The Value Of Trump

George Will finds a silver lining:

Executive power expanded, with only occasional pauses (thank you, Presidents Taft and Coolidge, of blessed memory), throughout the 20th century and has surged in the 21st. After 2001, “The Decider” decided to start a preventive war and to countenance torture prohibited by treaty and statute. His successor had “a pen and a phone,” an indifference to the Constitution’s take care clause (the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed”) and disdain for the separation of powers, for which he was repeatedly rebuked by the Supreme Court.

Fortunately, today’s president is so innocent of information that Congress cannot continue deferring to executive policymaking. And because this president has neither a history of party identification nor an understanding of reciprocal loyalty, congressional Republicans are reacquiring a constitutional — a Madisonian — ethic. It mandates a prickly defense of institutional interests, placing those interests above devotion to parties that allow themselves to be defined episodically by their presidents.

Furthermore, today’s president is doing invaluable damage to Americans’ infantilizing assumption that the presidency magically envelops its occupant with a nimbus of seriousness. After the president went to West Virginia to harangue some (probably mystified) Boy Scouts about his magnificence and persecutions, he confessed to Ohioans that Lincoln, but only Lincoln, was more “presidential” than he. So much for the austere and reticent first president who, when the office was soft wax, tried to fashion a style of dignity compatible with republican simplicity.

Fastidious people who worry that the president’s West Virginia and Ohio performances — the alpha male as crybaby — diminished the presidency are missing the point, which is: For now, worse is better. Diminution drains this office of the sacerdotal pomposities that have encrusted it. There will be 42 more months of this president’s increasingly hilarious-beyond-satire apotheosis of himself, leavened by his incessant whining about his tribulations (“What dunce saddled me with this silly attorney general who takes my policy expostulations seriously?”). This protracted learning experience, which the public chose to have and which should not be truncated, might whet the public’s appetite for an adult president confident enough to wince at, and disdain, the adoration of his most comically groveling hirelings.

Anything we can do to reduce the power and overreach of the presidency, and restores Congress’s sense of its own prerogatives and diminishes party, is to be lauded, even if it results from the behavior of an ignorant narcissistic lout.

Space Aliens

No, NASA is not hiring someone to protect the planet from them:

Though this should be abundantly clear by now—that NASA isn’t planning to launch an attack on aliens they don’t know exist—Shostak gets some colorful phone calls from those who want to believe.

“I have to say, people do call [me] and say, ‘Do you know anything about the Pentagon’s plans to defend Earth?’” he said. To be clear, Shostak does not know anything about ‘the Pentagon’s plans’ and thinks that even in some alternate reality where he did, the Pentagon wouldn’t waste time or money trying to save us. So please stop calling him.


Why Everyone Hates The Press

Mary Katherine Ham explains:

The article ends as if to purposely reiterate how little the industry is interested in learning: “In a recent exchange with the White House press corps, then deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made hay over the retraction of a Trump-related story by CNN—an example of a news organization owning up to a mistake, as it should—and urged reporters to focus instead on a video by James O’Keefe, a right-wing provocateur whose work has been widely discredited.”

This paragraph embodies the problem. How is it that the media doesn’t realize it, too, has credibility to lose? It, too, has been repeatedly discredited—not just for one story, and not just in the eyes of angry Trump supporters. It should want to rectify that. But Warren ignores these mistakes just as the press itself often does. He gives them a giant pass on the job of understanding America in 2016 and a glancing mention of fabulist Jayson Blair. He congratulates them for doing the basics to correct a mistake, and then expects all Americans to laud the Redfords and Hoffmans while condemning the O’Keefes of the world.

The press is constantly saying this president is losing credibility without recognizing it is in the exact same predicament. New York Times editor Dean Baquet sits in his office adorned with “mock front pages…parting gifts from colleagues at the many papers where he has worked” while Trump roams his golf course properties admiring his mock Time magazine covers. These guys, and the institutions they head, have much more in common than they’d like to think. Stop admiring yourselves and deal with your problems.

I would also note that Donald Trump and Barack Obama also have a lot more in common than their admirers (and particularly the admirers of the latter) would like to admit.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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