Donald Trump has given the republic so many new ideas during his two years as president. He campaigned on the claim that most Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers, which most of us know is not the case. Shortly after he took office, his spokesmodel taught us the new phrase, “alternative facts,” which most of just call “lies.” His administration decided that anyone who reaches the southern border of the United States, no matter how plausible their likely asylum claim, deserves criminal prosecution and separation from their children, whom the federal government has no responsibility to keep track of, or even alive.
He recently retweeted the novel legal theory from a man who used to be an authority in such matters that invoking an amendment to the Constitution can violate the Constitution.
Now he has given us the optional emergency. At just after 2:59 in this video he says, in announcing that he is “signing a national emergency” [sic], that “I don’t need to do this”:
Ordinarily, an “emergency” is an event that imposes the utmost necessity and urgency on anyone involved. If one’s house is on fire, one does not say that one does not need to call the fire department or leave the house hurriedly because one is already doing it. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt did not tell Congress that he did not need to ask for a declaration of war. He saw himself as having no choice in the matter.
For Trump, however, in what we might regard as a sort of Freudian slip, implicitly admitting that his claims about the border with Mexico being a hot bed of human trafficking and drug smuggling are lies, the occasion of signing a declaration of emergency to permit redirection of federal funds to build his stupid wall is something he does not have to do.
The latest Trumpism: the optional emergency.