Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the adoption of Trump-like rhetoric and tactics by Democrats who seem to believe they have some strange kind of immunity in the post-Trump world.
Here is the column:
As Washington prepares for a Biden administration, Congress Democrats discover they cannot live without Donald Trump. In controversies that range from federal investigations to executive orders, they rely on Trump to justify abandoning the principles they had raised against him for four years. There is a sense of immunity from the need to be consistent or coherent. Call it “Trumpunity”.
Trumpunity is the right to adopt the exact practices or guidelines that you once denounced, all because you are not Trump. Even the mention of his name magically releases you from any obligation to follow previous positions.
So it was not a problem when the new Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon announced the Biden administration as the initiation of a new “sense of unity” and labeled Republicans a “bundle of enemies.” Although Dillon later apologized, figures such as Hillary Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) publicly supported their vulgar attack as perfectly acceptable given Trump’s earlier rhetoric. There’s an open license now to act just like him. AOC (who previously called for a blacklist of “accomplices” with Trump) told Republicans that after Trump “now you can’t sob” when Democrats engage in vulgar attacks.
This, of course, is little more than a youthful “he did it first” defense. Washington has long floated in a deep sea of hypocrisy, but now leaders don’t even feel the need to fake anything – they have Trump.
After years of complaining that Trump acted unilaterally through executive orders, the Democrats are now calling on Joe Biden to do the same with dozens of such orders. Just a few months ago, Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.), chairman of the Senate minority, condemned Trump’s unilateral COVID-19 aid orders as unconstitutional, bypassing Congress. Now he wants Biden to bypass Congress after his inauguration by, for example, slashing debts of up to $ 50,000 per student – a massive federal grant without a vote by Congress.
Democrats and a number of legal experts condemned Trump for years for dismissing the Russia collusion investigation as a politically motivated joke. They insisted on the appointment of a special envoy and even labeled rhetorical criticism as criminal obstruction or witness manipulation. Now Biden has dismissed his son’s investigation into the federal government as another form of political “foul play”. Various Democratic senators, including Schumer, called on the Justice Department not to investigate Hunter Biden’s allegations, and figures such as House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Called for the Durham investigation to be ended.
In confirming the federal investigation into Hunter Biden, the media and Democrats dropped earlier claims that such allegations were Russian disinformation – in Schiff’s words “from the Kremlin.” Now the influence peddling scheme is being treated as true but dismissed as no worse than what the Trumps did. In other words, if the Trump kids benefited from their father, so can Hunter Biden. It doesn’t matter if there were tax or money laundering crimes, or if Joe Biden lied about his knowledge or role. The same people who called for an investigation into the affairs of Trump’s children are now citing the affairs to denounce the investigation of Biden’s son.
Trump has long had a similarly distorting influence on legal analysis. Both media and legal figures abandoned longstanding views on criminal justice in order to support a full interpretation of the criminal and constitutional provisions to justify the indictment or indictment against Trump. Flawed theories rejected by the Supreme Court were declared entirely plausible when used against Trump.
Now that Trump has only been in office for a few weeks, there remains a sense of abandonment in blanketing the constitutional claims that affect him. Consider the question of forgiveness: although this has long been considered an open issue in the Constitution, various legal experts have stated that Trump clearly cannot apologize, a view some of us have questioned. One academic, Ken Gormley, went further this week, suggesting that not only cannot Trump not forgive himself, but that Biden can “excuse” him for doing so. Such a view would require forgetting the constitutional language, which not only does not limit the pardon but also does not create the power to revoke the pardon of previous presidents. Indeed, such a view would run counter to history and the purpose of pardons. However, Trump seems to be practically non-constitutional – a rationale in itself.
Even constitutional terms apparently no longer have a recognizable meaning when they are in the same sentence as Trump. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) told CNN that members of Congress who question the election results “border on riot and betrayal”. That would mean over 70 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of Democrats across the country are potential traitors if they believe Trump has won. Shaneen and her colleagues denounced Trump for calling traitors and tried to protect officials who denounced his use of the “enemies of the people” label against reporters. Just two years ago, Trump was called Stalin by Democrats for using labels like that. It is the same position that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro recently took before the Supreme Court, who called a legal challenge to the election “inflammatory”. Of course, using the courts or Congress to raise such objections is the opposite of rioting trying to overthrow the legal system.
Democrats did not accuse their counterparts of treason or turmoil when they attempted to block the certification of Ohio votes in Congress in 2004. They didn’t treason Hillary Clinton for advising Biden not to allow Trump to win on election night. They did not label members of Congress or the media as traitors who Trump had repeatedly declared “illegitimate” over the past four years.
Napoleon once said, “Treason is a matter of dates.” And the deadline in the United States appears to be November 7th for now – the day the media declared Joe Biden the alleged winner. It also appears to be the day millions of Americans became suspected traitors to question the election results. This, according to the same Democrats who once rightly denounced Trump for calling his critics “traitors” and “enemies of the people”.
It seems that Trump is just too useful to really let go. Without it, the critics would be forced to live by the values they have claimed to defend for the past four years. Why be civil, cooperative, or constitutional when you can act like Trump? After all, you have trumpunity.