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This is presidential malpractice

President Trump is taking to the airwaves Tuesday to deliver a prime-time speech he has billed as, "On the H...

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 11:48 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 11:48 PM

President Trump is taking to the airwaves Tuesday to deliver a prime-time speech he has billed as, "On the Humanitarian and National Security Crisis on our Southern Border." In one of the most classic gambits of 20th century presidential history, the President will try to use the power of the bully pulpit to increase public pressure on Congress to give in to his demand to finance a "border wall."

The speech is the latest step in a massive mess President Trump has made of the federal budget in recent weeks. If it were possible to sue for presidential malpractice, this would be low-hanging fruit for the legal community.

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Presidents have used televised addresses in all sorts of ways. John F. Kennedy told the nation in October 1962 about the crisis that was taking place over the stationing of Soviet missiles in Cuba, while Lyndon Johnson surprised everyone in March 1968 when he said from the Oval Office that he would not run for re-election.

In similar fashion, Richard Nixon announced his resignation to the cameras and Gerald Ford said that he would pardon his predecessor. These TV speeches have also been used to build support for legislative proposals — such as Jimmy Carter championing energy conservation or Ronald Reagan tax cuts. When the space shuttle Challenger exploded, Reagan used a televised address to comfort the nation. After 9/11, George W. Bush tried to shore up our resolve.

How will President Trump use this address?

Predictably, the President is turning to television to further polarize the electorate and to amplify the fault lines that exist in American society. He is trying to drum up fear about a national security crisis at the border and pressure Congress into paying for a wall, or at least a fence.

The speech is just the latest part of a partial government shutdown owned by Trump. Last December most members of Congress were in agreement over the basic numbers that were needed to keep the government running for a few more months. Democrats did not demand any major initiatives and most Republicans were happy to sign on so they could leave town. Few members in either party were interested in the political fallout that could come from shutting the government down.

But then the President stepped in to undo a deal. Faced with criticism from the right-wing coalition of the Freedom Caucus and Fox News commentators, President Trump decided to legislate by holding hostage the federal government — and the citizens who depend on it and work for it.

While Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama entered into government shutdowns in 1995 and 2013, when they stood firm against Republican efforts to cut government programs that Congress had already enacted, President Trump is trying something very different. He is preventing the government from being funded until Democrats agree to a new policy along the border.

Given that Democrats are refusing to agree to an exorbitant amount of money for a wall that won't have any demonstrable impact — most illegal immigration, which has been steadily declining, takes place by people who come in on airplanes and overstay their visas — the President is literally manufacturing an emergency before our very eyes. He is creating a crisis, the absence of a fully functioning government, stoking fears about a dangerous crisis on the border, claiming against all evidence that terrorists are pouring into the country. This is a massive piece of disinformation, and now the President is doubling down by talking of using his emergency power to achieve his goals and trying to mobilize the public behind his agenda.

The speech will likely go down as one of the more striking misuses of presidential addresses that we have seen in recent times. Unless he changes his stance, he will be using his access to the airwaves to polarize, to divide, and to drum up tension rather than to achieve real consensus around real solutions.

We can expect the speech, in a nutshell, to epitomize the shortcomings and dangers of the Trump presidency. It should not be viewed as a message to guide the nation, but rather as one that brings us deeper into a political quagmire of the President's own making.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 601937

Reported Deaths: 9593
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion831111322
Lake44972678
Allen32498545
Hamilton29039315
St. Joseph27133380
Elkhart24291343
Vanderburgh19160246
Tippecanoe17799130
Johnson14871292
Porter14631167
Hendricks14188247
Madison10851219
Vigo10636178
Clark10520137
Monroe9299110
Delaware9055134
LaPorte8972160
Howard8134142
Kosciusko800382
Warrick665197
Hancock6575103
Bartholomew637999
Floyd6322109
Wayne6076161
Grant5937113
Dubois552578
Boone544967
Morgan530594
Henry503464
Marshall499884
Cass478663
Dearborn470745
Noble468357
Jackson420747
Shelby410781
Lawrence387478
Clinton370642
Gibson365559
DeKalb344264
Montgomery340754
Harrison340544
Knox333139
Miami317344
Steuben311545
Whitley301725
Wabash299747
Adams299035
Ripley296545
Putnam292049
Huntington288659
Jasper287634
White270340
Daviess266073
Jefferson257938
Fayette245148
Decatur244883
Greene238162
Posey236927
Wells233350
LaGrange226361
Scott221838
Clay220932
Randolph212148
Jennings195836
Sullivan190833
Spencer188019
Fountain182127
Washington182022
Starke174443
Jay166322
Owen162837
Fulton162330
Orange156333
Carroll155415
Rush153318
Perry151227
Vermillion147334
Franklin146933
Tipton130932
Parke13018
Pike115626
Blackford110522
Pulaski96137
Newton90521
Brown86833
Benton85910
Crawford7839
Martin72313
Warren6757
Switzerland6455
Union6227
Ohio4787
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 849704

Reported Deaths: 10518
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100046706
Cuyahoga845231068
Hamilton63092447
Montgomery42660405
Summit34405754
Lucas31041611
Butler30546229
Stark25443429
Warren19436140
Lorain18767223
Mahoning17163337
Lake15882153
Clermont15697110
Delaware1422678
Licking13067137
Trumbull12680313
Fairfield1262180
Greene11915136
Medina11439167
Clark10802265
Wood10230158
Allen9774126
Portage9163107
Miami907373
Richland9035117
Marion7420113
Tuscarawas7280179
Columbiana7263124
Pickaway719550
Wayne6954169
Muskingum690741
Erie6090127
Hancock547590
Ross543487
Scioto533664
Geauga501155
Darke465591
Ashtabula449373
Lawrence447053
Union444928
Sandusky433062
Mercer432088
Huron423541
Seneca423465
Auglaize419662
Shelby419421
Jefferson415469
Belmont411240
Washington383340
Athens37379
Putnam372674
Madison349929
Knox347922
Ashland342538
Fulton335243
Defiance327782
Crawford319472
Preble318437
Brown307121
Logan304132
Ottawa289243
Clinton286643
Williams275866
Highland271818
Jackson261345
Guernsey249825
Champaign249328
Fayette234429
Morrow23014
Perry228318
Holmes222864
Henry216849
Hardin210133
Coshocton203521
Van Wert200545
Gallia194726
Wyandot193851
Pike172417
Adams172015
Hocking169824
Carroll153216
Paulding143221
Noble119940
Meigs106823
Monroe100331
Harrison87821
Morgan82229
Vinton68913
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