According to a law passed in 1948, it is a federal crime to impersonate a federal officer. Title 18 of the U.S. Code, section 912 provides:
Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
In the case of Donald Trump, I vote for “both.” Any relationship between Donald Trump and an actual president of the United States is both purely coincidental and fictitious. He was elected with the help of a hostile foreign power and lost the popular vote. I understand that he and the White House Press Secretary continue to claim he won the popular vote but that assertion, as with so many others, is blatantly and demonstrably false. We have a serial liar for president.
The latest example of Trump’s grossly inappropriate conduct is his visit to Pittsburgh that was resisted by most of the responsible, and respectful, people there. It wasn’t that they all opposed his visit. They just didn’t want the distraction while they were grieving and planning the prompt burials required by the Jewish faith.
Trump, however, could care less about the latest victims of AR-15 enabled mass violence. His visit was a political gesture that, like so many others, was designed to suit his political base and has nothing to do with respect for the dead, for Jewish people or anything other than self-interest and maintenance of political power. If it were otherwise, Trump would have respected the request of local officials and families of the dead to come at another time. His political calculation is that this is the best time. Otherwise, according to the White House, the visit might have interfered with Trump’s planned election rallies for the mid-term elections. Always first-things-first at the Trump White House.
I actually expect that Trump is quite happy that the Pittsburgh visit has stirred yet another hornet’s nest of turmoil. Trump’s political strategy is to dominate the news regardless of the circumstances and regardless of who may be affected. It’s part of his deflection strategy that often works because the news media, the people he claims to hate because they criticize him, hang on his every word and his every move. Jake Tapper just stated on CNN that Trump came with the “best of intentions.” How Tapper knows that will remain a mystery. Why he felt it was appropriate to say it is beyond my understanding as well. It is just one example of the media fawning on the man that responds to them with the charge that they are the “enemy of the people.” Someday, historians will explore the devil’s bargain the media have made with Trump: “kick me again, I love the pain and the attention.”
Look at it this way. The school yard bully beats up a different kid every day for six months. Then, as the school year ends, he gives some candy to one of his victims. Should everyone conclude from this one act of generosity amidst dozens of acts of evil that the bully had good intentions and was “doing the right thing?” I rest my case.
Maybe the media should try another approach – like ignoring what Trump says and does once in a while. CNN, for example, will apparently spend the entire day and evening rehashing and rehashing Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh. Surely there is more news to report than this. Nothing new is emerging. The same people are interviewed repeatedly and asked the same questions and make the same remarks. Many local officials are obviously reluctant to question the president’s motives publicly. Why? Because they know he’s a bully and could turn on them in a heartbeat with vicious tweets and humiliating statements at his “rallies.” How about the media tries depriving Trump of the constant free national and worldwide publicity he seeks and see how he likes it? Fox News will always be there for him, making stuff up and promoting his far-right authoritarian agenda.
The so-called mainstream media have, I suggest, aided the “normalization” of Trump’s behavior to such an extent that many of his outrageous lies get little or no pushback, further enhancing the fantastical beliefs of his sycophants that he speaks the truth. The mid-term elections may well be the last chance the United States has to re-establish some balance of power in the government, rebuilding the system of checks and balances that the Framers of the Constitution assumed would always exist. They were wrong. Having all three branches of the federal government in the hands of one political party headed by an authoritarian bully has been catastrophic for American democratic institutions. One need look no further than the voter suppression activities being pursued by the Republican Party around the country in an effort to steal another election from the people. If you agree with me about this, it is imperative that you vote, no matter where you live. And take some other people with you. Don’t let the apathy of others undermine your rights as an American. November 6. Do it.