I dedicate this column to the strict constructionists out there who supported Donald Trump in 2016, because they were concerned about executive overreach during the Obama administration. I offer my condolences to all of you.
Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday was such an abuse of executive power that it makes Barack Obama look like Herbert Hoover when it comes to executive action.
I have a part time gig as a political science professor, and when I teach Introduction to American Government and Politics, I spend the first few weeks discussing the Constitution. The pitch I make to my students is that you can’t play the game without knowing the rules and the Constitution is the rule book. Apparently, there wasn’t much concern about checks and balances in POS 101 at Trump University.
When I teach, I dutifully discuss the two famous axioms about checks and balances. “The power of the presidency is the power to persuade” and “the power of Congress is the power of the purse.” The new Trump doctrine is “steal the purse from Congress if you can’t persuade it to spend the money you want.”
For the record, if anyone cares, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution states, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Trump’s emergency declaration Friday was a statement to Congress that the power of the purse belongs to “The Donald,” not Congress.
Trump’s 911 call to the public will fall on deaf ears
Donald Trump lives in a world of of political fantasies dreamed on soft feather pillows. Trump and his political advisers — at least the ones who aren’t in jail — seem to believe the president can ride his vanity wall project to a 2020 re-election win. Good luck with that! CNN asked Americans earlier this month whether they would favor or oppose an emergency declaration to secure funds to build the wall. The public opposed the idea by a two-to-one margin (66 percent to 31 percent).
The president may have undermined the urgency of the “crisis” and his prospects in the court of public opinion when he followed his emergency declaration at the White House with a trip to Florida for a weekend of sun, fun and golf.
Many Republican officials shared the public opposition to the president’s decision to bypass Congress and spend $8 billion on the Trump Mahal. Will Hurd, a Republican congressman who represents a Texas district on the Mexican border, told Meet The Press on Sunday,”I don’t think we needed a declaration.” He added, “That is not a tool, the president needs to solve this problem.”
The hostility to Trump’s executive over reach among Republicans reveals the cracks in Trump’s vaunted base.
A national survey last month by the Washington Post and ABC News indicates part of the Trump base has bailed on the president. One out of every three Republicans (32 percent) would support a challenge to the president’s renomination. Two-thirds (65 percent) of the GOP electorate still supported Trump’s renomination, so it would be tough for Mitt Romney or John Kasich to deny the incumbent the GOP nod.
The internal GOP anti-Trump sentiment does mean some Republicans might not vote in the next election. Or the dissenters might vote against Trump, and instead opt for either a Democrat or for an independent candidacy by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. There’s a lot of talk about the danger that Howard Schultz could cause the eventual Democratic nominee, but Kasich’s independent candidacy could cause even bigger problems for the president.
The battle over Trump’s executive order now goes to federal courts.
The good news for the president is there are a lot of new Trump-appointed judges out there. The bad news is many of them came with the imprimatur of the Federalist Society or The Heritage Foundation, which aren’t fans of presidential overreach — at least not when Barack Obama was president.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.