’t have 27 million Twitter followers, Trump’s latest executive order restricting immigration from six countries with major terrorism problems is on hold.
The judiciary is a check on the president. Trump’s predecessor found that out, too, when the Fifth Circuit court upheld a lower court order that blocked Obama’s immigration plan (which would have shielded 5 million illegal aliens from deportation). There’s no such thing as doing an end-around the system (or, if you like, the Swamp).
Even with his party in control of both houses in Congress, Trump is finding major limits to what he can do legislatively. The American Health Care Act is not going to pass (without major changes) because, as Trump himself so memorably put it, health care is “an unbelievably complex subject.” The Jenga game that is ObamaCare is so wobbly that removing a single block could cause the health-care system to come crashing down. Which is why Republicans can’t agree on whether AHCA leans too far in the direction of the free market, or not far enough.
Passing a budget? Hey, guess what? The president can’t spend a dime without Congress. As Marco Rubio so cruelly, but accurately, put it: “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” Marco may still be little. But Congress is still big.
Liberals should have had more respect for our national institutions than to think that one man could simply have trashed them all. Yet The New York Review of Books called Trump an autocrat in a Nov. 10 story that warned, “Institutions will not save you” and said Trump was the new Vladimir Putin. Read the rest of this entry »