Our "Law and Order" President. Let's see how that's working out.

"I am your president of law and order" sounds better when spoken by someone who obeys the law and appreciates order.

I've endured only two law-and-order presidents in my lifetime. One narrowly avoided dismissal earlier this year after his impeachment; the other might very have gone to prison had not his successor pardoned him.


Trump and Nixon. Two men cut from different cloth: one a lifelong politician with a penchant for dishonesty; the other a lifelong huckster with a commitment to dishonesty. There does seem to be a problem with law and order presidents: they don't know the law and they can't maintain order.


It is of course easy to look back longingly on the good ol' dishonest president and claim he wasn't as bad. Maybe he wasn't—maybe Richard Nixon's machinations were part of a larger plan to push forward a political platform. He certainly knew his party and adhered to their principles. Donald Trump answers to no political platform—only his ego—and while being an ideologue can sometimes be an impediment, having a cogent idea on occasion is still a valuable commodity.


And how has our latest law and order president shown his appreciation of the law? Here's a sampling:

  • He fired James Comey whom he could not convince to stop an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

  • He has retained his ownership interests in his family business while he is in office. He has convinced foreign dignitaries to stay at his properties while in the United States, a direct violation of the Emoluments Clause that prohibit presidents from profiting from their office.

  • Although federal law specifically forbids soliciting or accepting anything of value from a foreign national, he publicly called on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails on July 27, 2016.

  • He illegally withheld $400 million dollars of military aid to Ukraine and in a call with the President of Ukraine, asked them to “do us a favor” by investigating Joe Biden’s family and a debunked conspiracy theory.

  • In Charlottesville in 2017 and in various statehouses in 2020, he tacitly allowed or specifically encouraged insurrections against state governments in direct violation of his Constitutional responsibility to protect citizens against domestic violence.

Impeachable offenses? Not with a Senate ruled by Republican collaborators.


On countless other occasions Trump has skirted the law or defied convention with unabashed nepotism (Bible-toting Ivanka and addle-brained Jared), flagrant interference in legal matters (the pardon of Joe Arpaio, for one), meddling in the military (Eddie Gallagher's pardon), and the refusal to disclose his financial statements.


Trump is our law and order president, beyond both law and order.


And yet, comparing Nixon and Trump remains unfair to Nixon, whose "high crimes and misdemeanors" resonated with dishonesty but were what was referred to at the time as "dirty tricks." His goal may very well have been the interference in fair elections, but his mistake was not hiring the best people to do the dirty work. Trump, on the other hand, has taken crimes to another level, such that they violate more than just a sense of fair play in politics (oxymoronic to begin with) , but also threaten the security of the nation he was elected to steward.


Now Trump's avowed law-and-order platform will move him toward coddling the police and the military—it's standard operating procedure. But the usually sure-fire strategy may not work so well in a country disgusted by police overreach and dubious about our military being exploited by a renegade president. Further complicating Trump's approach is this: Nixon was able to appeal to the so-called Silent Majority which, in the 60s and 70s meant the staid and comfortable middle class. However, in 2020 the middle class has been eviscerated, and the silence had been subsumed by honest protest over and grave concern for human and civil rights.


In the end Nixon left Washington in a helicopter following his formal resignation. Trump is more likely to leave in a police van when he refuses to vacate the White House next January. But, as we all know, either method will work.




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