Under punditocracy, there is a tendency to disregard President Trump's authoritarian rhetoric only as red meat for his venerable base: transient Twitter tantrums or hyperbolic salesmanship. He did it from the moment he announced his run for president when he cursed Latino immigrants as a rapist. He continued the campaign by advocating torture, mass executions, and banning Muslims from the countryside. His ongoing plea for ruthless dictators from Russian Vladimir Putin to the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to his recent love affair with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un seems to show a genuine admiration and respect for the most reckless and violent tyrants on the planet.  Trump admires these men for their willingness and ability to mercilessly rule their countries with an iron fist. His recent commentary on Kim, for example, even reveals a little envy:
Hey, he's the head of a country, and I mean, he's the strong head. Do not let anyone think differently. He speaks, and his people sit up. I want my people to do the same.
He later said that he was joking, but it really did not seem that way. He had absurdly said a few days earlier that Kim's "Land loves him, his people, you see the passion, they have a great passion." It did not seem to matter to him that the "zeal" is enforced on pain of imprisonment or death.
Trump plans to spend $ 30 million to create some of this fervor for himself next fall:
Parade details for November 11th. Will have uniforms. Some planes. Maybe old planes. Tanks are prohibited. pic.twitter.com/W7xyhLYo9Y
– Thomas Gibbons-Neff (@Tmgneff) March 9, 2018
Trump is said to have loved and positively commented North Korean state television the female anchor acted from Kim Jong Un. He said to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee last week that criticism from the American media at his Kim summit was "almost treacherous." This is not the first time he claims that failure to betray him is appropriate. When the Democrats did not welcome his alleged achievements during the State of the Union address, he asked a mass clientele: "Can we name this betrayal? Why not? They did not seem to love our country very much."
This is a man who insisted that everyone always called him "Mr. Trump" when he was on business and always demanded strict formalities, even among his family members. As a president, he routinely assembles his cabinet and other government members to sit down and robotically praise his virtues. Remember this little pageant from its first Cabinet meeting:
Then there is the almost bizarre order to create a new branch of government called "Space Force" (against the advice and opinion of one) each one of his military advisers) and single-handedly inciting the international order with a silly "philosophy" that the US should run a protective racket and be paid a steadily increasing ransom from countries that were our allies since World War II. In these and many other cases, Trump takes unilateral action, regardless of any prior agreement or agreement, whether informal or subject to national or international law.
Over the last few months, he has dropped everyone in the White House who could do that. I've tried to curb his worst impulses and make decisions solely about the seat of his pants. His authoritarian instincts are no longer limited to photo shoots. People around him who share these instincts are gaining in influence, notably Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, who formulated Trump's first ordinance banning travelers from the majority-Muslim countries. Remember what Miller told John Dickerson on "Face the Nation" in February 2017, when asked if the White House had learned anything from experience:
Well, I think it was an important reminder all Americans, that we have one justice, which has taken far too much power and in many cases has become a supreme government branch. An unelected judge in Seattle can not remake laws for the entire country. I mean, that's just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle, say that a foreigner living in Libya has an effective right to immigrate to the United States – is beyond anything, What we have ever seen before
The net result of this, however, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see if we take further action that the powers of the President to protect our country are very significant and not to be (19659004) That too was laughed at that time. He sounded like a North Korean general. No American could really take that seriously, right?
But after all the drama, all the revenue, and the storm and urge of the last year and a half, Miller is still there the president. He was obviously instrumental in shaping the "zero tolerance" border policy with everything that resulted from it, with his old boss Jeff Sessions and the White House chief of staff, John Kelly. And he's obviously whispering in Trump's ear about the president's full power.
On Sunday the President tweeted this and sent shockwaves through the media and political system:
We can not allow all these people to invade our country. If someone comes in, we have to bring them back immediately, without judges or court cases, where they came from. Our system is a mockery of a good immigration policy and law and order. Most children come without parents …
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2018
…. Our immigration policy, laughed the world over, is very unfair of all those people who have gone through the system legally and have been online for years! Immigration must be based on merit – we need people who will help make America great again!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 24, 2018
All this is more thoughtful than it seems. More than a month ago, Trump told Brian Kilmeade about "Fox & Friends" that he wanted to get rid of the borderline lawsuit:
How do you recruit thousands of people to be a judge? So it's ridiculous, we'll change the system. We have no choice for the good of our country. Other countries have so-called security guards. People standing there and saying, "You can not come in." We have thousands of judges and they need thousands of other judges. The whole system is corrupt. It is terrible. … Who has heard of a system of passing people through exams? Where do these judges come from?
Of course there is the US Constitution. And laws and international treaties and basic human decency. But Donald Trump does not respect these things. He essentially suggests that the Border Patrol and ICE may deport anyone they want, since the whole reason for a fair trial is to judge the guilt of the government. If there is no due process, there is no way to know if these "people standing there saying that you can not get in" follow the law itself. Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law scholar, told The New York Times:
Trump makes the tyrannical claim that he has the right to serve as prosecutor, judge, and juror in relation to all those entering our country , This is a stunning statement of unlimited power – power without any plausible limit.
That's Kim Jong-un. Trump wants to have that too. Stephen Miller believes that he is already doing that and that all of us will soon see that "it is not questioned". I do not think anyone should laugh anymore. They are not kidding.