New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker says President Trump's outrages aren't outraging us anymore:
After six months in office, Mr. Trump has crossed so many lines, discarded so many conventions, said and done so many things that other presidents would not have, that he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard in the White House. He has moved the bar for outrage. He has a taste for provocation and relishes challenging Washington taboos. If the propriety police tut tut, he shows no sign of concern.
[Last week,] Mr. Trump urged uniformed sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford to call their members of Congress to lobby for his military spending plan and his proposed repeal of Mr. Obama’s health care program. Traditionally, the commander in chief does not tell the troops who serve under him to involve themselves in politics or policy battles on his behalf.
"Traditionally?" The President politicizing the military is such a bright line that only George W. Bush has even come close to doing so in my lifetime. Never, in my knowledge, has a president solicited votes from uniformed personnel, and for good reason. Baker:
“It was a mistake for the president to make this comment,” said Peter D. Feaver, a specialist on civilian-military matters at Duke University and a former national security aide to Mr. Bush. “While there is a legitimate role for senior brass to explain military affairs to the public, it is not good for civil-military relations to have the military viewed as a special interest group pleading for bigger budgets.”
And then there's the matter of calling for the prosecution of his defeated opponent:
The closest analogies that historians could summon occurred a century or more ago. Aaron Burr, who sought to snatch the presidency from Thomas Jefferson when the contest went to the House of Representatives in 1800, was prosecuted in a treason case for later plotting to break off territory and create a new nation. (He was acquitted.) Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist candidate who lost the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson, was jailed for sedition for speaking out against World War I. In both cases, they were prosecuted for actions taken after the election.
So...never before have we come this close to being a banana republic. Meanwhile, Trump is inverting the way the White House has worked for nearly a century—or, rather, allowing his new communications director to do so:
Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short, according to Politico, is among the first to get canned. It seems likely that that even if Scaramucci remains Communications Director and doesn’t become chief of staff himself – which I would not rule out – that the White House will now be run from the communications office, with a new chief of staff effectively, if not formally, reporting to Scaramucci.
This, while signalling that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is about to get his walking papers. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, sure; but it's still a little insane. Check out Jennifer Rubin's column yesterday in the Independent UK: "Trump's presidency can't be saved—so what happens next?"
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