On this President’s Day there is a lot to criticize about the behavior of our current President. Although other Presidents have certainly not conducted themselves with dignity (think Bill Clinton), President Trump’s demeanor and decorum during his news conference was more a throwback to his days as a reality TV star than a performance befitting a head of state. Presidential dignity promotes the stability of our union.
And while other Presidents have told more consequential falsehoods (think “If you like your plan you can keep it”), few have made statements that are so transparently false at the time they are made, such as the President’s claim about the relative strength of his electoral college victory. Presidents must rely on their credibility to take unpopular and contestable actions in times of crisis and President Trump is in danger of squandering his.
Some of the President’s executive orders, like that on immigration, have been issued without sufficient deliberation and his remarks in their defense have been intemperate insults rather than measured criticisms of the substance of their rulings.
But the behavior of the President is no license for lawlessness and the violation of long standing political norms. Yet that is what some of his opponents have claimed with the support from intellectuals.