Trump vs. (Little-R) Republican Norms

Monday, October 17, 2016

Charles Krauthammer writes a timely warning about the hazards of electing Donald Trump to the Presidency, noting with particular concern his repeated calls to imprison his opponent:

What makes Trump's promise to lock her up all the more alarming is that it's not an isolated incident. This is not the first time he's insinuated using the powers of the presidency against political enemies. He has threatened Amazon's Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, for using the newspaper "as a tool for political power against me and other people. ... We can't let him get away with it."

With exercising free political speech?

Trump has gone after others with equal subtlety. "I hear," he tweeted, "the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!"

He also promises to "open up" libel laws to permit easier prosecution of those who attack him unfairly. Has he ever conceded any attack on him to be fair?
This clarion call comes after he expresses astonishment that the only thing Trump's opponents seem to be able to get excited about is his "locker room talk," and before his pointed criticism of so many in the GOP who are going along with this:
[T]he answer is not to start a new process whose outcome is preordained. Conservatives have relentlessly, and correctly, criticized this administration for abusing its power and suborning the civil administration (e.g., the IRS). Is the Republican response to do the same?
A Trump Presidency won't, "Make America great again," but it offers the disturbing and real possibility of making her much more like Venezuela or Russia, and for exactly the cultural reasons Krauthammer alludes to.

Clinton is very similar in many ways, but she seems to understand what republican norms look like and seems to have enough sense to value the appearance of following them enough not to openly abandon them.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

While I agree that Trump's rhetoric on the topic is definitely the stuff of which banana republics are made, so too is the multiple passes that the Clintons have received from our corrupt criminal justice system.

And as to Krauthammer's assertion that, "In America, we don't persecute political opponents"; has the man not been paying attention? Trent Lott. Rick Perry. The John Doe investigations in Wisconsin. And there are a lott (heh!) more where those came from.

The fact of the matter is that, as a matter of justice and self-defense, a tit for tat approach is required. Notice that the Democrats made exclusive use of the Special Counsel Statute for 20 years. But when it was finally used against a Democrat - Bill Clinton - the Democrats were willing to 'revisit the issue of Special Counsel'.

Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted. Her actions were not done in the execution of her duties as SecState, but in deliberate avoidance of accountability (FOIA) for her actions and in a wholesale scheme to hide her play for pay antics. This isn't garden-variety corruption. This is banana republic play. And frankly, every factotum in the Justice Department from Holder on down to Comey should face charges of aiding and abetting. (And, parenthetically, the same treatment should apply to the cabal around Lois Lerner, up to and including the IRS Commissioner.)

Two of my brothers have held top secret clearances. Had they been as cavalier as Clinton with their custody of classified documents, they would have been looking at decades in prison. If you recall my previous comment, the information that the LEOs were trying to coerce from me was the same things that Lois Lerner leaked. The punishment for that is 10 years in jail and $250,000 in fines for each instance.

So why should someone who is politically connected be allowed a 'pass' on prosecution? Doesn't this undermine the whole principle of "equality under the law"? And isn't that the essence of the banana republic that Krauthammer invokes with Russia and Venezuela?

As a matter of justice, Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted. Ditto Lois Lerner. That such a proceeding will have a salutary effect on other 'crats of abusive mien is merely a very nice consequence of doing the right thing.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


You make good points regarding the laws-are-for-little-people attitude of the Democrats. Perhaps a more worthy candidate than Trump would run on pursuing justice wherever it might lead regarding Clinton, rather than a promise/threat to imprison her.

Indeed, your recommendation for prosecution has a similar rationale as that that for Ford pardoning Nixon: He did so because the country had already been through enough, and he needed to begin restoring faith in the presidency. (Sadly, Trump would have no such motivation, if elected.) Context is everything. Thanks for speaking up.