Opinion

SCOT LEHIGH

Trump’s so-called presidency

US District Court Judge James L. Robart earned the ire of President Trump by issuing a temporary restraining order that blocked enforcement of the president’s executive order for a travel ban.

\United States Courts/EPA

US District Court Judge James L. Robart earned the ire of President Trump by issuing a temporary restraining order that blocked enforcement of the president’s executive order for a travel ban.

A “so-called” judge?

A “very, very dishonest” press failing to report on terrorist attacks for insidious reasons of their own, while spreading fake news and polls to fool the public?

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Hmm. Now what’s that time-honored political rule?

Oh yes: Puppet-string Pinocchio presidents who fib in glass White Houses really shouldn’t throw stones. After all, if there’s anyone who deserves a “so-called” appended to his title, anyone whose morphing mendacities justify the adjective dishonest, it’s one Donald John Trump.

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He’s also a man who shamefully demeans the legitimacy of other government officials who counter his actions, and who tries to rally public opinion against them with irresponsible claims.

It’s behavior one would expect of a tin-horn tyrant-in-training, not the president of a country that once led the free world. Of course, Trump apparently doesn’t believe in any sort of American exceptionalism. As we now know, he sees no moral difference between the country he misleads and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The action that occasioned Trump’s denunciatory tweets was the temporary restraining order federal Judge James Robart, appointed by George W. Bush, issued on his travel ban. “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted on Saturday. On Sunday, he was back on the Twitter attack, writing: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

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Now, considering the deference usually accorded the president in this area, the Trump administration may well prevail in court. Still, there has to be some rational basis for government policy. And given its clumsily cobbled nature, the ban on travel from countries whose entrants have not been responsible for terrorism here, and the confused and chaos-creating way the administration rolled out this executive order, it’s hard to see it as an intelligent response to real-world risk.

In seeming response to that setback, Trump has ratcheted up his rhetoric. On Monday, he claimed the press purposely isn’t covering terror attacks. Perhaps he’s wondering why the “Bowling Green massacre” that Kellyanne Conway told him about — and no, it wasn’t a mere slip of the tongue — hasn’t gotten more publicity.

About the best possible spin one can put on the early actions of this humbug flea circus of an administration is that Team Trump is laying down markers that will later let him argue he tried to fulfill his absurd campaign promises. (The alternative: that the president is a political Captain Queeg.)

Consider: Even if the courts block his travel ban permanently, the controversial episode will have made Trump look as though he were battling to carry out those commitments. And if part or all of the ban survives the court challenge, Trump could then make a few tweaks in current policy, claim that the big problems have been fixed, and pose as a getting-it-done executive.

The same is true of his executive order on his border wall. Trump no doubt knows he can’t get Mexico to pay for the wall, but it’s better to push ahead and pretend — and perhaps have Congress or the courts block him — than admit it was all so much palaver.

But though Trump’s easily gulled loyalists may well buy all of that, most of America is now registering its disapproval. And — mirabile dictu — Trump’s shameful attacks on the judiciary are even starting to rouse some Republicans not named John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or Susan Collins from their dogmatic slumber.

And yet, given what we now know about this peevish, petulant, narcissistic president, a man seemingly incapable of admitting he’s wrong, this is probably going to get a lot worse before it starts to get better.

Scot Lehigh can be reached at lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh.
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