WASHINGTON – Thanks to congressional gutlessness, President Trump may not actually need a terrorist or other crisis to seize more power.
Trump has committed an outrage a week – or is it an outrage a day? He’s getting away with it.
The latest is Trump’s deployment of ground combat forces to the morass in Syria. The first combat boots on the ground in that endless, tragic and pointless war. Four hundred U.S. Marines were sent to fire “smart” howitzer shells at ISIS fighters, and who knows whom else.
Not only did Trump not formally ask Congress for permission, but the trigger-happy commander in chief didn’t bother to consult with the Democratic congressional leadership or Democratic leaders of the House or Senate Armed Services Committees.
As this column warned 15 long years ago when the military industrial complex was plotting our invasion of Iraq, this is how American aggression started: In Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Vietnam.
The only results are social disintegration, big profits for weapons makers and makers of sports gear, body bags and endless wait periods for wounded service personnel at many Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Don’t look for Congress to get in the way. Belligerence is so deep in our political DNA that only a few straggling liberals in Congress ever protest when our wartime presidents segue from aircraft sorties to “advisers” or “observers” to combat ground troops.
Trump’s more recent outrages include:
• Charging that former President Barack Obama personally ordered the government to tap Trump’s telephone in Trump Towers in Manhattan last October. So far, the president has not offered a shred of evidence to support this abominable charge.
• In one outburst, Trump warned House Republicans that they would face a political “bloodbath” in 2018 if they don’t pass a replacement for Obamacare.
• In another tirade, Trump told Republican senators he would “hire stadiums” to campaign against them if they fought him on health care reform.
• On Friday, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee jointly warned Trump against his reported practice of deleting some of his corrosive political tweets from the official White House records. The leaders said deleting these tweets is a violation of law.
Trump, of course, built much of his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton for her allegedly concealing some of her emails as secretary of state, drawing chants at Trump rallies of “lock her up.”
The president’s core supporters appear to be unshaken by these aberrations, viewing them as so much trivia drummed up by left-wing media.
Trump’s survival is helped by the fact that too many voters get their news and information from hate radio, friendly Fox News commentators, tweets and bulletins seen on hand-held devices – instead of newspapers.
Subcabinet appointees like deputy labor secretary stalled by Senate minority Democrats are not an insuperable problem for Trump. Propublica.com says Trump has already deployed 400 senior officials across the government, none of whom need Senate confirmation. One of them is Curtis Ellis, a man who advised onetime congressional candidate and industrialist Jack Davis of Newstead in his unsuccessful campaigns against former Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-Clarence.
Ellis was reportedly on the job as special assistant to the secretary of labor the day Trump became president. Trump’s second pick for labor secretary, Alex Acosta, won’t even have a confirmation hearing until Wednesday.
These special appointees are Trump’s eyes and ears until the Senate clears dozens of waiting subcabinet officials.