Paul Krugman: We’re losing two critical safeguards against despotism in Trump’s White House


AlterNet

Paul Krugman (Credit: Reuters/Anton Golubev)

Donald Trump is not the first mediocre president of the United States, Krugman reminds weary Americans in his Tuesday column. The problem, however, is not only that Trump feels the need to refer to himself as a “very stable genius,” but that the president lacks two of the key factors that prevented the previous generations of mediocre men from laying waste to our democracy: first-rate advisers and a functioning system of checks and balances. Congress and the Supreme Court have historically been safety valves protecting the country from the president’s worst impulses. Unfortunately, Krugman writes, “under the Very Stable Genius in Chief, the old rules no longer apply.”

Ronald Reagan’s official Alzheimer’s diagnosis came five years after he left office, but the disease may have taken hold during his second term. It’s an alarming thought, but Krugman notes, “with James Baker running Treasury and George Shultz running State, one didn’t have to worry about whether qualified people were making the big decisions.” Also, he continues, “while we’ve probably had chief executives who longed to jail their critics or enrich themselves while in office, none of them dared act on those desires.”

Under Trump, this may no longer be true. Just look at the people he brought into the White House with him. Even though the likes of now-indicted former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn are gone, we’re still left with Steven Mnuchin, the thought of whom, Krugman believes, “has Hamilton rolling over in his grave.” And that’s only one of the higher-profile appointments. In a particularly chilling reminder of what we’re dealing with, Krugman writes:

“Many incredibly bad lower-level appointments have flown under the public’s radar. We only get a sense of how bad things are from the occasional story that breaks through, like that of Trump’s nominee to head the Indian Health Service, who appears to have lied about his credentials. (A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services says a tornado destroyed …read more

Source:: Salon

      

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