This Is Not Normal, September 4, 2018 – September 9, 2018

This is your weekly reminder that this is NOT NORMAL.

  • It is NOT NORMAL for an anonymous administration official to write an editorial for the New York Times alleging that the White House staff is fully aware that the president is unfit for office and is dealing with that by making end runs around him and ignoring extreme decisions in hopes that he will forget them.
  • It is also NOT NORMAL that the president wants the Department of Justice to investigate the editorial. Saying mean things about the president is not a crime (and certainly not, as the president suggested, “almost treason”), even when done by an anonymous member of his staff.
  • Similarly, it is NOT NORMAL that Bob Woodward’s book about the current administration alleges, among other things, that at one point a staff member stole a memo off the president’s desk to prevent him from signing it.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a Supreme Court nominee many of whose records are being hidden from the public and who has been credibly accused of misleading Congress (and who has some weird baseball ticket debts) is being rushed through the confirmation process. (I am not going to get into the foofaraw over committee confidential emails, except to say that when the dust settled neither side had covered itself in glory.)
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the administration met with rebellious military officers in Venezuela to discuss the overthrow of the current Venezuelan president, including at least one commander who is on the U. S. government’s sanctions list due to corruption.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that a former adviser to the president’s campaign, who has just been sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI, now says that “the campaign was fully aware” of his overtures to Russia, that the now-Attorney General was “enthusiastic” about the idea of meeting with Putin, and that he lied to protect the president.
  • It is NOT NORMAL that the two major political parties cannot come to an agreement on a pact barring them from using hacked or stolen material in their campaigns.
  • The president’s Twitter feed continues to be NOT NORMAL. To be specific, this week, it was NOT NORMAL for the president to
    • suggest reconsidering NBC’s broadcast license because he is unhappy with their coverage, which reflects both a potential violation of the First Amendment and a lack of understanding of how broadcast licenses work;
    • refer to “how mean, angry, and despicable the other side is,” which is interesting given that several days later he mocked the rival 2016 presidential candidate for her infamous “basket of deplorables” comment (it is not clear to me that “deplorable” is worse than “despicable”);
    • tweet a large number of defensive statements from his staff criticizing the Woodward book, which he called a “con on the public,” and accuse Woodward of making up quotes “to divide”;
    • say that “The Woodward book is a scan. I don’t talk the way I am quoted,” when in fact the quotes attributed to him in the book are strikingly similar to the way he speaks in public;
    • refer to a journalist as “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd”;
    • complain about the weakness of libel laws;
    • argue that the NFL’s ratings have gone “WAY DOWN’ because of the protests against police brutality;
    • use Kim Jong Un as a character witness;
    • tweet “TREASON?” (apparently in regard to the anonymous editorial, which really set the tone for the week);
    • say that “Republicans are doing really well with the Senate Midterms. Races that we were not even thinking about winning are now very close, or even leading,” which is not really what reputable polls reflect; and
    • brag about his Electoral College victory again, nearly two years after the election, despite the fact that it was not actually that impressive.
  • On the bright side, the president appears to have been so distracted by the editorial and the Woodward book that he did not refer to a “Rigged Witch Hunt” or “Crooked Hillary” all week (assuming I didn’t overlook something). “Fake News,” however, made multiple appearances.
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