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A White House not worthy of respect

Melvin B. Miller | 2/16/2017, 6 a.m.
Americans believe that the president of the United States is due the greatest show of respect. Political commentators and the ...
“There’s nothing real about Trump’s latest reality show.” Photo by Dan Drew

Americans believe that the president of the United States is due the greatest show of respect. Such deference results from the office he or she holds rather than the president’s political views. Political commentators and the media have been trying to be deferential despite Donald Trump’s bizarre views and inappropriate conduct. But finally the lid is off. On a recent CNN Jake Tapper Show, Sen. Bernie Sanders declared that Trump is a fraud. This statement by a highly regarded senator enables the public to criticize the president without being attacked for impropriety.

It will not be easy to defeat Trump and the policies he endorses. Do not underestimate the power of the presidential bully pulpit. And when the president has no commitment to truth, the executive office will be an imposing adversary. Those committed to saving the nation will have to be willing to spend the time and effort to learn how things really work if they are to become effective adversaries.

This knowledge will empower the people because Trump, surprisingly, seems not to understand the basic principles of American democracy in accordance with the limits of power proscribed by the U.S. Constitution. Trump’s failure to understand this caused him to issue an unconstitutional immigration order on travelers from seven Muslim nations (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen).

Trump seems to believe that his powers as president are essentially unlimited. His lawyers asserted that his authority on immigration and national security are not subject to judicial review. That demonstrates Trump’s insensitivity to the shared powers of the three branches of the American government: legislative, executive and judiciary. In this case, the courts had every right to consider the complaint of the states of Washington and Minnesota that Trump’s order was improper and had damaged them.

From the peoples’ perception, the real horror was the rejection of refugees and the inability of travelers to rejoin their families, but that alone would be insufficient to serve as the basis of a lawsuit. At the last minute the administration tried to soften the impact of Trump’s order by admitting those with green cards. The court ruled that Trump would have to demonstrate that prospective visitors from the banned countries are an imminent danger to the U.S.

The case got before the court not because of the suffering of those denied admission to the U.S. but because of the economic damage to the plaintiff states because foreign students, scientists, businessmen and college professors were kept away.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s opposition of the U.S. federal district court’s injunction of the enforcement of Trump’s travel ban. Trump lost. However, it is possible for Trump to issue another immigration order that will meet constitutional requirements. And those opposing Trump must remain ready to contest any unreasonable directive.