The Trump presidency is overwhelmed and overwhelming

Yet the institutions that are supposed to check and contain an out-of-control executive also seem to be straining and sputtering in this new era. Trump has upset the normal partisan behaviors and balances that have obtained since at least 1994. And it’s as if without these guidelines, the members of other branches of government, or the press, no longer have a feel for the norms of their own professions.

The judicial rulings that have stopped the travel ban, for instance, are slapdash and illogical, and seem to be based more on perceived popular demand than on the law or the court’s duties. The 9th Circuit admitted that it took Trump’s campaign statements into consideration, a legal stretch that they did not have to take to get the desired order. The ACLU improbably claimed that the travel ban violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The press corps is also on tilt, constantly falling for fake stories that would damage the Trump administration. Like the hacking of election results in swing states. Or the mass resignations at the State Department that never happened. There are enough real humiliations to go around. But with the spread of these and dozens of other fake stories across mainstream media (remember the Russians hacking the electrical grid?), the atmosphere of the media is one of competitive hysteria.

Congressional Democrats can barely figure out what their role is.