This is presidential malpractice

President Trump is taking to the airwaves Tuesday to deliver a prime-time speech he has billed as, "On the H...

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 10:48 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2019 10:48 PM

President Trump is taking to the airwaves Tuesday to deliver a prime-time speech he has billed as, "On the Humanitarian and National Security Crisis on our Southern Border." In one of the most classic gambits of 20th century presidential history, the President will try to use the power of the bully pulpit to increase public pressure on Congress to give in to his demand to finance a "border wall."

The speech is the latest step in a massive mess President Trump has made of the federal budget in recent weeks. If it were possible to sue for presidential malpractice, this would be low-hanging fruit for the legal community.

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Presidents have used televised addresses in all sorts of ways. John F. Kennedy told the nation in October 1962 about the crisis that was taking place over the stationing of Soviet missiles in Cuba, while Lyndon Johnson surprised everyone in March 1968 when he said from the Oval Office that he would not run for re-election.

In similar fashion, Richard Nixon announced his resignation to the cameras and Gerald Ford said that he would pardon his predecessor. These TV speeches have also been used to build support for legislative proposals — such as Jimmy Carter championing energy conservation or Ronald Reagan tax cuts. When the space shuttle Challenger exploded, Reagan used a televised address to comfort the nation. After 9/11, George W. Bush tried to shore up our resolve.

How will President Trump use this address?

Predictably, the President is turning to television to further polarize the electorate and to amplify the fault lines that exist in American society. He is trying to drum up fear about a national security crisis at the border and pressure Congress into paying for a wall, or at least a fence.

The speech is just the latest part of a partial government shutdown owned by Trump. Last December most members of Congress were in agreement over the basic numbers that were needed to keep the government running for a few more months. Democrats did not demand any major initiatives and most Republicans were happy to sign on so they could leave town. Few members in either party were interested in the political fallout that could come from shutting the government down.

But then the President stepped in to undo a deal. Faced with criticism from the right-wing coalition of the Freedom Caucus and Fox News commentators, President Trump decided to legislate by holding hostage the federal government — and the citizens who depend on it and work for it.

While Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama entered into government shutdowns in 1995 and 2013, when they stood firm against Republican efforts to cut government programs that Congress had already enacted, President Trump is trying something very different. He is preventing the government from being funded until Democrats agree to a new policy along the border.

Given that Democrats are refusing to agree to an exorbitant amount of money for a wall that won't have any demonstrable impact — most illegal immigration, which has been steadily declining, takes place by people who come in on airplanes and overstay their visas — the President is literally manufacturing an emergency before our very eyes. He is creating a crisis, the absence of a fully functioning government, stoking fears about a dangerous crisis on the border, claiming against all evidence that terrorists are pouring into the country. This is a massive piece of disinformation, and now the President is doubling down by talking of using his emergency power to achieve his goals and trying to mobilize the public behind his agenda.

The speech will likely go down as one of the more striking misuses of presidential addresses that we have seen in recent times. Unless he changes his stance, he will be using his access to the airwaves to polarize, to divide, and to drum up tension rather than to achieve real consensus around real solutions.

We can expect the speech, in a nutshell, to epitomize the shortcomings and dangers of the Trump presidency. It should not be viewed as a message to guide the nation, but rather as one that brings us deeper into a political quagmire of the President's own making.

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Reported Deaths: 2031
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Hennepin26147923
Ramsey10595318
Dakota7250125
Anoka5836132
Stearns383324
Washington362755
Scott247333
Olmsted232927
Nobles193816
Blue Earth16166
Wright15497
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Carver13657
Rice13098
Mower13015
Clay128840
Sherburne110914
Kandiyohi9362
Winona85318
Lyon6554
Waseca5508
Freeborn5263
Steele5262
Benton5173
Nicollet51316
Watonwan5114
Todd4812
Chisago4621
McLeod4612
Le Sueur4464
Crow Wing44418
Otter Tail4024
Beltrami3805
Martin34310
Goodhue3409
Itasca28913
Pine2870
Polk2774
Isanti2680
Douglas2672
Becker2512
Carlton2461
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Pipestone21510
Morrison2131
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Brown1812
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Rock1590
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Redwood1441
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Cass1343
Faribault1330
Swift1231
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Houston1150
Kanabec1148
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Fillmore1100
Koochiching1103
Lincoln1030
Stevens931
Pope890
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Grant594
Wilkin573
Lake560
Norman520
Marshall501
Lac qui Parle471
Mahnomen461
Red Lake381
Traverse300
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 81296

Reported Deaths: 1284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15404259
Woodbury506463
Johnson502827
Black Hawk439688
Linn3832108
Story334017
Dubuque289141
Scott283528
Dallas270038
Pottawattamie200638
Buena Vista195512
Marshall176434
Sioux14163
Wapello128057
Webster120914
Clinton108020
Muscatine107854
Plymouth106220
Crawford10215
Cerro Gordo100721
Warren9396
Jasper78332
Des Moines7477
Marion7345
Tama69531
Carroll6445
Henry6314
Lee6097
Wright5651
Dickinson4876
Boone4808
Bremer4717
Washington44011
Louisa42615
Mahaska35819
Delaware3493
Franklin34418
Hamilton3173
Jackson3103
Floyd3063
Winneshiek3045
Clay3014
Benton2921
Hardin2851
Winnebago27813
Lyon2694
Butler2632
Clarke2613
Poweshiek2588
Buchanan2551
Emmet25310
Allamakee2516
Jones2513
Shelby2501
Clayton2383
Kossuth2370
Guthrie2315
Cedar2261
Chickasaw2250
Sac2220
Cherokee2122
Grundy2103
Madison2072
Fayette2032
Iowa1931
Harrison1892
Howard1836
Mitchell1830
Humboldt1773
Calhoun1762
Hancock1762
Mills1681
Palo Alto1650
Pocahontas1542
Lucas1536
Monroe15110
Monona1421
Page1420
Cass1392
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Appanoose1263
Taylor1251
Union1233
Davis1184
Van Buren1111
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Worth1030
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