Wednesday 19 June 2019

Editorial: 'US President is supposed to fix problems, not invent them'

'World trade, world peace and the future of America are in the hands of a man who only knows one way, his way.' Photo: Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP
'World trade, world peace and the future of America are in the hands of a man who only knows one way, his way.' Photo: Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP
Editorial

Editorial

Those scratching their heads attempting to make sense of President Trump's behaviour can't agree on much.

On Capitol Hill, there is at least consensus on one thing. As they see it, Trump's critics take him literally but not seriously, while his supporters take him seriously but not literally. After that it's anyone's guess.

A few weeks ago, he was set to sign a deal to alleviate the government shutdown which this week becomes the longest in US history.

He now looks set to sidestep Congress and get funds for a border wall by declaring a national emergency.

The jury is out as to whether he even has the authority to do so.

Apparently there are 123 statutes that enable him to circumvent ordinary law once a "national emergency" is declared.

The rise of Trump has awoken America to the potential danger of concentrating so much unimpeded power in one office.

In 'The Art of the Deal', Trump explained: "My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward, I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing to get what I'm after."

As one caustic US commentator put it, it has all the sophistication of a cookbook that advises, "Put together a bunch of ingredients, and cook 'em until they taste fantastic. That's how you make great food." We are expected to accept similar half-baked notions as to how he might "make America great again".

No one knows how the shutdown will end, the one certainty is the incompetence will continue so long as it is tolerated.

His banging on a table and storming out of the room in a temper tantrum is straight out of any three-year-old's playbook.

Parents can smile indulgently at such infantile behaviour; yet when the most powerful person on the planet indulges in such pettishness, it's more alarming than charming. The word "No" has a devastating effect on the privileged scion of a millionaire.

And this does not bode well, as he is likely to hear it a lot more with Democrats in control of the House.

Now, with his trusted confidante and lawyer Michael Cohen about to give evidence before Congress and with the Mueller probe report hurtling at him down the tracks, expect more volatility and more dangerous distractions to divert attention.

World trade, world peace and the future of America are in the hands of a man who only knows one way, his way.

But should Trump go the "emergency" route, it could backfire. As former White House counsel Bob Bauer put it: "A president has the discretion to declare an emergency, not to create one."

That Trump has created one is not in doubt.

Mr Trump may push his emergency button at will. One suspects if there was also one marked "bewilderment", it would be in great demand in today's America.

Irish Independent

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