Nope, Donald, You Do Not Speak for Me

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President Donald Trump apparently apologized to Brett Kavanaugh at a swearing in ceremony this evening “on behalf of the nation.”

Um, no, he didn’t. No doubt he thinks he did, but he does not speak for enough of the nation to apologize on our behalf.

The president of the United States is a somewhat odd position relative to the European models of governance that are the most relevant referents. He is both the head of government and the head of state. In contrast, the French government divides those two jobs into President and Prime Minister. The prime minister, as the title suggests, is a role that developed in the context of monarchy, with the position being the monarch’s primary person in charge of running the government on a daily basis, making sure the laws the monarch wants get passed and enforced.

The French government has a prime minister who still plays that role, and a president, who is like the monarch in being the ceremonial head of the country, but playing little daily role in actually governing, although he does appoint the prime minister. So it is that the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, is the person we have seen in the news interacting with President Trump because one of the formal responsibilities of the office, the primary responsibility of the office, is to serve as the public face of the nation.

The President of the United States is supposed to be both of those things, although Trump is neither, or he does both so badly, the position might as well be empty. He is supposed to be both head of government, the person who is primarily responsible for enforcement of laws and plays a role in the enactment of laws, by signing or vetoing them, and head of state, the primary figurehead of the nation, who represents it to other countries.

No doubt, this is an important part of why “conservatives” got so upset about having a black president. They couldn’t handle the idea of a black man being the literal face of the United States overseas. For people who don’t care about race or skin color, this is no big deal, but “conservatives” in the United States are white supremacists, so they couldn’t stomach the idea.

It is in this role as head of state that Trump can claim to apologize on behalf of the nation, except that he really only represents the people who were stupid enough to fall for his schtick during the campaign, and now still support him. Kavanaugh agreed to have his name advanced as a candidate for high public office, and Christine Blasey Ford spoke up about relevant information. Trump should apologize to the nation for nominating such a poor candidate, but we have nothing to apologize for as the result of having demanded more careful consideration of Kavanaugh before we let him take a place on the Supreme Court. It’s a very important job and we have good reason to examine nominees for it very carefully.

No, Trump did not apologize on my behalf. I’m not part of the Stupidity Rump.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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