“If my guy does it, it’s fine. If your guy does it, it’s not” is a recipe for disaster that was prepared and cooked to perfection with Trump’s election.

Previous Presidents bent the letter of the law to advantage, but there was rarely a sense that doing so was itself the point. Trump’s administration has gone to combative new extremes while ignoring or subverting congressional and court decisions on everything from implementing sanctions against Russia to banning immigrants from specific countries.

“Can Trump really do that?” is often asked by Americans who never realized how much of their government’s operation had become based on the honor system. Obama may have acted out of misplaced idealism and Trump act out of cynical self-importance, but the rule of law is harmed either way.