Norms

Excerpt

It is well-nigh incomprehensible that the President would call the Federal Bureau of Investigation to inquire about any pending criminal investigation. The norm is the generally and well-understood one: that the President, while responsible for the leadership of the Department and certainly able to dictate legal policy, including criminal justice policy, should refrain from any attempt to influence criminal enforcement decisions. The operative distinction is between setting the substance and priorities for criminal law enforcement and deciding on particular prosecutions. A president is certainly free to determine the former, and indeed that’s what the chief executive is elected to do. But the president should never attempt to influence the latter, for the simple and obvious reason that we would not want the most senior political figure in government deciding upon whom to visit the cost and potential ruin of criminal prosecution.

Fight over the Green New Deal

Excerpt

Trump and the GOP appear poised to spend the election attacking Joe Biden’s plan to create millions of high-paying jobs by falsely arguing that it will cost $100 trillion, and destroy all the cows, cars, and airplanes. The goal of these absurd lies is to distract us from the truth: He and his party have no plan to address the climate crisis aside from further lining the pockets of oil and gas executives. But the American people want climate action.

Demagogue-in-chief

Excerpt

Ridicule especially antagonizes the demagogue. It deflates the pretentious and the powerful. It reduces to human size those puffed up by their self-importance. It exposes them for who they are. It affirms the self-respect and dignity of the oppressed. Demagogues, lacking the capacity for self-transcendence, cannot see the ludicrousness and absurdity of their pretensions. They cannot distinguish between their inner fantasies and reality. They can belittle and ridicule others, as Trump does, with great cruelty, but they see nothing humorous about similar treatment directed at the self-created edifice of their own glory.

Military props

Excerpt

President Trump has demonstrated, time and again, that he has no qualms about using the military to advance his personal political ends. He routinely stages uniformed personnel as props for partisan speeches. He treats deployments like political theater, as when he dispatched elements of the 82nd Airborne to the southern border to stoke fears of an immigrant invasion. And he undermines discipline and unit cohesion, pardoning war criminals convicted by military juries.