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TOPIC: Donald Trump

Donald Trump 4 years 1 month ago #432

  • Sladuna
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June 2, 2020

Stephen Collinson and Caitlin Hu

'The President of the United States is not a dictator'

Donald Trump has always admired dictators.

On Monday, the US President turned federal security forces against a peaceful demonstration, so that he could stage a vain, chest-puffing photo op across the street from the White House. The move concluded with Trump posing for cameras, holding a Bible aloft in front of an iconic American church -- to the distress of its bishop. It was a transparent made-for-TV moment, meant to enshrine Trump as a “law and order” President amid a trio of national crises: spiraling protests over racial inequity, a pandemic that has left 105,000 Americans dead and a consequent economic collapse, none of which he appears to have a clue how to solve.

There’s often a thin line between tyranny and ridicule. Trump’s mini-march across Lafayette Square was at once one of the most bizarre and chilling moments in modern American presidential history. It was absurd because he was clearly playing out some kind of reality-TV fantasy of autocratic leadership -- all that was missing was a big military hat and a chestful of dubiously earned medals. But this is a person who holds sweeping power to seriously damage America’s civil political institutions. Moments before the photo op, federal police and reserve troops were ordered to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a peaceful crowd that looked nothing like the “professional anarchists, violent mobs ... arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters” that Trump condemned in the White House Rose Garden.

The strongman act comes as Trump seeks to distract from his botched handling of the pandemic and his inability or disinclination to confront America’s raw racial legacy exposed by the killing of George Floyd. Trump is now threatening to invoke an antiquated law to send federal troops into American states to restore order – whether state governments want help or not. Such a move would politicize the military and threaten the fragile balance of state and federal power that underpins the entire US political system. As it is, Trump is already inflaming America at a perilous moment -- though his buddies on Fox News laud his swagger, and the Trump base delights in it.

He could be just blowing off hot air. But the lesson of his presidency is that when Trump threatens to infringe the rule of law and the guardrails that have fettered the presidency for nearly 250 years, it pays to believe him.

Shortly after Trump's Rose Garden address on Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement: “The President of the United States is not a dictator, and President Trump does not and will not dominate New York state. In fact, the president does not have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American states. We respect and will guard the right to peaceful protest, and my office will review any federal action with an eye toward protecting our state’s rights."
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