This has elevated the ridiculousness on both sides by an order of magnitude. Those on the left insist it’s illegal and unconstitutional. It’s neither. Democrats and media commentators glibly talk about how this use of a “gestapo” makes us a “police state” no different from China. That’s absurd, not least because the law is on the administration’s side (so far), but also because China’s police state is competent. If the Trump administration wanted to act like China, it would round up (or kill) all of the protesters, violent and peaceful alike.

I have no principled objection to federal agents protecting federal property from rioters and arsonists. What bothers me is that the administration’s tactics and motives are all about manufacturing a political narrative that helps Trump’s campaign, elevates the status of the rioters and arsonists, and gives critics license to prattle on about dictatorship.

Trump long ago proved he doesn’t really want to be a dictator. (That requires too much work.) He wants to be a TV star. What’s outrageous isn’t that Trump is using federal agents on American soil, or even that he’s doing it without an invitation from local politicians. What’s outrageous is why he’s doing it.

When China crushes protests, it crushes them because that’s the goal. Trump has the opposite goal. He wants more protests, more riots, because his campaign thinks it needs to make facts on the ground fit its “law and order” sloganeering and exaggerations.