Conservative columnist George Will slammed President Trump on Thursday for his “frivolousness and stupidity,” warning that the self-described “very stable genius” with “a very good brain” is currently “spiraling downward in a tightening gyre.”
Writing in the Washington Post, Will explained that Trump’s “unhinged public performances” are “as alarming as they are embarrassing.” Meanwhile, the president is crafting international policy “so flippantly that it has stirred faint flickers of thinking among Congress’s vegetative Republicans,” a reference to Trump’s universally condemned decision this week to abandon our Kurdish allies who have been fighting off ISIS in Syria on behalf of the U.S. government.
“Aside from some rhetorical bleats, Republicans are acquiescing as Trump makes foreign policy by and for his viscera. This might, and should, complete what the Iraq War began in 2003 — the destruction of the GOP’s advantage regarding foreign policy,” wrote Will.
“Trump’s gross and comprehensive incompetence now increasingly impinges upon the core presidential responsibility,” said Will. “This should, but will not, cause congressional Republicans to value their own and their institution’s dignity and exercise its powers more vigorously than they profess fealty to Trump. He has issued a categorical refusal to supply witnesses and documents pertinent to the House investigation of whether he committed an impeachable offense regarding Ukraine. This refusal, which is analogous to an invocation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, justifies an inference of guilt. Worse, this refusal attacks our constitutional regime. So, the refusal is itself an impeachable offense.”
Will noted that it was remarkably similar to behavior he saw in 1974 when President Richard Nixon was indicted for failing “without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by” a House committee, and for having “interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas” of the House.
Will said that if Trump is allowed to continue, then the Constitution’s impeachment provision will be “effectively repealed,” leaving any future president to operate above the law.
Citing Federalist 51 by James Madison, Will explained that the founding fathers anticipated a battle between the two branches of government and outlined the separation of powers for exactly that reason.
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected to the constitutional rights of the place,” Madison wrote. Equilibrium between the branches depends on “supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives.”
According to Will, that balance has vanished as members of Congress cower in fear of Trump.
“Trump is not just aggressively but lawlessly exercising the interests of his place, counting on Congress, after decades of lassitude regarding its interests, being an ineffective combatant,” he wrote. “Trump’s argument, injected into him by subordinates who understand that absurdity is his vocation, is essentially that the Constitution’s impeachment provisions are unconstitutional.”
If Republicans lawmakers fail to stand up to Trump’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law, Will said that they should be defeated in 2020.