So the unpresidential Tangerine has lost a round as federal judges have extended the stay of his Muslim ban. Good. We can now have some confidence that this round will play out over some time period. Any grit in the wheels of his autocratic white nationalist project is a good thing. But let's look ahead a bit. What might we really be up against here?
It looks to me a good bet that much of Trump's snarling at federal judges (and at the media) is designed to give him someone else to blame when the U.S. is hit with some sort of terrorist incident. We will suffer such an attack; in a country that sends its military tromping through nations around the world, a country awash in unregulated guns, and stocked with the usual quantity of damaged people (including the one in the White House), something is going to happen. Our incompetent president and his proto-fascist, white nationalist brain trust led by Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions hope to be able to use popular panic to overthrow constraints on the emerging autocracy.
Our struggle to preserve the rule law will be enhanced by promoting a widespread understanding that when a terror attack occurs 1) something awful and wrong happened; 2) it happened under a president failing to do his job; 3) and terrorism is no excuse for curtailing civil liberties and trying to rule by executive order. Helping as many people as possible to get a grip on that understanding now is what I mean by immunization.
Fortunately, there are people with a big megaphone are out there sounding the alarm. Jack Goldsmith, formerly of George W. Bush's Office of Legal Counsel, led off with a Lawfare blog post asking a provocative and scary question about Trump's Muslim ban: "Does Trump Want to Lose the Executive Order Battle in Court?"
This isn't coming from some paranoid lefty -- this is from a conservative Harvard Law professor.
Goldsmith's warning on Monday, February 6, seems to have unleashed a slew of "serious" media voices making similar points.
- Journalist Eric Levitz:
- Perceptive Democratic Party pundit Ed Kilgore:
- New Republic columnist Jeet Heer:
- New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza sought the opinion of George W. Bush's torture-apologist lawyer, John Yoo:
- Lizza also interviewed Todd Breasseale, the former assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security:
If we do a good job, the inevitable terror attack might well bounce back against Trump. So asserts political scientist Jonathan Bernstein:
Let's make sure he is right; we can do this.