You didn’t think I would let the events of last Friday night pass without comment did you? If you did you haven’t been paying attention to my writing! Let’s explore.
If President Trump is talented at anything it is playing the media cycle. The fact that he let three controversial pieces of news break late on a Friday when most of the press and the nation were preoccupied with what would prove to be a fatal storm closing in on Texas wasn’t an accident. Trump took advantage of a tragedy to thumb his nose at American legal principles, while simultaneously throwing two bones to his base and betraying them on another account. Trump’s base is important to him but in the final analysis all he cares about is himself, his money and a select few relatives. He views all else as a means to a self-profiting end.
Trump “formalized” his transgender military ban. The exact terms of which are murky to say the least. It will discriminate against a class of Americans. It will make the jobs of the most senior military commanders more complicated especially because Trump wasn’t competent or brave enough to be specific leaving much in grey areas. The ban played well with Bubba who doesn’t realize how many holes are in it. Base placated, problem that didn’t exist solved (a Republican specialty of late), and the news was buried in a literal storm.
The announcement of Sebastian Gorka’s firing (make no mistake, that is what it was) also “leaked” Friday night. Gorka is a strange radical right figure who was working in the White House. In an effort to shield myself from a lawsuit: Let me just say that finding something good to print about Gorka is beyond my ability and would be in violation of the name of this blog. Gorka is a fixture on Fox News and the radical right loves him. If Trump were courageous and honest with his base he wouldn’t have buried this.
The big news was something we had been anticipating: Trump pardoned Joe Arpiao. The former Maricopa County (Arizona) Sherriff lost his last bid for reelection and was awaiting sentencing on his criminal conviction for contempt of court. The case stemmed from his repeated violation of citizens’ civil rights and refusal to desist even after he had signed a court agreement. Like Trump, Arpiao is a xenophobe whose word isn’t worth the air it is spoken through and signature isn’t worth the paper it is written on. However “Sherriff Joe” is a radical right wing hero and was one of the original Trump for President supporters.
The presidential pardon is in the original Constitution and has survived without amendment for 228 years. George Washington was the first President and first President to exercise his pardon powers. There have been two pardon controversies of consequence in my lifetime but none that approached this level of disregard for the underlying principle of law. Shortly after taking office President Ford pardoned his predecessor, President Nixon, in an effort to heal the wounds Watergate had inflicted on America. In his waning day President Clinton pardoned Marc Rich who appeared to have a contribution link to the President. I’m no Nixon fan and realize most of my readers disagree with me, but I can understand and accept what Ford did. In a worst case scenario Clinton allowed a rich white guy to buy “justice”. If you study America’s criminal justice system the fact that it is a very different system for rich white males than for the rest of the population, while unjust, is far from a revelation. Neither Ford nor Clinton buried the story nor used a pending human tragedy to shield their action.
By pardoning Arpiao Trump is sending a message to any xenophobe who violates the law that as long as you are a Trump ally the President of the United States and his pardon power has your back. Does the pardon problem stop with xenophobia or does it include corruption in his inner circle? Who will he pardon next? Michael Flynn? Paul Manafort? Jared Kushner? Donald Trump, Jr.? Himself? (The constitutionality of which is unsettled law.) Will he try to undermine the Mueller investigation via presidential pardon?
When the occupant of the Oval Office will use his pardon power to openly defy the courts and announce it as a killer storm is bearing down on a state that overwhelmingly voted for him we have a President who considers himself above the law, is a coward and is devoid of any consideration of morally correct behavior. The darkness over America has nothing to do with the recent solar eclipse or a storm named Harvey!
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