Donald Trump
got the headlines he wanted for his State of the Union address — ‘Trump calls for unity’ was popular. The New York Times invoked his phrase “New American Moment,” which several writers unkindly noted beforehand had been employed in a speech some years ago by Hillary Clinton.

Reactions generally fell on the usual partisan or ideological lines (some Never Trump Republicans remain unimpressed.)


I do think it is fair to say the unity theme was often betrayed as Trump struck familiar chords of nativism and jingoism, as Joan Walsh wrote in Salon. Invocation of disapproval of protests by black football players of police brutality drew the riotous cheers from Republicans you might expect. If you insist this is a measure simply of who respects the country and the flag and who does not, you are a dishonest Republican shill.

I think Ezra Klein got it most right. The Republicans in Congress are with him. Barring health catastrophe we’re stuck with him through 2020 and, who knows, perhaps beyond. Math says Democrats can’t elect enough in 2018 to get Senate votes necessary for removal, even if a Democratic House would call for impeachment.


Most troubling? Yascha Mounk wrote in Slate of his threat to rule of law:

Trump called on Congress to give him unprecedented and unquestionably antidemocratic powers:  “Tonight,” he said, “I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

By design, it is easy to overlook the true significance of the second half of that phrase. But dwell on it for a moment, and imagine what this would actually look like in practice. Under Trump’s proposal, any Cabinet secretary could decide that, say, a law enforcement official investigating the president had “undermined the public trust” or “failed the American people”—and fire him on the spot. In other words, Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.

Get used to more USA!USA! chants from members of Congress and a significant portion of the electorate who like the way this autocratic presidency is shaping up. You’d have thought when that chant broke out that the U.S. hockey team had just beaten Russia. Except, of course today, the Russians are our comrades.