I have been, and remain, skeptical of Trump critics who spend their waking hours lathering in outrage porn. Their insistence that the former reality-TV host is an autocratic tyrant capable of unraveling America’s elaborate system of checks and balances is laughable. Madison and Hamilton’s constitution is alive and well nearly 230 years after its adoption, and you can bet your last dollar that it will still be thriving the day Trump leaves office. While left-wing warnings about freedom’s flame being extinguished are as tiring as right-wingers declaring the death of freedom daily during the Obama age, this presidency demands vigilance to ensure that history will remember these partisan threats as empty.
Trump comes to office without the kind of political, military or legal background that would inform him on the importance of judicial independence. President Barack Obama leveled a shameful attack on the Supreme Court during a State of the Union address, but he never questioned the court’s authority to rule the way it did. Working the ref is one thing. Suggesting the ref’s calls should be ignored is quite another.
During his impeachment battle, President Bill Clinton and his wife lashed out at congressmen, senators, news anchors, talk show hosts, newspaper editors and members of the “vast right-wing conspiracy.” The Clintons counter-punched their accusers and engaged in a no-holds-barred battle for the presidency. But when the Supreme Court disbarred Bill Clinton from practicing law before that court, the president was more measured. He showed similar restraint after the Arkansas Supreme Court suspended his law license as well. Clinton the lawyer knew, even during his darkest political days, that fighting the judiciary was a battle that presidents should avoid. President Richard Nixon recognized that truth as well even in the final days of his presidency. Within days of the Supreme Court demanding the president turn over the tapes that would force him to resign, Nixon relented.