The Presidency in 2019

The Presidency in 2019


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

If the Founding Fathers were to return today it is not clear if they would cry, laugh, or admit that Ben Franklin was right that the Republic only would survive “if you [the people] can keep it.” The electoral system for Presidents is flawed. The powers of the President—according to those at the convention when Washington refused to be king or president for life—would be defined by how the first president would conduct the affairs of state. The Founders had such faith in Washington that they believed he would establish norms and rules which would serve as a guide for future Presidents.

What Donald Trump has done in three years is demonstrate that the Founders’ fears were justified. America has today proven that it cannot protect itself from a despotic ruler or a mafia don. The American citizens are not viewing a movie or reading an historical novel.

America’s laws and norms are being violated, abused, and disregarded at every turn.  Scholars and students of the Presidency can critique the President; academics are ignored; journalists are dismissed; but where are the moral, religious leaders?

The impeachment investigation may well not have changed many minds so far, but it certainly has become a major annoyance for Trump. There are four more days of hearings scheduled and this could clearly be extended. The President’s tweet this morning attacking Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch may have reached a new low. It even was characterized by FOX News as possible witness tampering and harassment.

President Trump does not know what is still to come and how the public may react. What he should fear is there might be an actual breakdown in the solid flank of Republicans supporting him in Congress; then, there might be a flood of followers.


Short Takes

1.Mick Mulvaney

As soon as Trump figures out how to fire him, Mick Mulvaney will be history. He is already marginal at best in the White House, but he does or did represent an articulate view within the Republican Party. Dismissing him could have consequences within the Freedom Caucus/Tea Party Wing of the congressional GOP; thus, explaining why Trump has not sacked him for insubordination.

  1. Michael Bloomberg

If Bloomberg can pull this off it will remarkable. Baring a miracle, Biden seems to have plateaued and the moderate center of the Democratic Party has no potential force. The progressive wing of the party needs to examine Bloomberg’s record and not at his bank accounts. He has done more for the environment, fighting against gun violence, and education, than have most of those in the Democratic Party. Bloomberg does not have a pure record but neither do many of the progressives. Bloomberg may be old, but this seems to be the year for the septuagenarians. What he brings to the table is managerial skill and experience; the ability and willingness to hire and delegate; and a comprehension of his abilities and weaknesses.

3.Nicky Haley

Nicky Haley’s new book’s excerpts demonstrate once again how any disagreements with the President are forgotten. Haley’s sudden support and affection for Trump and his conduct in office, permit her to now take a different turn if your personal, political ambition demands it. What it says about Haley, is that the integrity and character that many observed in her career as Governor and U.N. Ambassador were only an expediency. She and Trump recognize that Mike Pompeo will leave the State Department no later than early next year if– as has been rumored–he plans to run for the open Senate seat in Kansas. If Pompeo leaves, then Haley may well be using her book and the book tours as her way to audition for the job on Foggy Bottom. This would enable her to keep her electoral powder dry for a run in 2024; unless, instead, she wants to be taped to replace Pence on the 2020 ticket.

4.Deval Patrick

The questions here are why or why now or what took so longer. Whatever his capabilities, Patrick has virtually no chance to receive the Democratic nomination. He needs staff and money immediately. Outside of Massachusetts he has no name recognition. Patrick could vie to be the Vice-Presidential nominee without all this unnecessary hoopla. If he is running for 2024, this is totally unnecessary.


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