Trump to cops: Don't be too nice when you put these thugs in the back of the paddy wagon

I’ve started instinctively grading him on a curve for stuff like this despite my better judgment that that amounts to capitulation on what standards of presidential decorum should be. You don’t want the president, especially a strongman president, winking at law enforcement that he’s got their back if they get rough with suspects. Police brutality is a wound on the body politic; it doesn’t need Trump using it as a laugh line.

He does use it as a laugh line here, though — he’s either joking or kidding on the square — and compared to some of his zestier tough-guy pronouncements as candidate, telling cops that it’s okay if a thug bumps his head getting into the back of a squad car is about a two on the Trump Richter scale. This is a guy who endorsed waterboarding as punishment, who considered paying the legal fees of fans who took a swing at protesters, who actually boasted onstage at a Republican primary debate that he’d get the military to obey illegal presidential orders to get rough with terrorists. Every brick removed from the normative wall restricting state violence should be grieved, but any cop who’s looking for presidential license to smack suspects around surely inferred that license from Trump before today. For fark’s sake, last fall he was still defending what he said in 1989 about executing the Central Park Five based on their confessions even though DNA evidence had exonerated them years ago. Does any cop anywhere doubt that if it were up to Trump whether the police could use the third degree to pry confessions from suspects, it’d be back in practice tomorrow?

Besides, not that this absolves Trump for what he said, but this is still the creepiest thing to come out of anyone in Washington today:

Exit quotation via David Frum: “President who has exposed his family to grave legal jeopardy never considers that it might be his son’s head that is cracked on the trunk.” Yeah, when you’re worth $10 billion, you don’t have much reason to worry about your kid getting muscled by a cop. You would think a populist would be more sensitive to that.